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From the bestselling author of Tangerine, a taut and mesmerizing follow up...voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn" (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark). It's 1966 and Frankie Croy retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice. Years have passed since the initial success of Frankie's debut novel and she has spent her career From the bestselling author of Tangerine, a taut and mesmerizing follow up...voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn" (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark). It's 1966 and Frankie Croy retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice. Years have passed since the initial success of Frankie's debut novel and she has spent her career trying to live up to the expectations. Now, after a particularly scathing review of her most recent work, alongside a very public breakdown, she needs to recharge and get re-inspired. Then Gilly appears. A precocious young admirer eager to make friends, Gilly seems determined to insinuate herself into Frankie's solitary life. But there's something about the young woman that gives Frankie pause. How much of what Gilly tells her is the truth? As a series of lies and revelations emerge, the lives of these two women will be tragically altered as the catastrophic 1966 flooding of Venice ravages the city. Suspenseful and transporting, Christine Mangan's Palace of the Drowned brings the mystery of Venice to life while delivering a twisted tale of ambition and human nature.


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From the bestselling author of Tangerine, a taut and mesmerizing follow up...voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn" (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark). It's 1966 and Frankie Croy retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice. Years have passed since the initial success of Frankie's debut novel and she has spent her career From the bestselling author of Tangerine, a taut and mesmerizing follow up...voluptuously atmospheric and surefooted at every turn" (Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and When the Stars Go Dark). It's 1966 and Frankie Croy retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice. Years have passed since the initial success of Frankie's debut novel and she has spent her career trying to live up to the expectations. Now, after a particularly scathing review of her most recent work, alongside a very public breakdown, she needs to recharge and get re-inspired. Then Gilly appears. A precocious young admirer eager to make friends, Gilly seems determined to insinuate herself into Frankie's solitary life. But there's something about the young woman that gives Frankie pause. How much of what Gilly tells her is the truth? As a series of lies and revelations emerge, the lives of these two women will be tragically altered as the catastrophic 1966 flooding of Venice ravages the city. Suspenseful and transporting, Christine Mangan's Palace of the Drowned brings the mystery of Venice to life while delivering a twisted tale of ambition and human nature.

30 review for Palace of the Drowned

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    I really enjoyed the way Christine Mangan brought the smells and sights of North Africa alive in her first novel Tangerine. And though I thought the book was somewhat let down by some contrived plotting, I did appreciate the way she developed interesting and believable characters. So what could she do with her second book, set largely in my favourite city of them all, Venice? I couldn’t wait to find out. France Croy (Frankie) grew up in London. During WWII, a war in which she lost her two brothe I really enjoyed the way Christine Mangan brought the smells and sights of North Africa alive in her first novel Tangerine. And though I thought the book was somewhat let down by some contrived plotting, I did appreciate the way she developed interesting and believable characters. So what could she do with her second book, set largely in my favourite city of them all, Venice? I couldn’t wait to find out. France Croy (Frankie) grew up in London. During WWII, a war in which she lost her two brothers, she was an air raid warden and shortly before the end of the war both of her parents were killed in a car accident. It was a cruel war indeed for Frankie. It’s now 1966 and she is an independent woman, a writer, who still lives in The Smoke. Her first novel was well received and earned her a good book deal but her subsequent books weren’t so successful and now she has used up the goodwill of her publisher to the extent that all she has left is the promise of ‘a look’ at her next book. Following a particularly critical review of her most recent novel, it seems that a nasty incident occurred at the Savoy Hotel. Details are initially sketchy, but the result is that after a short stay in a clinic she’s decided to take up an offer from a rich friend to spend some time at a large vacant palazzo in Venice. It’s out of season and the city feels dank and unwelcoming, but an extended break in another country might just keep her out of the limelight long enough to allow the noise back home to die down. It’s hardly relaxing though as in Frankie’s mind there is always the knowledge that she needs to provide a draft of her next book, the pivotal deliverable if she is to have an extended career as a novelist. Pretty soon the city seems to be weaving its magic on Frankie, who has settled into a lonely but peaceful existence and has even began to think about starting to write again. Then on one of her frequent forays out amongst the canals and bridges she meets a young woman, named Gilly, who claims to have met Frankie once before. And although she can’t recall the meeting Frankie rather reluctantly agrees to meet up over a cup of coffee in a few days. So starts a strange and slightly uncomfortable relationship between the reclusive writer and this eager, confident interloper. Once again, Mangan does a brilliant job of bringing the setting alive and also the relationship between this pair, which starts to slowly develop over the coming weeks. A small cast of support characters is introduced and the tension is maintained on a slow simmer as minor mysteries are discovered and remain unresolved and as Frankie’s mental health seems to hover on the brink. But then something happens and everything changes. It’s a shock and everything is thrown into the air. How the story plays out from this point is really the real strength of the book for me. I kept thinking that I knew where it was going, only to be thrown off track by an unexpected turn of events. At the centre, Frankie’s future as a writer and the stability of her mental health remain open questions, but in a tense and gripping final third of the book unresolved elements are dealt with and a dramatic conclusion is reached. It is, I have to say, all very well done. This is a step up from the author’s first book: the strengths of Tangerine are still evident here but the whole thing is more cohesive, more believable. Definitely one not to miss for lovers of dark literary thrillers. My sincere thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Max

