It’s my stop with MTMC Tours to talk about The Secret of Dartwood Manor by N.A. Triptow!
All you need to do is think: Jane Austen but with MAGIC and MURDER MYSTERY. And then you know why you need to pick up this book! This was such a fun and clever read, and it balanced an intriguing plot (with lots of mysteries to unravel) along with complex characters. You can’t help but be invested in the Dartwood sisters’ lives.
When the Dartwood sisters receive the shocking news that their parents have been murdered, they quickly realise someone’s covering up the truth about the murders. And there might be magic involved. It’s a contemporary fantasy, so I really loved the mix of them watching Netflix combined with manors and nods to Jane Austen and historical references. There’s plenty of delving into library books to look for clues and investigations and secret doors and missing memories and family secrets unravelled. I also liked how it fit in a bit of humour amongst the stress and grief the sisters were going through. It was really well balanced.
“Are you telling me that all this time I’ve been spending binging Netflix, doing homework, and keeping the lights on in this place, you’ve all been busy seeing ghosts and avoiding near-death experiences?”
The Dartwood sisters were all my favourites! We have Eden, Mariah, and Melissa (the two oldest are in their 20s and Melissa is 18) and they all have epic personalities and dynamics. Also super relatable sisterly-bonds; the deep love and bickering were perfect. I loved how they wanted to protect each other 🥺 There’s also romance, with Eden trying to avoid her childhood sweetheart, Evan, who broke her heart….but ends up being her lawyer. And Mariah who is ignoring her feelings for Baden, the museum curator. Baden was actually one of my favourite narrators too! He’s so down-to-earth and solid, but also connected to the supernatural and super loyal to the Dartwood family. I found the romance really natural and perfectly woven into the story since the girls are reigniting old flames.
There’s a lot going on with the plot too, so no dull moments! Plenty of mystery solving, as they realise magic exists and ghosts are haunting them, and evil is coming 😪🙌🏻 There are plenty of side characters too and subplots to keep you intrigued.
Overall this is a compelling retelling that felt fresh and innovative, with characters to love and a murderous mystery to solve. It’s full of love and determination and magic. And the ending will leave you aching for more!
“You left them a note?” Mariah snapped. “oh yeah, because the first thing you’d think of while running for your life from ghosts is propriety!”
Thanks to MTMC Tours for having me on the tour! Read on for my Q&A with the author, plus an epic giveaway!
Witches. Ghosts. An ancient secret. Enter a world of myth and magic through this contemporary fantasy reimagining of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Sense and Sensibility.
The small New England town of Tarryville, Maine is steeped in history, having been settled by the Dartwood and Farris families who fled Salem during the witch trials. The Dartwood sisters, Eden, Mariah, and Melissa, unexpectedly return home after their parents are found murdered. Upon their arrival, the girls are plagued by dreams in which dark spectral beings haunt them. When the hellish creatures seem to be more than just nightmares, another mystery begins to unravel as they discover that the circumstances around the murder of their parents may be far more menacing than they appear. Frantic for answers, they must untangle the mystery of their parents’ murders and reconstruct the pieces of an ancient secret. With the help of the young assistant curator of their family museum, Baden Correia, and an estranged friend from their past, Evan Farris, the orphaned Dartwood sisters must uncover the truth before the darkness haunting their family descends upon them as well.
Author of young adult contemporary fantasy and retellings, from fairy tales to classics, N. A. Triptow graduated from The University of Utah with a Bachelor of Arts in English Teaching with minors in History Teaching, Theatre, and British Studies. She teaches high school English and Film Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Strategic Communication and Advertising from Purdue University. In her free time, you can find her reading, watching and analyzing movies and television shows, attending the theatre, going on walks or hikes, and playing board or video games with family and friends. She lives in Utah. Find her at Website | Instagram | Goodreads | Twitter
Hi N.A., thanks so much for chatting with me today! Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey and how long it took The Secret of Dartwood Manor to go from idea to published novel?
The Secret of Dartwood Manor took about a year from conception of the idea to when I finished writing it. Then the publication process took just over another year to go from pitching, to editing, and all the little publication details in between that finally led to its release in January of 2021.
Eden Dartwood is loosely based on Elinor Dashwood from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. As such, she’s the oldest sister and is very logical. She overthinks every decision that she makes before she acts.
Mariah Dartwood is loosely based on Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility so she’s all about emotion. She’s very impulsive and makes decisions in the heat of the moment. She’s also the middle child.
Melissa Dartwood is very loosely based on Margaret Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility so she’s the youngest sister. This character in Austen’s original text is less relevant to the story because she’s only 13 years old, so it was important to me to make her very much her own person in my story. I also made her older. She’s 18 and a senior in high school. She’s very sassy and witty.
This is a really hard question for me to answer. I sort of like all of them. I just really enjoy the process of writing. I like the beginning because it’s fun to come up with the concept of the story, who the characters are, where they live, and what problems they are going to be facing in the story. I also love writing the ending because the tension comes to a head and things get crazy. I tend to write the climax scenes for the end of the book soon after writing the beginning. The middle is fun too, though, because it’s like a puzzle you get to solve. You have to connect all the pieces together to figure out how the story develops from the beginning to where you, as the author, want it to end.
Whenever I think of writing advice, the first thing I think of is a quote by author Shannon Hale that she posted on her Twitter account in 2015: “When writing a first draft, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m only shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” This is essential to remember. The first draft is most likely going to be terrible and that’s okay. That draft is all about you telling yourself the story. That’s not to say you can’t edit at all while you’re writing it, but don’t get bogged down by editing or seeking perfection until after you’ve written that draft. There will be a TON of editing. It’s the nature of the beast. In the first draft you should just have fun telling yourself the story and don’t feel bad if it’s not very good. You’ll deal with that later. As long as the foundation of the story is strong, you can turn it into a beautiful castle when you edit.
So much yes to all of this! It’s like that first draft is just introducing yourself to the story. The polishing comes later. Now I think it’s so fun that this is a retelling of Sense & Sensibility! Are there any other classics you’d love to write a retelling for someday?
Yes! So many! The other books in The Witchling Trilogy will each be a reimagining of a different Austen tale, which book exactly will be revealed when the blurbs for the second and third books are released so you’ll have to wait and see. I also have other series in the works as well that are retellings of various fairy tales and Shakespeare plays.
Lindt never fails honestly. A champion amongst chocolates. Thank you so much for stopping by for this epic chat!! It was amazing getting to know more about your writing process and The Secret of Dartwood Manor!
The ebook of The Secret of Dartwood Manor is currently ON SALE for $0.99! Don’t miss out on this epic deal, only for the duration of the blog tour! Grab a copy HERE. And here’s a link to Wishing Well Publishing’s shop where you can find witchling and bookish swag The official shop of Wishing Well Publishing – Wishing Well Merch.
Enter the rafflecopter below to win a kindle copy of The Secret of Dartwood Manor + a $10 USD Amazon Gift Card!
This is open internationally & it ends on July 21st, 2021.
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