Helena by Claire L. Smith | Spoilery Book Review/Chat

Helena by Claire L. Smith | Spoilery Book Review/Chat

Hai Beautiful!

Get ready for some spooks 🙈

If you have been on my seen any of my recent YouTube videos in the past few months, you’ll know that I have been hanging out to read this ever since it was announced!!

Helena by Claire L Smith book cover 188x300 - Helena by Claire L. Smith | Spoilery Book Review/ChatGoodreads Summary

On the outskirts of London, 1855, mortician and funeral director Helena Morrigan struggles with her limited finances and the heavy burdens of her past. Desperate to secure herself, she takes up residence in an aged house closer the graveyard, closer to the lost souls that sense her torment and are determined to take her place in the mortal world.

As she tries to tame and free the ghostly figures around her, she becomes acquainted with the owners of the home, the recently orphaned siblings, Eric, Audrey and Christian Tarter.

Yet, the souls she wants to save are on edge as a horrific serial killer runs rampant, giving Helena a boost in business and suspicion. Against her best efforts, Helena is suddenly thrown into a bloody mystery where new and old friendships are tested, innocents are maimed and a horrific family secret that threatens her chance at a peaceful existence and her existence itself.

To preface this review, I’m not a huge fan of paranormal horror, although I do love true crime, gore, gothic aesthetic and anything that doesn’t involve a cheap jump scare. In saying that, I’ve never actually read anything in these categories.

It’s about time this changes.

★ Rating ★

I rated this book ★★★★☆ (3.75/5 stars) because I freaking loved it! There is no better feeling in the world than hearing about a book for so long, making a bookmark inspired by it, receiving the book then finally reading it and loving it so much more than you expected to! Bonus points that it’s written by one of my good friends!


Helena, a mortician and funeral director, is haunted by the souls and presences of those who have passed. We learn throughout the course of this novel that these souls are of those who are aggressive and lost and can actually cause her harm.

It’s fascinating when you start reading because this story starts with a flashback, a little look into Helena’s past and a glimpse into what we are to expect from the rest of the novel.

Immersive storytelling and a grim discovery.

The rainy, Victorian vibe of the story really allowed me to fall into the gothic theme, a genre of which I haven’t ever explored. I just adored how immersive the story was, with Helena’s five senses being described to us with every line, I felt like I was with her along the way.


Alongside the vibe, I also really loved each of the characters. Minerva – Helena’s support and best friend – who would always be there whenever Helena needed to talk. Minerva is the only other person who knew about the souls that haunt Helena and her attempts at taming them, try to lay them to eternal rest.
I loved that Helena wasn’t alone in the world. Even though her gift may draw people away and freak out her family, she still has a support network and confidants. It was really nice to see the connection between the two women.
I really liked Minerva, no matter how many times I had to remind myself she was actually Helena’s age and not Minerva McGonnagal from Harry Potter.

The other characters that take the spotlight alongside Helena are the Tarter siblings, Eric, Christian and Audrey Tarter, and Audrey’s girlfriend Valerie. I’m not going to lie to you, I really was super suss about Christian from the first meeting, but I really shipped Helena and Eric (or Helena and Audrey, but that was before I realised she was taken).

Helena’s developing friendship with Audrey and Valerie was one of my favourite parts of the novel. Seeing her so easily accept the two of them in their relationship and just her ability to make and maintain her friendships despite all that is happening to her, plus her work, really gives an underlying message of hope for people who are going through something.

What weirded me out the most was Christan and Eric’s constant presence at the home that Helena was renting from them. I don’t know if I missed something but just their constant presence in a place that should be private to Helena, mixed with Christian’s hostility towards her made my skin crawl. Eric on the other hand I liked since he was so lovely towards Helena.

I was torn between shipping Helena and Eric as friends or lovers but I did love how their relationship progressed and how they seemed to just naturally be drawn towards each other.

To avoid spoiling the main twist of the story (and yes I am aware this is a spoiler review but I still feel bad spoiling the biggest part of the story), I will just say that I was so right about Christian and I still hate the dude!!!!

The Story

Helena is a novel with many aspects as the main premise of the story is a murder mystery.

A spooky, and eventually gorey, murder mystery!

I was completely not expecting the murder mystery aspect of it (probably because I didn’t read the blurb), but it was something I was absolutely intrigued with, especially when the murderer took to hurting the ones I had started to fall in love with.

My only criticism is that I wanted more! I just wanted so much more from this novel! There just seemed to be sections that were skipped that I would have loved to read about. Mundane aspects to Helena’s life or even just more discourse between her and the others in her life, not necessarily to build on the story, just to add more context to Helena’s life.

I am so excited to read Claire’s next novel and anything else she continues to write. Every time I speak to her I’m always asking her to tell me about what she’s writing and if there are any updates on her next novel coming out October 2021!

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See you back here on Monday’s (book reviews), Wednesday’s (storytime/ writing updates) and Saturday’s (other bookish content).

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