    I'm a sucker for books with amazing settings, and I loved picturing 1960's Venice and the palace Frankie was staying in. The atmosphere matched with Mangan's beautiful writing is really what kept me turning pages until the final chapter. Palace of the Drowned is undoubtedly a slow read. Every page is placing the building blocks for the huge climax to come, and it delivered! You know that Gilly has a secret motive of some form throughout the story, but are never certain exactly what it is. If I ev I'm a sucker for books with amazing settings, and I loved picturing 1960's Venice and the palace Frankie was staying in. The atmosphere matched with Mangan's beautiful writing is really what kept me turning pages until the final chapter. Palace of the Drowned is undoubtedly a slow read. Every page is placing the building blocks for the huge climax to come, and it delivered! You know that Gilly has a secret motive of some form throughout the story, but are never certain exactly what it is. If I ever consider going to Venice, this will be the first book I contemplate revisiting. Palace of the Drowned's publication day is tomorrow and I'd definitely give it a shot if you enjoy scenic, eerie, and gothic settings. Thank you Flatiron Books.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    Frankie, a writer in her early forties, goes to stay in a Venetian palazzo, known locally as ‘the palace of the drowned’, that belongs to an heiress friend’s family. She’s fleeing a scandal back home in London: having become obsessed with a negative review of her last novel, she attacked a stranger at a party, mistakenly believing the woman was mocking her. In Venice, she ekes out a quiet, solitary existence – until a young woman called Gilly approaches her. Frankie is suspicious of Gilly, but t Frankie, a writer in her early forties, goes to stay in a Venetian palazzo, known locally as ‘the palace of the drowned’, that belongs to an heiress friend’s family. She’s fleeing a scandal back home in London: having become obsessed with a negative review of her last novel, she attacked a stranger at a party, mistakenly believing the woman was mocking her. In Venice, she ekes out a quiet, solitary existence – until a young woman called Gilly approaches her. Frankie is suspicious of Gilly, but the latter is so persistent that they form a friendship, albeit one that becomes increasingly strained. The first half is slow to get going, never really communicating much tension nor capturing the atmosphere of Venice. Gilly, meanwhile, is rendered almost too well; she’s so creepy and clingy that I hated to read about her, and was never quite convinced by Frankie’s acceptance of her ‘friendship’. Halfway through, something pivotal happens, and thereafter the plot becomes much more gripping. A feverish sequence portraying Frankie’s descent into paranoia is particularly effective. I didn’t like this as much as Mangan’s debut Tangerine, but most of the problems I had with it – not enough suspense, the nature of the ending – are just matters of personal taste. It was a nicely absorbing tale for a lazy Saturday afternoon, and like Tangerine it would make a good holiday read. I received an advance review copy of Palace of the Drowned from the publisher through Edelweiss. TinyLetter | Linktree

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    2.5 stars I read and loved Tangerine. So I was excited to get an opportunity to read and review Palace of the Drowned, to be published June 2021. I have traveled to Venice twice and I thought the description of the city was spot on. So atmospheric! However the characters were hard to warm up to. Frankie was just not that interesting and Jack, why name a female character Jack? It was distracting to me. All in all and ok read. I'm just tired of the stereotypical weak female in distress storyline. 2.5 stars I read and loved Tangerine. So I was excited to get an opportunity to read and review Palace of the Drowned, to be published June 2021. I have traveled to Venice twice and I thought the description of the city was spot on. So atmospheric! However the characters were hard to warm up to. Frankie was just not that interesting and Jack, why name a female character Jack? It was distracting to me. All in all and ok read. I'm just tired of the stereotypical weak female in distress storyline. Thank you to bookbrowse and Flatiron books for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Palace of the Drowned is a suspenseful, transporting literary thriller about a British novelist who heads to Venice after a public breakdown. It's 1966 and Frankie Croy is desperate to escape. Years have passed since the initial success of her debut novel, and Frankie has spent her career trying to live up to the expectations of her editor and fans, only to fall short with each new publication. Now, after a particularly scathing review of her most recent work, alongside a very public breakdown, Palace of the Drowned is a suspenseful, transporting literary thriller about a British novelist who heads to Venice after a public breakdown. It's 1966 and Frankie Croy is desperate to escape. Years have passed since the initial success of her debut novel, and Frankie has spent her career trying to live up to the expectations of her editor and fans, only to fall short with each new publication. Now, after a particularly scathing review of her most recent work, alongside a very public breakdown, Frankie retreats to her friend's vacant palazzo in Venice in the hopes of recapturing some of the inspiration that once motivated her. Then Gilly appears. A precocious young admirer eager to befriend her favourite author, Gilly seems determined to insinuate herself into Frankie's solitary life. But there's something about the young woman that continues to give Frankie pause, that makes her wonder just how much of what Gilly tells her is actually the truth. Set against the catastrophic 1966 flooding of Venice, the encounters between these two women will ultimately lead to a series of lies and revelations that will tragically disrupt both of their lives. This is a compulsive, captivating and immersive literary thriller steeped in 60's nostalgia and explores the crazy world of celebrity and those chasing said status. Christine Mangan has a knack for painting characters as though they're appearing in a movie before your very eyes; they're vivid and full of life and leap off the pages of the book. The narrative brings the mystery of Venice to life through rich, evocative descriptions while delivering a beautifully rendered and twisted tale of art, ambition and human nature, and it asks the question: how far is one willing to go to achieve success. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)

