Love never dies, and revenge never sleeps in Morgan Hall…
Morgan Hall, a desolate country estate, has been in Lady Christie Morgan’s family for almost 400 years. A family cursed by eternal tragedy, and now Christie is the last Morgan.
Apparitions appear, sparking a chain of horrifying occurrences involving Christie and the two men who love her: Anthony Longfield-Lothian and Tristan Ely.
A saga of mystery and sordid family history weaves intrigue for the passionate love triangle. Past and present war as the secrets of three aristocratic families unfold - resurfacing in a spine-chilling mystery of passion and lust, ghostly happenings, and blood-curdling murders.
Emotions run high as their world spins wildly out of control. Are they all cursed to repeat the grizzly past? Does sweet revenge claim its prize?
Bo Briar nursed a love of art, music and architecture from childhood as well as all things ghostly. Her years at a British boarding school secluded in an ancient English county of majestic stately homes, historical towns and quaint medieval villages, nestled among mysterious forests and chocolate-box landscapes formed many of her lifelong impressions, beliefs and ideas.
Although having an affinity for the countryside Bo lived most of her life between the big cities of London and Hong Kong. Though widely travelled, she will always return to the two cities she calls home.
Her love for writing began at university where she would often diverge from composing dissertations to creating spooky stories. After taking a sabbatical from work in the hope of quality time with her two young children, she has also managed to complete and publish her first novel Morgan Hall. She is currently writing the sequel.
Melissa A. Bartell
Owner of the Bibliotica Book Club
“There are times when a gothic thriller is the perfect thing to read, and I was lucky enough to read the bulk of Bo Briar's modern gothic Morgan Hall on a murky, moody, rainy August morning that perfectly complimented the book.
Why do I call it a "modern" gothic? Because while Morgan Hall has all the requisite elements of a classic gothic - huge old manor houses with disturbing histories and some disrepair, orphan heiresses with tragic pasts, unrequited love, stormy weather, ghostly apparitions, and creepy housekeepers, it's actually set in a time not too far removed from today, and the characters all have cars, computers, and cell phones (not that the latter ever work reliably). In fact, about the only thing missing is someone hiding behind a billowing curtain.
But don't assume that I mention this because I didn't like the book. In fact, I enjoyed it immensely. Sure, Christie Morgan's behavior was often frustrating to my feminist sensibilities, and true, I didn't quite buy the instant-love between Christie and Tristan (the best friend of Christie's lifelong friend and `kissing' cousin Anthony), but when an author is spinning a good story, the willing reader overlooks minor things like that, just as the good audience member engages in willful suspension of disbelief when watching Harry Potter and friends soar around on broomsticks to play Quidditch.
And make no mistake, Bo Briar spins a good story. Her descriptions of place, whether she's talking about the afore-mentioned manor houses (one of which was a castle) or just describing modern London or a pub in York, are so vivid that when she wrote about gusts of wind or rainwater puddling in the street, I found myself looking outside to see if my weather was the same. I felt like I was walking through the corridors of the titular Morgan Hall with Christie Morgan.
As well, Briar knows how to set a tone. In my "I finished this book" tweet, I mentioned that Morgan Hall is wonderfully moody, but what I didn't say was that, while reading the first part of the novel late at night, I had to insist that my husband come to bed RIGHT NOW because her writing worked with my over-active imagination to give me goosebumps.
I read across many genres. I love science fiction and contemporary literature, but I also love good mysteries. While I don't read a lot of gothic fiction, when I do, I always enjoy the pleasantly shivery feeling of being just a little bit scared. Briar's book gave me that feeling - I put aside my disbelief in some of the plot elements (like Christie, Andrew and Tristan all having inherited big old houses, or the three of them platonically sharing a bed) but was involved enough in the story to worry when Tristan turned out to be less - and more - than he seemed, and to worry for Christie when we learned what jeopardy she was in.
There are perfect times and places for gothic fiction. I was lucky enough to read Morgan Hall over a late August night and a rainy August morning, but even if you read this in the bright sunshine of a happy summer day, I think you'll find this tale both compelling and just scary enough to make the hair rise on your arms.
