Owl Manor—The Final Stroke (Owl Manor: Book 3) by Zita Harrison

Publisher: Zealous Arts Publishing

Date of publication: August 10th, 2022

Genre: Gothic, Horror

Series: Owl Manor Trilogy

Owl Manor: The Dawning—Book 1 (review here)

Owl Manor: Abigail—Book 2 (review here)

Owl Manor: The Final Stroke—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

For a quarter of a century, the horrors at Owl Manor have been buried under dust and decay, forgotten and unheard.

Then Dolores hears the whispers.

Dolores, a young artist, feels the pain all around her. It is the subject of her paintings. Strangely, once the pain is on her canvas, it diminishes.

A fated encounter takes her and her two best friends to Owl Manor in the Rocky Mountains. Ignoring the rumors of a gruesome past and ghosts, they take up residence. What’s the worst that could happen?

But it is the past that has summoned Dolores.

The owls begin to circle the sky again. The whispers get louder, seeping into each of their souls. And Dolores, besieged by the pain of brutal murders in the manor’s history, has no choice but to paint.

For the lives of those close to her hang in the balance.

Inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven), Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), and Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House), Owl Manor – the Final Stroke is the third and final book in the Owl Manor trilogy of Gothic Suspense novels. It follows Owl Manor – the Dawning and Owl Manor – Abigail.


First Line:

My worn books squelched through mud and grit as I trudged down the main thoroughfare of a town.

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke by Zita Harrison

I cannot stress this enough (and I have mentioned it a few times in the previous two reviews for this series), I cannot read Gothic/horror without my husband being home. After finishing this book, I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing several of Dolores’s paintings, Kitty’s theater, or even Rachel’s descent into madness. I was so unnerved by this book, and that was a good thing!!!

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke is the 3rd book in the Owl Manor trilogy. While you can read this as a standalone book, I recommend reading books 1 and 2 first. That way, you can learn about the events that lead up to this book and how they influenced the events that take place in this book.

The author did write a forward to the book explaining how it was written. This book is written in language that was common for the time. She explained that the language combines British English and frontier dialect but is moving towards an informal American dialect. She cited a website (etymobline.com) that she used in her research to make sure it was as authentic as possible.

Owl Manor—The Final Stroke takes place around 30 years after the events of Abigail and around 50ish years after The Dawning. Dolores, Kitty, and Rachel are three friends looking for a place to open a combination restaurant/theater/art gallery. Dolores finds a carved owl at a local fair, and the seller, a young boy, tells her it is from a mansion in the mountains outside of Denver. After seeing the estate, they decide to buy it and renovate it back to its former glory. But, once living there, Dolores (an empath) starts painting pictures of murdered women, the victims of Rafe Bradstone. Her dreams reach a fever pitch as women are being murdered in Denver, and she is compelled to paint them. With Kitty going down a path that includes opium use and promiscuity and Rachel spiraling down into madness, Dolores needs to get to the heart of the mystery, Owl Manor. But can she do it in time to save herself and her friends? Or will they end up being more victims of Owl Manor?

I loved Dolores’s character. She was your typical turn-of-the-century artsy girl who dreamed of doing nothing but her art. She was also an empath who used her art to channel the pain of what she was feeling to canvas. So, when she started having nightmares and was compelled to paint them, it wasn’t new to her. But what was new was how graphic and terrifying the paintings were. The author could take Dolores’s initial feelings and expand on them. Dolores became alarmed at what she was doing. She did try to stop (the scene where she tried to burn the painting will be forever etched in my head) but couldn’t. I was terrified for her when she started painting murders that had just happened. I am going to stop there because of spoilers.

I liked Kitty’s character, but I was not too fond of the turn she took. She had a great vision for her theater, and I thought her first two shows were great. But then, she listened to Cecil, and everything turned. She went from this bright, vibrant girl to someone I didn’t even recognize. It saddened me and made her suspect when prostitutes were being killed in Denver.

I was not too fond of Rachel. She rubbed me the wrong way the entire book. I wasn’t surprised when she started hearing (and eventually seeing) Rafe. I wasn’t surprised by her attitude towards Kitty or how she refused to listen to Dolores. I did, however, think it was interesting that she was the one who looked up Owl Manor’s past, and she was the one who found Rafe’s letters to his father. I did feel bad for her in the end, mainly because she ended up being a pawn in something much bigger than her.

I enjoyed reading the storyline with Dolores, the girls, and their business. I was fascinated to see how it would do. Despite what was going on and how everything turned out, I was still rooting for them to succeed.

The storyline with Dolores and her paintings was frightening. I didn’t blame her for being as scared or fighting it as she was. I knew her paintings connected to Rafe, but I wasn’t sure what the connection was. I thought she might have been Abigail’s daughter, but that was dashed relatively early in the book.