    Poor Frankie should have heeded the wisdom of seasoned authors: Never read the reviews of your own books. Superb writing, nice sense of place (Venice, 1966!), skillful character development, and sorry to say, mostly mediocre plot, with occasional bursts of brilliance. The pacing was consistently, exasperatingly slow for this reader.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    I received a gifted ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. It's 1966 and Venice is drowning. So too, it feels, is washed-up wunderkind author Frankie Croy, who has arrived to lick her wounds following a very public breakdown. Feeling increasingly trapped in the labyrinthian city, Frankie settles into an uneasy friendship with Gilly, a precocious young woman who claims a former acquaintance - but may not be all she seems. As the waters rise higher and the women find themselves tr I received a gifted ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. It's 1966 and Venice is drowning. So too, it feels, is washed-up wunderkind author Frankie Croy, who has arrived to lick her wounds following a very public breakdown. Feeling increasingly trapped in the labyrinthian city, Frankie settles into an uneasy friendship with Gilly, a precocious young woman who claims a former acquaintance - but may not be all she seems. As the waters rise higher and the women find themselves trapped in the imposing ruin of the palazzo, tensions mount and lies come to light. But will the flood wash away the past, or will it become a watery grave? The first 150 pages were a slog: heavy-handed in the introspective monologues and light on events to further the plot. While I recognize this is a stylistic choice, it is not one that often compels me to reach for the book, let alone finish it. It wasn't until the exact midway point of the book that something exciting (finally!) happened, and the swell of that action carried me through the end of the book. There were many references throughout the book to the geography of Venice (specific streets and buildings) and Italian culture (frequently-sprinkled words in Italian, customs that the reader is assumed to be familiar with) which made reading slow as I had to look everything up. A map of Venice should have been included, as I have visited the city and still wasn't able to keep track of the characters' movements. I found the character relationships to be convoluted, but appreciated the depth of character shown in Frankie, Jack, and Gilly - as well as the clever use of symbolism with Gilly's clothing to portray her slippy personality. The ending was sensible, if predictable. This book tries to be an Italian guide to culture, a murder mystery, and an historical fiction novel all rolled into one - but unfortunately manages to satisfy none of them.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Carroll

    I received this book as a giveaway in exchange for an honest opinion. I finished reading it which says a lot. If I had not given a commitment to write a review I would have stopped after the first chapter. It was slow and simply dragged on. I won't spend a lot of time on the issue of a published author having typos and grammar errors. The editor should have caught those. Using Italian words for things without giving the readers a clue as to what they were bothered me. I am not going to take the I received this book as a giveaway in exchange for an honest opinion. I finished reading it which says a lot. If I had not given a commitment to write a review I would have stopped after the first chapter. It was slow and simply dragged on. I won't spend a lot of time on the issue of a published author having typos and grammar errors. The editor should have caught those. Using Italian words for things without giving the readers a clue as to what they were bothered me. I am not going to take the time to find an Italian-English dictionary and look them up. I will say that in one chapter she must have realized her error and made references but then fell into old habits and stopped. For me, once I start skimming over words in a book then it's all downhill. I begin to skim past overly wordy paragraphs. The story line wasn't bad. In the end, all I took away from the entire book was Venice would be a dreadful place to visit. I'm sure the people of Venice would not be happy with how it was represented. There goes tourism dollars. Would I recommend it? Not really. I wish the author well but won't be reading any more of her work.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Blumenthal

    An excellent follow up to Tangerine, her previous novel. The author has an uncanny ability to use exotic settings to create modern day gothic literature. This time we are in Venice in the mid sixties. Frankie, a 42 year old author has been struggling as of late. After a first novel that was very well received, she has not been able to achieve that same level in her following novels. After a devastating review of her latest effort, she has a mental breakdown. On the advise of her best friend jack An excellent follow up to Tangerine, her previous novel. The author has an uncanny ability to use exotic settings to create modern day gothic literature. This time we are in Venice in the mid sixties. Frankie, a 42 year old author has been struggling as of late. After a first novel that was very well received, she has not been able to achieve that same level in her following novels. After a devastating review of her latest effort, she has a mental breakdown. On the advise of her best friend jack (a woman), she takes some time off at a palazzo in Venice. There she encounters Gilly a beautiful young woman who claims to know her. In time Frankie learns of her true identity and how she has played a part in her life. For most of the novel she reveals herself to be a besotted fan. Gilly eventually asks Frankie to read a novel that she has written, and this leads to some very interesting narratives pathways. We as readers do learn the reality of the situation, with some surprises that actually really aren't surprises at all (at least to this reader). The relationship between Frankie and Gilly leads to a thrilling climax that occurs during a massive storm that hits Venice. The novel reaches extreme Gothic proportions at this point. This is a very well plotted book, and it all comes together in the end. I found the end to be rather haunting and so well written.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gaja