Goes well with shepherd's pie and a tall glass of hard cider."
Review at Goodreads.com
"I'm going to start by telling you things I didn't like about this book. First off the way the text reads is very odd- I really had a hard time remembering that the book is meant to take place in current day. Some of the language used is so old fashioned that you'd expect this to have been taking place in the 1800's but then all of a sudden a modern day reference would pop up and it would just be really weird.
What's also weird is Christie. I kind of don't like her and it's mostly because she's the stereotypical damsel in distress and I feel like if she were a friend of mine I would slap her silly a lot. She gets on your nerves. And the final weirdo thing for me was how the Christie-Anthony-Tristan relationship seriously felt like a threesome for the entire book. First off, why she picks who she does in the first place is the most ridiculous thing I've ever read and I almost stopped reading right then and there. And honestly, what guy do YOU know would be comfortable with their girlfriend being in the same bed as his friend and it'd be cool? NONE, that's who.
You should read this book. Why? Because once you find out what the hell is REALLY going on, the entire second half of the book flies because you have to find out how this ends. I so badly want to tell you what I think about her first husband and her choices but I can't because that will completely ruin it for you. And the end? Oh my word. Seriously. First up, I was super sad about husband #2's death. Seriously. I was so sad and I genuinely felt heartbroken for her because he truly was an eternal soul mate and he's just gone. But THEN when I read the ending? The last chapter? Holy bejeesus it was creepy as hell, a terrible injustice, but absolutely perfect.
I think I can say that it was the worst possible ending but the only logical one. It was the best ending for this book and it was amazing. Sure, I was all, "What the hell, Bo?!" when I read it, but then after thinking about it for a bit- it made absolute sense. It was tragic and perfect and everything you want in a good book.
I know Bo is working on a sequel but honestly, it would be great without a sequel, but it makes me even more excited to see what happens to helpless Christie. So I am telling you- get this book, read it, and then come back here and tell me what you thought. Seriously. Tell me if you spit out your beverage like I did at the ending."
Customer Review @ Amazon
“I believe Bo Briar is a new author and that Morgan Hall is her first novel. Me and my friend both love exciting and spooky stories and Morgan Hall ticks all the boxes. We've both read it. It's atmospheric, exciting, scary, passionate and full of twists and turns - and you will never guess the ending. What a surprise!
The story is set in England, in grand old scary mansions and ancient towns and villages. It's a story that links 3 very ancient families and there's plenty of love, hate, lust and intrigue. Lots of plotting and even murders. The characters are passionate and fascinating - good and evil. They're also very believable. As the book is set in the modern day and contemporary, you can relate to the characters and their feelings and picture the places - part of the book is also based in modern day London. The heroine Christie Morgan is beautiful yet feisty and both the hero and the bad guy are very charismatic characters.
I won't give the story away as you'll have to read that yourself, but we thoroughly enjoyed the book. It's a well-written, modern day twist on traditional gothic. There aren't many of this type of book around for spooky story fans like us. Morgan Hall comes Highly Recommended and we will be looking out for anything else that Bo Briar releases."
Owner of Psychotic State Book Reviews
"Since first reading Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier many years ago, I have a fondness for all things gothic. I was particularly gratified to have the opportunity to read Morgan Hall, a modern day gothic tale. It delivers.
Gothic books can be a tricky business, at least in my opinion. You need a slow, measured build up, keeping your audience intent and interested, and desperate for the payoff at the end. Where it gets tricky is not moving too quickly and not moving at a lethargic pace. It needs to be a literary perfect storm, if you will. Not every book gets this. Morgan Hall does. The writing is plotted to perfection, with wonderfully moody descriptions of the estates, - - which are characters in their own rights - - the English countryside, quaint villages, the main heroine and heroes and the supporting characters that the reader will find himself or herself giving the side eye to, particularly those that bring to mind Mrs. Danvers from DuMaurier's penultimate work.