Kitty’s storyline was a little frightening. It showcased how someone like Cecil could easily lead someone as naive as Kitty down the wrong path. Her 180 change of morals and attitude didn’t help with that conception either. I admit that I thought it was Kitty doing the killing until almost the end.

Rachel’s storyline was sad to read. While I didn’t like her, I did think that she had a valid point about being so angry early on in the book. But, as Rafe’s spirit drew her in, I could see her falling down that rabbit hole. I was verbally yelling “No” as she started acting more erratic.

The storyline with Rafe, Eva, and the ghosts was terrifying. I felt terrible for Rafe and the fact that, even in death, he was lost without Eva. So, having that part of the storyline wrapped up the way it did make sense. But the other part of the storyline, the one with the ghosts of the women he murdered, was chilling. I understood that they wanted their stories told, but possession was a little too far in my eyes.

The storyline with the killer was interesting. There were quite a few characters to pick from, and I felt that any of them (except Dolores) could have been the killer. Heck, I even had Gabriel on the shortlist!!

I felt that the author wrote the horror angle of Owl Manor—The Final Stroke amazingly. I was creeped out by what was happening in the manor. I was also creeped out by what was happening mentally and physically to the girls.

There was a slight romance angle to the book that I wasn’t too fond of. But, it didn’t get in the way of the main storylines, and it did add some extra depth to Dolores’s character arc.

The end of Owl Manor—The Final Stroke was interesting. I had chills reading it!! I loved how the author wrapped up the storyline of Rafe and Eva. I also liked how she wrapped up Dolores, Kitty, and Rachel’s storylines. As for the killer, I was shocked at who it ended up being. That person didn’t even make my “who is the killer” list or was even on my radar.

I would recommend Owl Manor—The Final Stroke to anyone over 21. There are sexual situations, mild language, and violence. There is also drug use (Kitty taking opiates) and forced sexual encounters (again, Kitty during the last of her theater dates).


If you enjoyed reading Owl Manor—The Final Stroke, you will enjoy these books:

WWW Wednesday: September 14th, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

  • I got my Covid booster on Saturday, and my arm hurt. I swear the Walgreens tech used an extra-long needle. But I am glad that I got it.
  • Miss R has been home sick from school since Monday. She had an anxiety attack on Monday, and I had to grab her from school. She threw up twice (once at school and once at home) on Tuesday. Per the school, she has to be 24 hours without puking, so she will return on Thursday.
  • I have watched the Queen’s funeral (and all the reports on her death) since it happened last week. Today’s procession was hard to watch. Anne’s face conveyed everything that was unsaid about her mother’s death.
  • I am updating posts, but I have gone back to the beginning. I have added a section called “If you enjoyed these books, then you will like these” and added three books to the post.
  • I am behind by a review. I planned on being ahead, but with Miss R being home, I haven’t been able to sit down and write. I am planning on doing that tomorrow.
  • On the other hand, I am ahead in reading. I am halfway through the second book of the Owl Manor Trilogy, and I love this trilogy!!!

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

A tale of unspeakable murder, a doomed alliance, and retribution from the beyond
Sometimes the tide sweeps us into a fog where dark forces are at work…suddenly good and evil become blurred. Powerless and defenseless, we swim toward it, and wonder if we’re going mad.

Eva is born in the wrong era. In 1800s America, women are required to obey their husbands without question and to submit to their presumed superiority. But Eva wants more. Willful and ambitious, she considers herself equal to men. But the times are unrelenting, and it is her curse to remain unheard.

Rafe is a misogynist. Born of a demented mother who shattered his childhood and family, he is forever tormented by a scathing mistrust of women.

The tide brings them together at Owl Manor, a place shrouded in darkness, forsaken by the sun. A place where owls breathe in the very fabric of the walls, and shadows wander the passages. Where good and evil blur.

Will Eva make the right choice?

Owl Manor – the Dawning, the first in a trilogy of Gothic suspense novels, is inspired by authors such as Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind), Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House).


What I am currently reading:

14 years ago, Owl Manor trembled with echoes of madness, mysterious deaths and marauding owls.

In 1870, Abigail fled the horror of Owl Manor with her fiancé, Peter. But she carried with her the terrible notion that she is unworthy of love, instilled by her reluctant mother. If her own mother could not love her, how would anyone else?

She trusts no one and keeps herself buried in a crypt of churning emotions, away from the world. Deep inside, her soul screams at the thought of dying alone and unloved.

Now she is back. Abandoned at the altar, and with nowhere to go, she returns to Owl Manor. Thus begin the nightmares of violent rage and destruction, ghostly images.

What really happened 14 years ago?

Enter Victor, the complete opposite of Peter, yet frighteningly familiar at times.

And the owls circle the sky once again.