    Hey, I won a copy of this book from Goodreads. I finished this book a couple days ago and have been kind of sitting on reviewing it because I don't know what to say about it. It's a quick read, because you want to know what's going to happen next, but, for me, that was because the back blurb said it was a mystery and I kept waiting for the mystery part to happen so I could start chewing on that plot thread. For the most part, what I think was the mystery component felt more like wicked social anx Hey, I won a copy of this book from Goodreads. I finished this book a couple days ago and have been kind of sitting on reviewing it because I don't know what to say about it. It's a quick read, because you want to know what's going to happen next, but, for me, that was because the back blurb said it was a mystery and I kept waiting for the mystery part to happen so I could start chewing on that plot thread. For the most part, what I think was the mystery component felt more like wicked social anxiety and paranoia, so instead of tense it more felt like a standard Thursday, so it didn't grab me. I think that if I hadn't read the back blurb and had a preconceived notion of where things were going to go based on my idea of what those things mean, I would have liked it more.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary McBride

    3.5-4 A very twisted story of a writer and the young fan she meets in Venice. An intense plot about ambition and those on the brink of madness. Mostly set in Venice during a catastrophic flood with an ominous feeling of doom. The ending was dark but well done.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melenia

    DNF - Not for me

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I thought Mangan’s previous psychological suspense novel, Tangerine (as in someone from Tangiers), was brilliant, so was looking forward to this. And it got off to a fabulous start. Some of the same elements were in place, with two women drawn into each other’s orbit and with something very off about it all. This one is set in Venice, where a struggling English writer, reeling from bad reviews for her most recent novel and a subsequent very public breakdown, has retreated to a friend’s vacant pa I thought Mangan’s previous psychological suspense novel, Tangerine (as in someone from Tangiers), was brilliant, so was looking forward to this. And it got off to a fabulous start. Some of the same elements were in place, with two women drawn into each other’s orbit and with something very off about it all. This one is set in Venice, where a struggling English writer, reeling from bad reviews for her most recent novel and a subsequent very public breakdown, has retreated to a friend’s vacant palazzo to lick her wounds and try to make progress on a new novel. (It’s set in the mid-60s, chiefly I think because some of the plot just couldn’t work in the present-day with its ubiquitous social media.) Decaying and maze-like Venice sets a beautifully creepy ambience, and the tension grows steadily, with unsettling hints of Hitchcock and Highsmith. Is Frankie (the novelist) in her right mind? Why is she seeing and hearing things no one else is? And just what does Gilly, the highly persistent young woman who seems to be a serial liar, want, exactly? Then, somewhere in the middle, the whole thing lost steam. Some of the plot developments just weren’t credible, I thought; though the author had tried to build a convincing framework based on Frankie’s mental fragility and social isolation, I still found myself thinking, several times, “Oh, come on! As if!” It was off to such a promising start that I couldn’t help but be disappointed that it lost its interest for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    If you’ve been to Venice, you know that in addition to being beautiful and historically fascinating, it’s also, well, kind of a creepy place. So I was delighted by the creepy premise of this creepy book set in—you guessed it—good old, creepy Venice. I didn’t love Tangerine so I was a bit skeptical about returning to Mangan’s work, but I’m so glad I did because this was an exceptionally good piece of fiction. Venice, with all its creepiness, is a fantastic place to set a novel, yet I rarely find th If you’ve been to Venice, you know that in addition to being beautiful and historically fascinating, it’s also, well, kind of a creepy place. So I was delighted by the creepy premise of this creepy book set in—you guessed it—good old, creepy Venice. I didn’t love Tangerine so I was a bit skeptical about returning to Mangan’s work, but I’m so glad I did because this was an exceptionally good piece of fiction. Venice, with all its creepiness, is a fantastic place to set a novel, yet I rarely find that it’s used to its potential. But Mangan achieved that and more in Palace of the Drowned, which is worth reading purely for the gorgeously atmospheric depiction of the Sinking City, and also boasts an intriguing, chillingly fascinating plot with terrifically rendered characters. I absolutely loved Frankie and the way she was depicted, and everything—from what transpired between her and Gilly to the strangle relationship she forms with the palazzo and the city itself—was gorgeous. Though the story itself is more than enough, this is also one of those books that is worth reading just for the pure pleasure of the reader experience. I found this to be particularly true having been to Venice, but I imagine it will resonate for those with no real world experience of it as well. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I enjoyed this one a lot! Very gothic feel, historical without feeling antiquated (1966 isn’t THAT long ago, after all). Just far enough into the past to feel like a different world. Lots of spooky stuff, and a very unlivable main character who is still fun to follow. Plus Venice! There aren’t enough books set in Venice.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Janelle Janson