I loved Morgan Hall, the place. Are ghosts hiding around every corner? Does this ancient estate have its own stories to tell? I desperately wanted to know. Truth be told, I felt a stronger bond to the estates than I did to the three principles of the story, Christie, Anthony and Tristan. I felt that author Bo Briar sketched out the estate so well, so clearly that it's a greater presence than Christie, Anthony and Tristan.
Morgan Hall is meant to be savored and enjoyed, leisurely, and preferably with a raging storm outside and wrapped in a warm blanket with a mug of your favorite hot beverage beside you. You can read this book in the dog days of summer, as I did, but the general unease and impending sense of doom will make you shiver. This isn't a cozy mystery and there is a healthy dose of the paranormal and ghosts but you won't find graphic, titillating violence here and the sexual situations are relatively PG-13. Your imagination will be sent into overdrive with author Bo Briar's slow buildup and the incredible tension. This is what a well written and well paced gothic novel aspires to be and should be.
Was there anything I didn't care for with Morgan Hall? It did start a bit slow (again, a slow boil) and it did have a part or two that I felt dragged a bit, but it's worth overcoming these small bumps in the road in order to arrive at your rewarding destination.
If you prefer your books with substance and aren't looking for an extremely faced paced read, Morgan Hall is a perfect choice. The book itself isn't long (clocking in at less than 300 pages) but it's such an intensive and thought provoking work that it packs quite the punch. Pick up Morgan Hall and get your spooky on."
© Psychotic State Book Reviews, 2012
Interview with The Examiner
Thank you for this interview, Bo. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I was born in Hong Kong. My Dad was an architect and my Mum was an avid horse rider. I also have one brother. After being sent to school in the UK, I lived there for over 20 years – worked, married and had children. I’m a single parent of two lovely children, a boy and a girl ages 9 and 10 respectively. I’m a professional writer and editor and have been writing for 13 years.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Well, love never dies, and revenge never sleeps in Morgan Hall. Morgan Hall is a desolate country estate that has been in Lady Christie Morgan’s family for almost 400 years. A family cursed by eternal tragedy, and now Christie is the last Morgan. Apparitions appear, sparking a chain of horrifying occurrences involving Christie and the two men who love her: Anthony Longfield-Lothian and Tristan Ely.
This is a saga of mystery and sordid family history weaving intrigue for the passionate love triangle. Past and present war as the secrets of three aristocratic families unfold - resurfacing in a spine-chilling mystery of passion and lust, ghostly happenings, and blood-curdling murders.
Emotions run high as their world spins wildly out of control. Are they all cursed to repeat the grizzly past? Does sweet revenge claim its prize? That’s up to you the reader to find out…
Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?
This book is suitable for anyone who loves an exciting story. As for genre and target audience, Morgan Hall is a contemporary Gothic novel, so it is most suitable for those who like reading Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal and Paranormal Romance.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I’ve always been fascinated by the paranormal, a gothic atmosphere and all things ghostly. If you look through my books you’ll see shelves dedicated to books about hauntings, ghosts and spirits. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. As a very young child I’ve often experienced paranormal/ghostly activity around me. Then intermittently throughout my life this has always been the case. It freaks me out but leaves me intrigued.
Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?
No. I’ve always believed in my work and I feel it is important to truly believe in what you are doing.
Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?
I write from my office area at home. It’s very quiet and my desk is right in front of a window where I look out from – so it’s very relaxing.
What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?
I already know quite a lot about British history and architecture but I still had to look everything up to make sure the facts are absolutely correct. I also write a lot from personal experience.
Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?
I am contracted to World Castle Publishing – an American small press. They’re great. I approached them myself.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I hired a book publicist and I also network through friends and connections.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Since the internet flourished and social networking sites gained mass popularity, a lot of book promotion can also be done online over the internet.
What’s next for you?
I am working on the sequel to Morgan Hall and plan on creating a series. Like with Morgan Hall, the characters are passionate, dark, romantic, deep and intriguing. This time the story is very contemporary and takes the characters (new and old) from the UK up to the icy mountains of Switzerland and half way around the world to Hong Kong in the mystical East. The villain is even worse than the last! The sequel is much scarier. I get chills writing it.
