The Vanishing at Castle Moreau

I’ve always loved mysteries and anything with gothic vibes, so I was excited to read The Vanishing at Castle Moreau by Jaime Jo Wright. This novel follows a few different timelines, spanning the 1800s to present day, as two women work through a decades-old mystery surrounding a Wisconsin castle. With both suspense and romance, this is an intriguing pager-turner.

Special thanks to Austenprose PR, Bethany House Publishers, and NetGalley for the review copy of this book!


In 1870, Daisy François has escaped her abusive foster parents to work as a housemaid at the infamous Castle Moreau. Despite stories of girls going missing in or near the castle, Daisy needs to keep this job. Even so, she can’t ignore the terror she feels in the castle walls, and she’ll stop at nothing to uncover what’s really going on. What is the horror authoress, Madame Tremblay, hiding? What about her grandson and the only other employee on the premises? And is Daisy really safe in this house of horrors?

Fast forward to present day. Cleo Clemmons has spent the last two years running from a tragedy at home, and she’s determined to stay hidden. She takes an under-the-table job to help clean out an elderly hoarder’s home, not knowing that home is none other than Castle Moreau. Virgie Tremblay reluctantly allows Cleo to help, but it’s clear the old woman isn’t doing so well, even beyond the hoarding. The grandson who hired Cleo, celebrity Deaclan Tremblay, arrives to help. Soon, they all get sucked into solving the cold case of another girl who disappeared 40 years earlier, in the 1980s. Somehow, girls have continued to go missing for the past two centuries, and it’s time for the truth to finally come out.


The Vanishing at Castle Moreau is an absorbing mystery that sucked me in from the first page. It follows two main timelines: Daisy François in 1870, and Cleo Clemmons in the present day. Both women are running from a troubled past, and both find refuge in their new employment at Castle Moreau… even with the dark rumors that abound about missing girls. The third timeline, in 1801, follows “The Girl,” a six-year-old whose mother is on her deathbed. At night, the girl often sees a woman with a crooked hand that no one else sees. A ghost? A figment of a young imagination? Her chapters are brief interludes between the two main narratives, but they build up the spooky atmosphere.

Between Daisy and Cleo’s timelines, the parallels are obvious. Both are newly employed at the Castle Moreau, working for a grandmother and grandson. Both have a murky history as victims of domestic abuse, and as scary as this castle is, it may be the best place for them to rebuild their own lives. And despite the rumor surrounding the Moreau-Tremblay family, both grandsons could prove to be good matches for the leading ladies.

Jaime Jo Wright does a wonderful job of building up the gothic aura throughout the book. Like Ora Moreau in the 1800s, with her tales of gothic horror, The Vanishing at Castle Moreau is suspenseful, spooky, and full of mystery. As the two timelines progress, the questions start to pile up. What happened to Hester May in 1870? And all the girls before her who went missing? Is Elsie safe? Then there was Anne Joplin in 1981: What happened to her all those years ago? Why is Cleo getting strange messages about that decades-old cold case? What are the Moreau-Tremblays hiding? Daisy and Cleo’s stories start to weave together, but it’s hard to determine how, separated by 150 years, both women are facing such similar mysteries about the same unsettling castle.

Cleo and Daisy both come from broken families and domestic abuse, yet their characters are quite different. While Daisy is naive, helpful, and curious, Cleo is secretive, prone to running, and barely holding herself together. Cleo is also an alcoholic, which adds a new and thoughtful layer to her chapters.

A bit of romance is always a welcome addition to any mystery, and The Vanishing at Castle Moreau shows both Cleo and Daisy finding love in a hopeless place. Cleo and Deaclan’s romance is particularly satisfying, with a natural build-up in their emotional connection and commitment to each other. Daisy and Lincoln have a lot of potential, too, but could have used more development; I’d like to have seen more scenes between them to make their tentative love story more believable.

One thing that made me smile as I read this novel, and particularly in Daisy’s conversations with Lincoln, were the numerous mentions of classic authors and literary works. The Brontës, Mary Shelley, and Edgar Allan Poe all come up several times, especially Jane Eyre and Frankenstein. Daisy has good taste in literature, even if she is too afraid to read Ora Moreau’s books! Cleo’s long-haired cat Murphy is another highlight here.

Most of the main characters in The Vanishing at Castle Moreau talk openly about being Christian, believing in God, and the significance of Bible verses and Scripture. As an atheist, I didn’t relate to these parts, but they also didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. In my interpretation, faith isn’t central to the main plots, even if it is important to the characters.

The Vanishing at Castle Moreau has one subtle yet notable issue, which may have already been revised for the final version. In my advanced readers copy, I noticed that the math doesn’t add up in the family tree timeline. There is no way Virgie (probably born around 1940 or so) is the granddaughter of Ora (born in the 1790s). This would make her around the same age as Lincoln in 1870. At least two generations are missing in there! That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing a family tree for the Moreau-Tremblays.

Final Thoughts

The Vanishing at Castle Moreau is an atmospheric and unsettling novel, and the mystery and frequent cliffhangers make it a true page-turner. It brings up difficult themes—including domestic abuse, alcoholism, and generational trauma—but they’re dealt with delicately and, ultimately, from a place of strength. This powerful novel, of how stories can cloud the truth or be a salvation during difficult times, is a historical mystery worth reading this spring.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy The Vanishing at Castle Moreau here – it’s available as a hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook.


The Vanishing at Castle Moreau by Jaime Jo Wright
GenreHistorical Suspense; Historical Mystery
Number of Pages384
Format I Readebook (NetGalley)
Original Publication DateApril 4, 2023

Official Summary

A haunting legend. An ominous curse. A search for a secret buried deep within the castle walls.

In 1870, orphaned Daisy François takes a position as housemaid at a Wisconsin castle to escape the horrors of her past life. There she finds a reclusive and eccentric Gothic authoress who hides tales more harrowing than the ones in her novels. As women disappear from the area and the eerie circumstances seem to parallel a local legend, Daisy is thrust into a web that could ultimately steal her sanity, if not her life.

In the present day, Cleo Clemmons is hired by the grandson of an American aristocratic family to help his grandmother face her hoarding in the dilapidated Castle Moreau. But when Cleo uncovers more than just the woman’s stash of collectibles, a century-old mystery and the dust of the old castle’s curse threaten to rise again . . . this time to leave no one alive to tell the sordid tale.

Award-winning author Jaime Jo Wright seamlessly weaves a dual-time tale of two women who must do all they can to seek the light amid the darkness shrouding Castle Moreau.

About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright author headshot

Jaime Jo Wright is the author of eight novels, including Christy Award and Daphne du Maurier Award-winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their two mini-adults, Peter Pan and CoCo.


More Books by Jaime Jo Wright

Jaime Jo Wright - The House on Foster Hill
Jaime Jo Wright - Echoes Among the Stones
Jaime Jo Wright - The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater

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