    Review to come - Cemetery Dance

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This book follows the main character, Frankie, an author who just published her recent novel, which wasn't well-received. She gets a savage review and leaves London for Venice to start something new and distance herself from what's happened. The author wrote, "At first, Frankie tried to forget about the review, tried to push it out of her mind, but she had always had a tendency to fixate, to obsess. That day, she had cleaned her entire flat from top to bottom. When the house was spotless, and sh This book follows the main character, Frankie, an author who just published her recent novel, which wasn't well-received. She gets a savage review and leaves London for Venice to start something new and distance herself from what's happened. The author wrote, "At first, Frankie tried to forget about the review, tried to push it out of her mind, but she had always had a tendency to fixate, to obsess. That day, she had cleaned her entire flat from top to bottom. When the house was spotless, and she could find nothing more to spray or polish, she decided to contact her editor." Ultimately, the silence she finds is interrupted by someone from London who claims they know each other. Frankie doesn't remember and questions whether this woman is telling the truth. The story evolves from there. I loved when the author talked about the real Venetian women coming out of hiding when tourists left and how glamorous they were. The author made Venice such a character in this book. Everything was so real and vivid. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/chr...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This book is atmospheric, haunting, suspenseful, and much more. Whenever I picked up "Palace of the Drowned", I was whisked away back in time. This is the first book I have read by Christine Morgan, and her writing style is immersive. From the first page to the last, I was drawn into the world of the story taking place. I can only imagine the amount of research Ms. Morgan must have done, as the past came to life right before my eyes. This book surrounds Frankie, a well-known author. She travels t This book is atmospheric, haunting, suspenseful, and much more. Whenever I picked up "Palace of the Drowned", I was whisked away back in time. This is the first book I have read by Christine Morgan, and her writing style is immersive. From the first page to the last, I was drawn into the world of the story taking place. I can only imagine the amount of research Ms. Morgan must have done, as the past came to life right before my eyes. This book surrounds Frankie, a well-known author. She travels to Venice to get away from everything for a while, and, while there, meets a younger woman named Gilly who seems to know quite a lot about Frankie, and their lives begin to intertwine. I do not want to spoil anything in this review, so, I will simply say, this book is full of twists and turns, character ambition, lies, and deceit. Is everything as it seems, or is there much more going on than what it seems like? You will have to read to find out. If you enjoy literary suspense books, I recommend this novel! It had me turning the pages to see what would happen next, and my mouth dropped quite a few times. Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for the ARC of this book! All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    I would love to thank Flat Iron Books for the physical ARC of Palace of the Drowned. Christine Mangan , author, was a #1 Indie Pick for her book "Tangerine". I will also nominate her for IndieNext, for Palace of the Drowned. This book is about Frankie Croy, an author who had initial success in 1966, with her debut novel. Years later, she has spent a lot of years trying to please her editor and fans alike with a second successful book. But she's falling short, leading to a very public, very embarr I would love to thank Flat Iron Books for the physical ARC of Palace of the Drowned. Christine Mangan , author, was a #1 Indie Pick for her book "Tangerine". I will also nominate her for IndieNext, for Palace of the Drowned. This book is about Frankie Croy, an author who had initial success in 1966, with her debut novel. Years later, she has spent a lot of years trying to please her editor and fans alike with a second successful book. But she's falling short, leading to a very public, very embarrassing breakdown.. She retreats to her friend 's vacant palazzo in Venice to get re-inspired and to recharge her battery. Then Gilly appears. Gilly is a young admirer of her favorite author Frankie. Gilly is determined to ensconce herself into Frankie's quiet life, a much needed solitary life. But Frankie is hesitant, something about Gilly is off. This dark tale gets unbelievably tense as these two womens' life leads to a series of lies that will lead to tragedy, possibly for both of them. Palace of the Drowned is of the literary thriller genre and a truly twisted tale, think of something like The Talented Mr. Ripley! The questions of this book will deal with art, ability, mental illness, mental fragility and intense relationships, so it is also great for bookclubs. On sale June 2021. Get your copy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Atmospheric and eerie thanks to the pitch perfect depiction of Venice off season. The barely likable main character, Frankie and her relationships with Jack, Leonard and, above all Gilly seem contrived to me. Her indecision regarding these friends changed with each new chapter. The pacing seemed to drag in the middle though I did finish to see how the story resolved...(not a surprise ending). My main issue however is I felt I had read this storyline before: young author befriends older author wh Atmospheric and eerie thanks to the pitch perfect depiction of Venice off season. The barely likable main character, Frankie and her relationships with Jack, Leonard and, above all Gilly seem contrived to me. Her indecision regarding these friends changed with each new chapter. The pacing seemed to drag in the middle though I did finish to see how the story resolved...(not a surprise ending). My main issue however is I felt I had read this storyline before: young author befriends older author whose latest efforts failed to live up to expectations, "mayhem " ensues, young author's manuscript becomes latest offering of older author... A disappointing read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Johnson Barton

    This book didn’t really interest me until chapter 7. And then it took a few more chapters to hook me into the story. I think Mangan did a great job of creating a changeling of a character in Gilly. Our main character, perhaps by the author’s intent, I found to be unpleasant. Up until the last chapter or two, I truly thought I hated this book... but now that I have completed reading it, I think I am very glad I read it! I don't know how to describe it. **I wish there had been more in the story ab This book didn’t really interest me until chapter 7. And then it took a few more chapters to hook me into the story. I think Mangan did a great job of creating a changeling of a character in Gilly. Our main character, perhaps by the author’s intent, I found to be unpleasant. Up until the last chapter or two, I truly thought I hated this book... but now that I have completed reading it, I think I am very glad I read it! I don't know how to describe it. **I wish there had been more in the story about the 1966 flood of Venice.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Jones

