by Meredith Moore
Release Date: April 5th 2016
Softcover Edition; 384 Pages
Genre: Fiction / Young Adult / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher
4 / 5 Stars
Fiona, an independent
loner with wild red hair, leaves her fractured home in Texas for a
brand-new life in the Scottish Highlands to be the au pair for Poppy
Mackenzie, the young daughter of her mother’s recently deceased
childhood friends. Fee, as she’s called, is thrilled to be free of her
less-than-ideal home life. But there’s another motive driving her
eagerness to flee to the Highlands: the desire to reconnect with her
mother, who succumbed to suicide after a long battle with schizophrenia
when Fiona was only twelve, leaving her to live with distant relatives
of her absentee father.
Fee doesn’t have much time to settle into
her new home—a castle maintained by the Mackenzie family fortune—before
a series of strange events starts to make her question her sanity. As
the attacks on her mental health become more and more intense, Fee finds
herself both the pawn and the target in a ruthless, greed-driven plot
with roots that go all the way back to her mother. Alone and friendless
in a foreign country and half-convinced she’s losing her mind—just like
her mother—Fee must rely on her wits and her street smarts to save not
only herself but also the lives of her newfound Scottish family.
Fiona, I learned afterwards, is a loosely based rendition of the classic Jane Eyre, but I didn't really see it as such, especially as Charlie, the love interest, is such a different personality than Mr. Rochester. I am always drawn to the creepy and twisted dark stuff so I enjoyed this book for its own sake.
Fiona, or Fee as she likes to be called, is an interesting character, one I liked very much. I could identify with her loneliness as she traveled to Scotland to become a nanny in an area of the country where her mother grew up. Having lived with her mother's mental illness her entire life, she was ready for a change and a new start at life; however, when she arrived at the castle, she discovered the the parents of the girl had been killed in a terrible car accident, and she was left to deal with a young traumatized girl and a family picking up the pieces of a devastating tragedy. I thought Fee handled it all with creative dignity and did the best she could in a situation into which she walked but did not fully understand.
Naturally, you can't have a retelling without using some of the elements that were present in Jane Eyre so of course there was the strange laughter at night, the voices, and the general eeriness of Charlie's home, causing Fee to think she was developing symptoms of the same mental illness of which her mother suffered. Panicked and alone, she didn't know what to do other than trust her general instincts telling her something was wrong in the house. Because of this, you know she is going to fall for Charlie, but I liked their romance, and I am glad he was much closer to her age than Mr. Rochester was to Jane. While that may have worked in the time period of Jane Eyre, I don't think it would have been as appealing here. I don't know however, what Charlie ever saw in Blair and that is something that kind of wrung a sour note in this story; the relationship between them didn't ring true, especially with Charlie's reformation from bad boy to hard-working businessman and I feel like the author was grasping for a reason as to why Blair should be around.
Fiona was a fun retelling of Jane Eyre, but I was glad I didn't know about it when I was reading the book as I think I would have spent too much time comparing the two and not enough time just enjoying the book for itself. And I do think there was enough that was different to make it its own anyways. I liked the characters, even Blair, though I felt the author was floundering a bit trying to find a good reason for her inclusion in events. Visiting for months on end may have worked in the 19th century, but it doesn't really work in the modern era as the time periods are so different. So while some things were a bit frustrating, overall I enjoyed the story, liked the creepiness and the setting, and would recommend it to anyone interested in eerie romances.