What books I think I’ll read next:

For a quarter of a century, the horrors at Owl Manor have been buried under dust and decay, forgotten and unheard.

Then Dolores hears the whispers.

Dolores, a young artist, feels the pain all around her. It is the subject of her paintings. Strangely, once the pain is on her canvas, it diminishes.

A fated encounter takes her and her two best friends to Owl Manor in the Rocky Mountains. Ignoring the rumors of a gruesome past and ghosts, they take up residence. What’s the worst that could happen?

But it is the past that has summoned Dolores.

The owls begin to circle the sky again. The whispers get louder, seeping into each of their souls. And Dolores, besieged by the pain of brutal murders in the manor’s history, has no choice but to paint.

For the lives of those close to her hang in the balance.

Nightmares & Daydreams unravels the dark consequences of suppressing one’s innermost traumas and pain. Kalim, a 27 year old songwriter living with his boyfriend in Marseille, becomes tortured by nightmares, hallucinations and out of body experiences, as the trauma from his past starts to ripple from the depths of his subconscious. An entity starts to emerge through the fog of his tortured mind, haunting him within his nightmares.

After violent nights and dark days of suffering and relapsing into volatile vices, Kalim is forced to follow the ominous entity as his final hope for salvation. Dominic Anton’s third book and first paranormal fiction thriller further comprises a section of poetry expanding on the theme’s of addiction, trauma, loss of faith, and shedding the skin of the past.

She was a runaway from a cruel man who wanted to chase her and claim what he thought was his property. Who could know that finding shelter for the beautiful Daisy O’Malley in Jess Farthing’s barn would lead to love?

The man swore to keep her safe and vowed that the person who did this to her would suffer. Through many shades of danger they made a team and it turned out to be Jess who needed her help on more than one occasion.

Neither of them would admit to falling love in case the partnership came to an end. Daisy had lost her family but the friends who came to her aid formed a strong and lasting bond.The story is about friendship and a love affair that steals the reader’s heart along with a slight touch of the supernatural.

“Loving a Runaway Bride” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Ashlyn just wants to move on with her life. Run her bakery. Heal her broken heart. She’s had three years to try and forget Dante Fontaine.

To the rest of the world, Dante is Hollywood royalty, the ridiculously attractive oldest son of the notorious Fontaine family.

To Ashlyn? He’s the guy who took her virginity and made her swear off men forever.

But when an accidental–and humiliating–encounter brings him back into her life, Ashlyn realizes that no matter how hard she’s tried to forget about him, Dante definitely hasn’t forgotten about her.

…and this time, he’s not going to let her go.

WWW Wednesday: September 7th, 2022

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

  • The bus saga continues. It hasn’t shown up at all since last week. But, there is light at the end of the tunnel here. I emailed the transportation director, expressed my frustration, and asked for insight. She told me that a new driver had been hired (Yay!!) and the route will return to normal shortly.
  • We have settled into our school schedule very nicely. Miss R is a little put off because (drum roll please) she will have math and reading homework Monday-Thursday. She will also have a project a month. This month’s project is called About Me, which is pretty self-explanatory. We have already sketched out (on posterboard) what she is going to include. Tonight, we start work on it.
  • The horse show gave Miss R a huge boost in confidence, which she needed. She was trotting with one hand and doing a great job controlling her horse (who was being naughty) at her last lesson. She could almost do everything to tack and untack the horse by herself.
  • I don’t know if I mentioned it, but we had adopted (or so we thought) another kitten from the local shelter. I say we thought because I skipped his neutering appointment yesterday (we were going to go through our vet). BK was listed as the contact; they called and gave him an earful. They said we were fostering (never explained when we got him) and that we were supposed to go through their vet, not ours. They were pretty rude about it. So, I had to cancel Tony’s appointment today, and we’re taking him in next week for his neutering. Then he will be ours. I was pretty upset. They never explained that it was a foster-to-adopt situation (which we would have been fine with), sent us home with zero instructions (again, they didn’t tell us), and sent us home with a very sick kitten (he was on antibiotics for a URI for over a week).
  • I haven’t worked on updating posts since last week. I was pretty tired. I didn’t even play my Planet Zoo game and fell asleep during LivePD on Friday. That’s how tired I was. I am planning on getting to it at some point this week. I’m just not sure when.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

Paradise is no more. She’s a stranger in her new home…

… as she sails the choppy waters of teen life. Teresa longs for picture-perfect love, but in the real world you often have to say “No”, even if it breaks your heart.

From tropical Mozambique to drab, 1970s Lisbon, from the golden beaches of Durban to five-star holidays in verdant, mountainous Madeira, and even the Moroccan kasbah, follow Teresa as she stumbles and falls and picks herself up again.

Will Teresa’s grandparents let her out of their sight for a minute? Can she forge her own path in a country that struggles to emerge from fear and taboo? Will she find true love, or is she forever fated to navigate an ocean of boys who demand more than she is willing to give?


