Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Best Books Set In Mansions

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Have you ever thought about how many books are set in giant houses? There are a lot. The first time I wrote this list, all 10 books on it were classics. I swapped out most of the older books for newer ones because there are so many to choose from!

Also, I realize there are differences between mansions, McMansions, manors, estates, castles, and large houses. I'm calling the list "Best Books Set In Mansions" because I like how it sounds. Some of these houses might not be mansions. I don't care. They're close enough.

🏰  Best Books Set In Mansions  🏡

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Adult Historical Fiction

Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once the imposing home of the March family—fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House conceals a chilling secret whose impact still resonates.

Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield's past—and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic author Vida Winter? And what is it in Margaret's own troubled past that causes her to fall so powerfully under Angelfild’s spell?

Why I recommend it: Atmospheric writing, ghost children, and a biographer who is trying to uncover the secret past of a famous author. It has all the scandalous twists of a great gothic novel. The end surprised me. This is a hard book to discuss without spoiling the twists, but if you’re a fan of Jane Eyre, or Rebecca, or The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo, you need to read it.


Buy it on Amazon

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Adult Mystery

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive, past the beeches, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten, her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant—the sinister Mrs. Danvers—still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca.

Why I recommend it: The mystery. What happened to Rebecca? Why is Mrs. Danvers so creepily loyal to her dead mistress? Is the narrator’s new husband a murderer? My feelings about the characters were constantly shifting. I never knew what to believe or who to trust.

We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson

Adult Horror

Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

Why I recommend it: Because of the main character. She's a very creative (and very mentally ill) young woman who can't tell the difference between imagination and reality. You'll never forget this homicidal family.

Buy it on Amazon

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Adult Historical Horror

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find—her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemí’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

Why I recommend it: A woman heads out to the wilderness and discovers that her cousin is trapped in a haunted house with a creepy family who is using her for nefarious purposes. How can you resist that plot? I read the majority of the novel in one night because I love the creepy imagery and the quick way the family secrets unravel. I have a feeling this book will become a classic that's forced upon college students 50 years from now.

Buy it on Amazon

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Middle Grade Historical Fantasy

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander, age ten or thereabouts, keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia, perhaps four or five, has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf, age somewhere-in-the-middle, is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must help them overcome their canine tendencies.

But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische?

Why I recommend it: It brought me immense amounts of joy during stressful times. Even though I'm a very serious grownup, I loved reading about the "wolf children" and their quirky young governess. It's packed with hilarious writing and mysteries to solve. Were these orphans really raised by wolves? And why did grumpy Lord Ashton agree to take them into his fancy home? And what are the rumors about a curse? This series will make you smile and keep you turning pages.

Buy it on Amazon

The Animals At Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Adult Historical Fiction

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone—or something—is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumors of ghosts and curses?

Why I recommend it: If you love gothic books or Victorian sensation novels, then you need to read this one! It's got the vibes of a classic, but it's written in modern times and set during WWII. It has everything you'd expect from a Victorian sensation classic: unexpected deaths, madness, forbidden romance, plot twists, untrustworthy servants, arrogant men, potential ghosts, bad weather, a creepy atmosphere. It's a mash-up of all the greatest hits. Actually, this book is like a museum for other books. As you wander through it, you see bits of Jane Eyre, Rebecca, The Woman In White, etc.

Buy it on Amazon

Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews

Adult Horror

They were a perfect and beautiful family—until a heartbreaking tragedy shattered their happiness. Now, for the sake of an inheritance that will ensure their future, the children must be hidden away out of sight, as if they never existed. They are kept in the attic of their grandmother’s labyrinthine mansion, isolated and alone. As the visits from their seemingly unconcerned mother slowly dwindle, the four children grow ever closer and depend upon one another to survive both this cramped world and their cruel grandmother.

Why I recommend it: I now understand why so many people were traumatized by this book when they were children. This novel is nasty! Young people need to stay away from their parents' bookshelves. I'm not even sure how to talk about the plot because everything is a spoiler! Before I started reading, I knew this book was a modern classic and very scandalous. I'm glad I didn't know more. I got to be shocked by each disturbing development. (And there are a lot of disturbing developments.) The book is weirdly addictive. I even downloaded the audiobook so I could listen at work. I was desperate to find out how the children would escape from the attic. It's a tense, high-stakes story for sure.

Buy it on Amazon

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Middle Grade Fantasy

Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

Why I recommend it: The magic! You will fall in love with these quirky characters. I literally laughed out loud at some of the ridiculous problems they cause. This book is a classic for a reason. I wish I'd read it as a kid. I would have adored it.

Buy it on Amazon

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Young Adult Horror Graphic Novel

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she is left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Why I recommend it: Beautiful haunted house artwork. I love this book because it perfectly captures an insidious style of bullying that I experienced as a kid. The bullies do small things that disrupt your life and get on your nerves, but they're so small that complaining about them seems petty and pointless. The small things add up until you feel like you're going insane. That's what happens in this novel. It's a weirdly relatable horror story.

Buy it on Amazon

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Young Adult Fantasy

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

Why I recommend it: The illustrations are beautiful, and I can't resist a portal fantasyThe plot is pretty simple: a kid explores her new home. It reminds me of a young adult version of Coraline. The plot isn't what you remember. The creepy imagery will stick with you for a long time. Also, that ending? I think it took a lot of courage to end the book that way. It's dark!

Buy it on Amazon

What's your favorite book set in a mansion?


  1. Gallant looks interesting.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday.


  2. I love books set in mansions. It’s such a versatile setting.

    Thanks for stopping by earlier.


  3. Fabulous idea! Every book my mom read was set in a mansion, I think. She loved her Gothic novels.

  4. So many great choices! I love a big sprawling house as a setting - it so often becomes a character in itself!

  5. I love stories set in mansions, I have a lot of favorites here. I love that they are mysterious and with secret rooms

  6. A great topic for today!! https://cindysbookcorner.blogspot.com/

  7. I loved the first two on your list and haven't read the others. Must rectify that! Thanks for the recommendations.

  8. I loved The Thirteenth Tale when I first read but must admin I do not remember much about it at the moment. Happy reading. My TTT https://readwithstefani.com/top-10-books-set-in-spain-on-my-tbr/

  9. I love books set in big, old creepy edifices—mansions, castles, manors, hospitals, hotels, you name it! I actually just listened to a non-fiction book called EMPTY MANSIONS that was totally fascinating.

    Happy TTT!

  10. A fantastic take on this week's topic!
    Pam @ Read! Bake! Create!

  11. Nice topic. Now you have me wondering. I did read the Andrews book (back when it was inappropriate for me). Jennifer Lynn Barnes' The Inheritance Games features a really cool mansion.

  12. I love books set in big old mansions, especially if the main character just inherited it, or if it's haunted. :D

  13. My favorite Mansion story? We Have Always Lived In The Castle.

  14. I love books set in big spooky houses. Mexican Gothic is one I've been thinking of reading for a while. :)

    Thornhill... amazing cover.

  15. I've not read any of these. I always assumed the setting of mansions came from our British past, but I see there are some set in other cultures such as Mexico. Since place has "character" it goes without saying that houses makes a great setting for books.

  16. I do love books set in mansions, the atmosphere in those books is always so perfect :) Gallant is on my TBR, I'm definitely intrigued.

  17. Love your setting!! And I have read only Rebecca on your list.. I recall adding the Ashton Place book(s) to my TBR after seeing it here earlier.. still to read it though :)
    My post is here