    I was so disappointed in Tangerine but this book sounds so GOOD! I was so disappointed in Tangerine but this book sounds so GOOD!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sansom

    Ever since I read Christine Mangan’s debut novel, Tangerine, back in 2018 I’ve been prowling the book-o-sphere for news of another book. Her gift for creating a stylish, atmospheric and influential setting, and a quietly simmering tension that’s been likened to Patricia Highsmith, rendered me a huge and effusive fan of her work. Since I learned of that longed-for second novel, Palace of the Drowned, I’ve been beside myself waiting to read it. Thanks to #NetGalley, for making this reader’s wish c Ever since I read Christine Mangan’s debut novel, Tangerine, back in 2018 I’ve been prowling the book-o-sphere for news of another book. Her gift for creating a stylish, atmospheric and influential setting, and a quietly simmering tension that’s been likened to Patricia Highsmith, rendered me a huge and effusive fan of her work. Since I learned of that longed-for second novel, Palace of the Drowned, I’ve been beside myself waiting to read it. Thanks to #NetGalley, for making this reader’s wish come true! I’m not going to write about the plot of the story as the book’s own synopsis (above) covers this quite effusively, and I’m not a fan of spoilers. For me to add anything else about the finer points would definitely stray into that territory, and taint your enjoyment of the various mysteries yet to reveal themselves to you. My review focuses instead on the reader-relationship I developed with this book, because (to me) Christine Mangan is quite a seductress with her words. Their cadence and weave are placed with impeccable care and attention, evoking a wonderfully hypnotic narrative. With both her books I’ve found myself utterly immersed in her settings, both in terms of their geography and their era. To borrow (and paraphrase) a wonderful line I read within this novel; the story unwinds itself within me. The setting for Palace of the Drowned is a jaded but elegant Venice, not the glossy romanticised city of our tourguide-engorged expectations. It brought an authentic, faded grandeur to the backdrop that I found inescapably hypnotic. Even the party that Gilly coaxes Frankie to had a hauntingly out-of-time, fever-dream quality to it. The sights, sounds, smells and sensations are rendered with a bewitching clarity; I’ve never been to Venice but since starting this book it’s been added in big capital letters to my bucket list. I’m now yearning to experience the bustling markets, to scoff the delicious local krapfen pastries in a café overlooking one of the many campo, to sip red wine outside Frankie’s favourite bacari, to watch the golden hour (and the blue hour), to lose myself in the twisting streets and alleys and dead-ends, to be swaddled by the rolling fogs and all-consuming silent darkness of the uniquely Venetian nights. These details - and more - launch 1960s Venice out of the pages and into your mind’s eye with incredibly clarity; the gondolas and canals and lagoon are all part of the setting, but the author relies on her reader’s awareness of these landmarks, using them symbolically to create a mood, or elicit a low-level crackle of claustrophobic entrapment. As central characters go, Frankie is a bold choice - she’s prickly, secretive and solitary, making it difficult for the reader to connect with her. Her complexities are deepened further by her unpredictability and paranoia … and one or two episodes that make it clear she’s not the most reliable narrator. Frankie’s irascible nature is offset nicely by the cheerful and outgoing Gilly, and although it took me a while to settle into their unlikely connection, I enjoyed the contrast they brought to the story. However, secrecy was a trait common to both characters, and whilst this forms the crux of the tension within the novel, there were occasions when I became a little frustrated by it. There’s a foreboding sense of watchfulness throughout the plot, one that’s brought to bear both by the book’s other characters, and the palazzo itself. For a private character such as Frankie, this adds stifling touch of noir to the plot, albeit one that sadly loses its potency when she heads back home to London. Frankie is in Venice ostensibly to focus on recreating the magic of her first, highly-acclaimed novel, but the solitude and privacy she longed for is punctured by Maria; the surly housekeeper, and the mysterious inhabitant of the neighbouring apartment. Whilst the city starts to assert itself as Frankie’s muse, the harrying phone calls from her editor, Harold, and the well-meaning - albeit misguided - enquiries of her friend, Jack (she/her!), combined with Gilly’s mercurial presence all conspire against Frankie’s composition. When I wrote my review for Tangerine, I summed it up as follows: “This is what I would call a quiet suspense; it’s been elegantly written with a light touch, and the slow-burn style that reminds me of some of Hitchcock’s films … you know there are going to be creepy moments that give you goosebumps, but it’s delivered modestly and without fanfare … it’s an homage to 1950’s noir.” I adored the book for those qualities. Palace of the Drowned has taken the quiet lack of fanfare to another level. The smouldering, low-level sense of unease is even less distinct, ebbing and flowing to a degree that the goosebumps I so craved from this novel didn’t get the opportunity to really make themselves felt. I know I keep harking back to Tangerine, but I’m finding it hard not to hold the two novels up for comparison. This extreme subtlety, combined with a character set I struggled to connect with, offset the genuine enjoyment I’d felt for many other elements of the book; the setting, atmosphere, and it’s struggling-author plot line were all superb and held so much promise, as did the hauntingly fatalistic history of the Palazzo itself. Whilst there is a degree of ‘historical’ to this novel, I’ve not read it as a work of historical fiction in its purest form as the era is really just a contextual setting rather than the reason the novel came into being. The vernacular, styles and social details all help to enhance an unfamiliar backdrop, with a beautiful visual imagery that’s powerful enough to convince me that - in the right hands - we humans are capable of time travel. Palace of the Drowned is undoubtedly going to be much talked about.  Whilst my experience with this book has very different to the first novel, I hugely enjoyed giving myself up to the author's wonderful knack for transporting her readers into a waking dream.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Vansa

