Feature image credit: @cindysalwaysreading

Emma Rous is the bestselling author of the scandalous and delightfully twisted novel The Au Pair. She’s back with her newest suspenseful story, The Perfect Guests.

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

1988. Beth Soames is fourteen years old when her aunt takes her to stay at Raven Hall, a rambling manor in the isolated East Anglian fens. The Averells, the family who lives there, are warm and welcoming, and Beth becomes fast friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even feels like she’s truly part of the family…until they ask her to help them with a harmless game—and nothing is ever the same.

2019. Sadie Langton is an actress struggling to make ends meet when she lands a well-paying gig to pretend to be a guest at a weekend party. She is sent a suitcase of clothing, a dossier outlining the role she is to play, and instructions. It’s strange, but she needs the money, and when she sees the stunning manor she’ll be staying at, she figures she’s got nothing to lose. 

In person, Raven Hall is even grander than she’d imagined—even with damage from a fire decades before—but the walls seem to have eyes. As day turns to night, Sadie starts to feel that there’s something off about the glamorous guests who arrive, and as the party begins, it becomes chillingly apparent their unseen host is playing games with everyone…including her.

More books with gothic settings

Gothic stories are most definitely having a moment and the newest book from Emma definitely delivers. The grandiose gothic estate setting made us ask, what inspired the setting for the story?

So we reached out to Emma and asked! Here are the books that inspired Raven Hall in The Perfect Guests, a rambling manor off the coast of England that threatens to trap two girls in its deadly web of secrets.

If you’re a fan of mystical gothic manors that become characters themselves in the stories they surround, these are the books for you!

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

This was the book that sparked my early fascination with mysterious, isolated houses. When Jane takes a governess position at Thornfield Hall, she witnesses ominous events — an unexplained fire, an eerie laugh, an attack on a guest — that ultimately lead to heartbreak and devastation.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Another classic novel that fuelled my love of mansions harbouring dark secrets. A young bride arrives at the grand coastal estate of Manderley to be met by a sinister housekeeper, disturbingly preserved rooms, and relentless whispers about the fate of her predecessor.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

In this deliciously gothic tale, the decaying country estate is Angelfield, home to feral twins, their governess, and a family with a violent and disturbing past.

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

This chilling novel is set at Lyntons, a neglected country house, which provides a wonderfully creepy backdrop for the three temporary residents, one of whom spies on the other two through a peephole in her attic bathroom.

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donohue

A remote Catholic boarding school on the coast provides the perfect setting for this tale of obsession and jealousy, culminating in the disappearance of a sixteen-year-old girl and her charismatic teacher.

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