A shamed influencer and a manor of secrets: The House of Brides will have you hooked from page one.

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Last weekend I found myself in the middle of an idyllic weekend beach getaway, and yet, my mind was occupied by the eerie history of a once-stately English manor, and the enigmatic characters who now inhabit it.

Let me explain.

Instead of enjoying the sunshine, I tucked myself underneath the shade of a beach umbrella (sun protection), and had my nose deep into The House of Brides – the debut novel from Melbourne-based author Jane Cockram.

The Gothic-style thriller follows Miranda – a former wellness influencer who is suffering the fallout from a failed and dubious health app.

Broke, humiliated and alienated from her former friends, Miranda moves back in with her father and stepmother.


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Then one day, she receives a letter from her mother’s estranged side of the family, who she has no connection with. The return address is from the infamous Barnsley House, the UK childhood home of her mum, Tessa Summers, and inside is a cry for help from Miranda’s teenage niece, Sophia, begging her aunt to return.

The only thing is that Tessa has been dead for more than a decade.

Hungry for an escape, Miranda books a one-way flight from Sydney to Barnsley House and enters as the family’s nanny. Upon arrival, she realises the once-thriving boutique hotel is not what it used to be. It’s now occupied by her uncle Max Summers, his wife Daphne, their three children – Sophia, Robbie, and Agatha – and their caretaker, Mrs Mins. But something is ‘off’.

Miranda soon learns an accident has left one child in a wheelchair, and Daphne is no longer the vibrant Michelin Star chef she used to be.

Intrigued yet? There’s also a fascinating book-within-a-book element – Miranda’s mother wrote about Barnsley House in a bestselling novel called, you guessed it, The House of Brides. In the book, she documents the illustrious women who married into the Summers family – but there’s a lot more to her mum’s story than what she presents. A lot more.


Now, I won’t give away any more of the plot – all I can say is that for every answer Miranda uncovers, multiple other questions arise.


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The House of Brides is equal parts gripping and evocative. The mysterious plot immediately hooks you in, and the characters, with their intriguing histories and buried secrets, will stay with you long after the final full stop.

While the book itself is 360-plus pages, don’t be fooled, you won’t be able to, or want to, put it down.

I know I couldn’t, and instead devoured Cockram’s intricately crafted narrative a hundred pages at a time.

Fellow Aussie author, Sally Hepworth (The Things We Keep, The Mother’s Promise, and The Mother-in-Law) is also a fan.

“Jane Cockram captivates with her haunting debut novel, The House of Brides,” she writes on the book’s cover sleeve.

“With echoes of Daphne de Maurier [Rebecca], it examines the inescapable ties of family and what happens when a complex tangle of secrets starts to unravel.

“Gripping, atmospheric and with an ending you won’t see coming, this book held me in its spell long after the final page. A sure-fire bestseller!”

But if you won’t take it from Sally, take it from me, and my non-existent, post-beach weekend tan. I simply had more pressing matters to attend to.

The House of Brides is available to buy now at all good bookstores, as well as instore and online at BIG WApple Books and in audiobook on Audible.

Have you read The House of Brides? What did you think? Tell us in a comment below.

HQ Fiction

HQ Fiction, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, are giving you a chance to WIN 1 OF 5 COPIES OF THE HOUSE OF BRIDES for you and your book club for summer. Click here to enter now!

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