    This is an atmospheric Gothic suspense story, set in Venice in the 60s. Frances is a writer, who's staying at her friend's Palazzo in Venice , to overcome her writer's block. The book then proceeds to take you through her stay, with flashbacks to her mental state before leaving London for Venice, and her ( what seems like undiagnosed and most definitely untreated) PTSD post surviving World War 2 and dealing with the death of her parents. She meets a 20 year old calling herself Gilly, who in typi This is an atmospheric Gothic suspense story, set in Venice in the 60s. Frances is a writer, who's staying at her friend's Palazzo in Venice , to overcome her writer's block. The book then proceeds to take you through her stay, with flashbacks to her mental state before leaving London for Venice, and her ( what seems like undiagnosed and most definitely untreated) PTSD post surviving World War 2 and dealing with the death of her parents. She meets a 20 year old calling herself Gilly, who in typical suspense novel fashion , claims to know Frances but Frances can't place her at all. The author's description of Venice , in off-season, is excellent, and the place comes alive. I loved the descriptions of Frances' daily routines and observations of Venice as a crumbling realm, haunted by ghosts of her time in the sun. The stress she's under to write a book that matches her first novel ,is described very well too. What I didn't like though, were the rest of her characters- Gilly's motivations aren't clear at all, and quite honestly make no sense. Frances seems to be leading quite a full life, comfortable in a new country with a new language, till the author decides to change her behaviour, sometimes mid-paragraph, which is almost whiplash inducing. She's also immensely privileged- most people suffering from writer's block wouldn't get a Venetian Palazzo, complete with housekeeper! Her friend who owns it, Jack, seems to go above and beyond in performing her duties of friendship and care, so some of Frances' insecurity came across as mildly annoying- this is a woman who survived the Blitz, her parents death, has written 4 successful books, why depict her in this way, merely to force fit a Gothic narrative? I found the writing to be a little too in love with form over substance- suspense novels can't coast along merely on things that go bump in the dark and fog, you need the plot to be tautly wound and tension to be maintained. This book focusses too much on the former and not on the latter. So while the book kept me hooked while I was reading it because her descriptions are very good, and it's interesting to read about a writers process, it's not a memorable read. I would still recommend it, though, it's a perfect summer beach read!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Thank you to Christine Mangan and Flatiron Books for the ARC of "Palace of the Drowned." From the moment I started this book, I was entranced by the atmospheric sights and smells of Venice, Italy. Venice definitely plays a huge role in the telling of this story and is almost like another character in the book. Without giving too much away, this is a spellbinding story of Frankie, a British author who takes refuge in Venice, after a poor reception of her latest book. She goes to Venice to stay by Thank you to Christine Mangan and Flatiron Books for the ARC of "Palace of the Drowned." From the moment I started this book, I was entranced by the atmospheric sights and smells of Venice, Italy. Venice definitely plays a huge role in the telling of this story and is almost like another character in the book. Without giving too much away, this is a spellbinding story of Frankie, a British author who takes refuge in Venice, after a poor reception of her latest book. She goes to Venice to stay by herself at a friend's palazzo in order to re-group and to get back her writing mojo. The story takes place shortly before the horrific flooding in Venice in 1966. While staying in Venice, Frankie is accosted by Gillie, a very intense fan of her work. Gillie pushes herself into Frankie's life, against Frankie's better judgement and that's when things start to get interesting. This book kept me on my toes. I could not guess the ending, which to me is a sign of a good plot. I will definitely have to check out Christine Mangan's other book, "Tangerine."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis Krall

    Palace of the Drowned is a psychological thriller with unforgettable characters and unforeseen twists. Frankie Cory is a writer who has had great success with her first book but the reviews of her others have not been good. Her last negative review has caused her to have a breakdown, and she goes away to a clinic for therapy. When Frankie gets out, she feels that she needs a change is scenery and accepts her friend Jack’s invitation to stay in an old palazzo in Venice. It is off season there, and Palace of the Drowned is a psychological thriller with unforgettable characters and unforeseen twists. Frankie Cory is a writer who has had great success with her first book but the reviews of her others have not been good. Her last negative review has caused her to have a breakdown, and she goes away to a clinic for therapy. When Frankie gets out, she feels that she needs a change is scenery and accepts her friend Jack’s invitation to stay in an old palazzo in Venice. It is off season there, and she thinks that she will be able to work in a new novel without any distractions. Frankie hears voices even though there is no one else staying at the palazzo. The atmosphere is dark and chilling, giving her a sense that she is being watched. A strange girl seems to be following Frankie in the village and introduces herself as Gilly, an admirer of hers. She has read all of Frankie’s books and seems to idolize her but Gilly is not who she seems to be and Frankie doesn’t trust her . As the two spend time together , Gilly’s behavior becomes stranger bringing fear and unexpected tragedy into Frankie’s life. Venice becomes a chilling and dangerous place to be. I enjoyed this thriller that was sent to me from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review. Exchange for an honest review. The descriptions of the palazzo and Venice made me feel as if I were actually there . The ending was totally unexpected and left me much to think about. Highly recommended.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Megan Burge