What I am currently reading:

In the aftermath of her husband’s life-altering mistake, Tiana Williams grapples with lingering resentment while working full-time and raising their toddler. But when Jay becomes a person of interest in the kidnapping of ten-year-old Zoe Miller, Tiana is torn between trusting her husband and believing the growing pile of evidence. After she gets dragged further into the mystery and discovers her connection to the missing girl, the shaky ground beneath her crumbles.

With the odds stacked against him, Jay does everything in his power to prove his innocence. Racing against the clock, he must uncover the truth about Zoe’s kidnapping before he loses everything he loves—including his freedom.

During a sweltering heat wave and a raging California wildfire, Tiana and Jay will stop at nothing to find Zoe, even if it means tearing apart their marriage and risking their own lives in the process


What books I think I’ll read next:

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.
“A captivating and poetic tale of mystery, fantasy, and reality tied together by action!” 5-stars, Lars Jackson, Amazon Customer
A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.

A tale of unspeakable murder, a doomed alliance, and retribution from the beyond
Sometimes the tide sweeps us into a fog where dark forces are at work…suddenly good and evil become blurred. Powerless and defenseless, we swim toward it, and wonder if we’re going mad.

Eva is born in the wrong era. In 1800s America, women are required to obey their husbands without question and to submit to their presumed superiority. But Eva wants more. Willful and ambitious, she considers herself equal to men. But the times are unrelenting, and it is her curse to remain unheard.

Rafe is a misogynist. Born of a demented mother who shattered his childhood and family, he is forever tormented by a scathing mistrust of women.

The tide brings them together at Owl Manor, a place shrouded in darkness, forsaken by the sun. A place where owls breathe in the very fabric of the walls, and shadows wander the passages. Where good and evil blur.

Will Eva make the right choice?

Owl Manor – the Dawning, the first in a trilogy of Gothic suspense novels, is inspired by authors such as Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind), Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House).

14 years ago, Owl Manor trembled with echoes of madness, mysterious deaths and marauding owls.

In 1870, Abigail fled the horror of Owl Manor with her fiancé, Peter. But she carried with her the terrible notion that she is unworthy of love, instilled by her reluctant mother. If her own mother could not love her, how would anyone else?

She trusts no one and keeps herself buried in a crypt of churning emotions, away from the world. Deep inside, her soul screams at the thought of dying alone and unloved.

Now she is back. Abandoned at the altar, and with nowhere to go, she returns to Owl Manor. Thus begin the nightmares of violent rage and destruction, ghostly images.

What really happened 14 years ago?

Enter Victor, the complete opposite of Peter, yet frighteningly familiar at times.

And the owls circle the sky once again.

Inspired by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven), Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Shadow of the Wind), Owl Manor – Abigail is the second in the Owl Manor trilogy of Gothic suspense novels, and follows Owl Manor – the Dawning.

For a quarter of a century, the horrors at Owl Manor have been buried under dust and decay, forgotten and unheard.

Then Dolores hears the whispers.

Dolores, a young artist, feels the pain all around her. It is the subject of her paintings. Strangely, once the pain is on her canvas, it diminishes.

A fated encounter takes her and her two best friends to Owl Manor in the Rocky Mountains. Ignoring the rumors of a gruesome past and ghosts, they take up residence. What’s the worst that could happen?

But it is the past that has summoned Dolores.

The owls begin to circle the sky again. The whispers get louder, seeping into each of their souls. And Dolores, besieged by the pain of brutal murders in the manor’s history, has no choice but to paint.

For the lives of those close to her hang in the balance.

Inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven), Daphne du Maurier (Jamaica Inn), and Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House), Owl Manor – the Final Stroke is the third and final book in the Owl Manor trilogy of Gothic Suspense novels. It follows Owl Manor – the Dawning and Owl Manor – Abigail.

September 2022 TBR

August seemed to fly by. It was busy for me, though, even if it was just getting the kids ready for back to school. We are on the 4th day, and everything seems to be going well (keeping my fingers crossed!!). I am enjoying the downtime.

So, here’s this month’s TBR list. Let me know if you have read any of them!!


I normally don’t read or review anthologies. But this is a new publisher, and I accepted the invite before reading the full blurb. I am sure that I am going to like it (romance is always a hit with me)

I have reviewed this author in the past, and I have enjoyed her books. I am looking forward to reading this book based on the synopsis (you have to go to Amazon to read it; it’s not on Goodreads).

A new to me author who was very sweet in her request email. I can’t wait to read this!!

I am curious about this book. It is different (the five senses used to save the world??).

The author emailed me, asking if I could review book 3 but added I could review the first two books too. And since I don’t like just reading one book in a series, I requested all 3. I am very interested in reading them all.