Thank you for this interview. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Interview with *blogcritics.org
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Re-reading, checking, re-writing, then re-reading and checking and re-writing all over again… and again… and again…
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I wrote the first draft of Morgan Hall after having my first child. When she was a baby I was always alone at home with her for most of the day so did much writing, and somehow I was really inspired to at the time so it didn’t take long. I finished the polished version when I took a sabbatical from work later on though so it was an on-off thing. Left for a few years before proper completion. However, I was inspired to write long ago when I was at school. School was set in an early 18th century ex-stately home with 300 acres of landscaped gardens and a glorious lake. The estate had been inhabited and owned by aristocratic families since the 12th century and the ruins of the old manor were both beside and at the bottom of the lake. It was both beautiful and spooky, and I had quite a few eerie experiences there of a ghostly nature. I did think to myself I must write a spooky novel one day in a similar setting but wasn’t actually able to sit down and do it until I was much older.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (if any)?
Finding the right publisher was the biggest challenge.
Have you written a book that you have not been able to get published? If so, can you share a little about it with us?
No, Morgan Hall is my first book.
How did you come up with the title?
Morgan Hall is the name of the heroine, Christie Morgan’s ancestral home and is where the whole story began and ends. So it seemed fitting to name the book after it. I also really like the name.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Yes, I am working on the sequel to Morgan Hall and plan on creating a series. Like with Morgan Hall, the characters are passionate, dark, romantic, deep and intriguing. This time the story is very contemporary and takes the characters (new and old) from the UK up to the icy mountains of Switzerland and half way around the world to Hong Kong in the mystical East. The villain is even worse than the last! The sequel is much scarier. I get chills writing it.
to entertain you...
...IF YOU CONSIDER BEING KEPT ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT ENTERTAINING
What is it and how did it come about?
And why it is a must-read genre…
Gothic fiction, also known as Gothic horror combines elements of both horror and romance. The first ever gothic novel is regarded to be The Castle of Otranto by the English author Horace Walpole back in 1764 – so he would have effectively pioneered the genre.
Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror mixed with elements of romance. It is dark, exciting, mysterious, melodramatic, full of deep and passionate feelings and oodles of atmosphere. It is intimately associated with the Gothic Revival architecture of that era and in the same way rejects clarity and rationalism preferring the joys of extreme emotion, the thrills of fearfulness and awe inherent in the sublime, as well as a quest for atmosphere.
It is important to understand that the ruins of gothic buildings were very much linked to strong emotions as they represented the inevitable decay and collapse of human creations. English landscape parks of the time would even add fake ruins for this kind of effect and feeling. Medieval buildings were seen by English Gothic writers as representing a dark and terrifying period, of harsh laws enforced by heavy punishments including torture – an era steeped in mystery, fanaticism for example anti-Catholicism and the Inquisition, and superstitious rituals.
There are a number of prominent features of Gothic fiction. These include both psychological and physical terror, mystery, secrets, darkness, decay, death, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses, elaborate but crumbling castles and Gothic architecture, hereditary curses and madness.
Gothic fiction characters often include Byronic heroes, tyrants, evil villains, maniacs and madmen, femmes fatales, persecuted maidens, insane women, magicians, paranormal characters for example vampires, werewolves and monsters, ghosts, the Devil and so forth.
All of this put together with clever twists in the storyline makes Gothic Fiction a fascinating read. Taking the reader out of reality and pushing them out of their comfort zone – into a world of decaying beauty, deep passions and dark secrets. Where love can be eternal and anything and everything can happen in the stormiest yet most breath-taking ways. It is a genre that guarantees that while reading, you will leave this everyday world behind and step into a whole new other – leagues away from everything you’d come to know.
My novel Morgan Hall is everything a Gothic novel should be – almost all of the above. In addition to this, I have also moved all of that as it is, literally, into our modern world, and you will be able to relate to the characters and what they are feeling but still be left with that very overwhelming Gothic rush and that sense of “wow”!
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