    I want to preface this by saying that I bought this novel strictly because of the title, because, obviously, Palace of the Drowned is just a really great title for a book. The setting of the novel, Venice in the ‘60s, was perfection. The characters and plot, however, left a lot to be desired. After suffering from a nervous breakdown following the publication and poor reception of her third novel, author Frances “Frankie” Croy needs to get away. Her only friend offers to put her up in her family’ I want to preface this by saying that I bought this novel strictly because of the title, because, obviously, Palace of the Drowned is just a really great title for a book. The setting of the novel, Venice in the ‘60s, was perfection. The characters and plot, however, left a lot to be desired. After suffering from a nervous breakdown following the publication and poor reception of her third novel, author Frances “Frankie” Croy needs to get away. Her only friend offers to put her up in her family’s palazzo in Venice. With some reluctance, Frankie goes, spending a great deal of time alone until one day her path crosses with a “fan.” This had the makings for something great, but the plot continued to fall short for me. Every time I thought I had a hunch about where this story was going, I was proven wrong, because the story really goes nowhere. 3 stars for the author’s beautiful prose and for that title, though.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Crocker

    Mangan seems to embrace the challenge of prickly unreliable heroines and, like _Tangerine_, the effect is unsettling. Frankie, a midlist author strives to write her way past failure and rejection in a decaying Venetian palazzo. Despite the proffered friendship of a young admirer, Gilly, and the sustaining aid of her oldest and dearest friend, Jack, her mind and instincts undermine her at every turn; she spends much of the novel trying in vain to "rid herself of feelings." p 34 "'I'm sick to death Mangan seems to embrace the challenge of prickly unreliable heroines and, like _Tangerine_, the effect is unsettling. Frankie, a midlist author strives to write her way past failure and rejection in a decaying Venetian palazzo. Despite the proffered friendship of a young admirer, Gilly, and the sustaining aid of her oldest and dearest friend, Jack, her mind and instincts undermine her at every turn; she spends much of the novel trying in vain to "rid herself of feelings." p 34 "'I'm sick to death of stories where anyone over thirty is ancient and forty extinct. Do you know I read a novel the other day and was convinced for about three-quarters of it that the protagonist was a woman of at least seventy before the author got around to declaring her thirty-eight.'" p. 223

  29. 5 out of 5

    Royce

    After reading Mangan’s first novel, Tangerine, I was excited to read her new novel, Palace of the Drowned. The writing and her ability to create such a chilling, creepy, and mesmerizing atmosphere in 1960’s Venice kept me reading through to the last page. Her writing creates a kind of Hitchkockian feeling; but It was a very slow read. The story took too long to reach its final climax. Also, I did not warm up to the main character, Frankie, she was a whiny writer, struggling to cope with a bad re After reading Mangan’s first novel, Tangerine, I was excited to read her new novel, Palace of the Drowned. The writing and her ability to create such a chilling, creepy, and mesmerizing atmosphere in 1960’s Venice kept me reading through to the last page. Her writing creates a kind of Hitchkockian feeling; but It was a very slow read. The story took too long to reach its final climax. Also, I did not warm up to the main character, Frankie, she was a whiny writer, struggling to cope with a bad review. If you’re looking for a slow, well-written story on a rainy Saturday afternoon, this is the book for you!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Big Bertha

    I loved the authors previous novel 'Tangerine', so when I saw she had a new book coming out I was keen to start reading it. I wasn't immediately convinced, it started slow and took a while to grab my attention, but I'm glad I persevered as before long I found myself transported to Venice in the 60's. The impeccable scene setting and atmosphere of this novel almost reminiscent of a Hitchcock thriller with its vivid portrayal of the faded grandeur and deserted walkways of Venice out of season draw I loved the authors previous novel 'Tangerine', so when I saw she had a new book coming out I was keen to start reading it. I wasn't immediately convinced, it started slow and took a while to grab my attention, but I'm glad I persevered as before long I found myself transported to Venice in the 60's. The impeccable scene setting and atmosphere of this novel almost reminiscent of a Hitchcock thriller with its vivid portrayal of the faded grandeur and deserted walkways of Venice out of season drawing me in and as the storm approached, the waters rose and the sense of foreboding grew, I was hooked. The portrayal of an established author struggling to recreate the magic of her previous bestseller, feeling isolated and vulnerable in a strange city was superbly done, as was the feeling of unease as a stranger claiming a previous acquaintance made her appearance. I really liked this one despite the slow start, it was more of a slow burn kind of book, the type that lingers in your thoughts long after you’ve finished reading it. It didn’t have same magnetic appeal from the outset as the authors previous novel but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it and I'll definitely be at the front of the queue when her next novel is released eager to see where she will be transporting me to next. My thanks to Little, Brown Book Group and NetGalley for the advance copy for review purposes, I was under no obligation and all opinions expressed are my own.

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