The House on Durrow Street

The House on Durrow Street

by Galen Beckett


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“A charming and mannered fantasy confection with a darker core of gothic romance” is how New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb described Galen Beckett’s marvelous series opener, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. Now Beckett returns to this world of dazzling magick and refined manners, where one extraordinary woman’s choice will put the fate of a nation—and all she cherishes—into precarious balance.
Her courage saved the country of Altania and earned the love of a hero of the realm. Now sensible Ivy Quent wants only to turn her father’s sprawling, mysterious house into a proper home. But soon she is swept into fashionable society’s highest circles of power—a world that is vital to her family’s future but replete with perilous temptations.

Yet far greater danger lies beyond the city’s glittering ballrooms—and Ivy must race to unlock the secrets that lie within the old house on Durrow Street before outlaw magicians and an ancient ravening force plunge Altania into darkness forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553807592
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Pages: 704
Sales rank: 630,588
Product dimensions: 8.54(w) x 11.28(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

What if there was a fantastical cause underlying the social constraints and limited choices that confront a heroine in a novel by Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë? Galen Beckett began writing the stories of the Lockwell sisters to answer that question.

Read an Excerpt


IVY WOKE TO the sound of voices.

She sat up and reached for Mr. Quent beside her, wondering if he had murmured something in his sleep as he often did. Her hand found only a cold tangle of bedclothes. He was gone--a fact her dull mind recalled after a moment--off to the north of Altania on business for the lord inquirer. He had left nearly a quarter month ago and would not return before Darkeve at the end of the month.

Besides, it was not from inside the bedchamber that the murmuring had come.

Ivy rose, gathering a nightgown around her, for it was late in a long umbral and the coals in the fireplace had burned to cinders. She stood in a beam of moonlight that had slipped through a gap in the curtains, listening. Was Rose wandering the house in the night as was her habit, singing softly to herself? Or perhaps it was Lily, making exclamations as she read by candlelight in her room, turning the final pages of one of her romances.

Ivy heard nothing save the beating of her own heart. The high hedges outside guarded against the noises of the city, and the old house on Durrow Street was silent. She turned to go back to bed.

This time the voices were louder: a chorus of whispers that seemed to come from outside her bedchamber door. By the deep tones, it was neither Lily nor Rose. Nor could it be any of the servants; their quarters were still under renovation, and they were not yet in residence. Which meant the moonbeam was not the only interloper in the house.

A dread descended over Ivy. Not three months ago, upon his return to the city from Torland, a band of revolutionaries had set upon Mr. Quent as he met with the lord inquirer. Their intent had been nothing less than murder. However, Mr. Quent had been warned of the attack beforehand, and the rebels were apprehended before they could act. Yet if they had desired to do violence to agents of the Crown, it was not difficult to believe there were others who might wish the same.

Her heart quickened as she went to the door. She pressed a hand to it, as if she might sense through its panels what lay beyond. If only the door was fashioned of timbers from the Wyrdwood! She would call to the wood, wake it from its slumber, and shape it with her thoughts. What did a witch have to fear from a robber when there was Wyrdwood nearby?

But the material beneath her hands was inert, hewn from a tree of New Oak; it could be of no help to her. Despite this fact, Ivy summoned her courage. After all, she told herself, this house belonged to her father; it was a magician's dwelling, and so had its own powers and protections. She opened the door and stepped into the corridor beyond.

It was empty except for the moonlight that spilled through a window at the end. All was quiet; the voices had ceased.

Ivy moved down the corridor, pausing to crack the door to Lily's room, then Rose's, peering inside. Both of her sisters were asleep. She wondered if it was the sound of wind she had heard. Sometimes, in the months she had dwelled at Heathcrest Hall, the wind over the eaves had sounded like whispering voices. Only, when she reached the window, she saw that the straggled hawthorn and chestnut trees below stood motionless.

So much for that hypothesis. Her gaze roved across the garden, but she perceived only shadows. Beyond the hedges, a scattering of gold lights shone here and there in the Old City. Another spark, brighter and more reddish than the streetlamps, hung low in the southern sky. Otherwise, the night was void.

Ivy shivered in her nightgown. According to the almanac, it was to be an umbral of over twenty-two hours. Frost would tinge the windowpanes by the time dawn came. Despite the cold, she did not return to her room. Instead, she went to the stairs to begin a survey of the house.

It took half of an hour, for the house was much larger than their previous dwelling on Whitward Street. She moved up and down staircases, through narrow passages and across vaulted halls. Many of the chambers were in various states of refurbishment, and others were all but impassable, crowded with furniture moved out of those rooms under repair.

The task of opening the house on Durrow Street was proving to be a greater labor than she had guessed. How unwise she had been, to think she could have accomplished the task on the wages of a governess! Much had become dilapidated in the years the house had stood empty. And she suspected that even when her father had dwelled here, all had not been cared for as properly as it might have been.

Mr. Quent had quickly educated her as to the enormity of the work on the day they made their first inspection of the house. The roof sagged over the north wing, and in the south the floors were rotten. The cellar showed signs that water seeped in when it rained; there were myriad broken windows, cracked walls, and faulty beams. Such was the length of the report that Ivy feared to be told that the only solution was to raze the house to rubble.

Instead, Mr. Quent had sat in the dusty light of the downstairs parlor and, in his cramped yet meticulous hand, had written out a list of repairs to be undertaken. It was a document that required several pages.

"I cannot possibly imagine the cost of this," she had said in astonishment when he gave it to her to review.

"As there is no need for you to imagine it, I suggest you do not attempt such a futile and obviously distressing feat."

"But the repairs are so great. It will be an exorbitant sum--over five thousand regals, I am sure!"

"And now it appears you can envision it quite well, Mrs. Quent. How curious for a thing you could not possibly imagine a moment ago."

"I mean only, is it worth the expense for a house that is so very old?"

His brown eyes had been solemn as he regarded her. "It is worth it because it is so very old."

With that, all other arguments were superseded. The letter was delivered to a builder, and work commenced at once.

Now, as she walked through its moonlit chambers, Ivy wondered just how old her father's house was. Many of the buildings in the Old City had been in existence for centuries, and were built on the foundations of structures more ancient yet. However, while the other dwellings and shops and churches in this part of Invarel all crowded together, her father's house stood apart in its garden, a thing unto itself. Nor was it constructed of the same gray stone as the other buildings, but rather hewn of a reddish porphyry, speckled with interesting inclusions and darker crystals. Ivy wished she could ask her father about the age of the house. But that was not possible.

True, her father's state was better than it had been several months ago. Now, when Ivy went to Madstone's to visit him each quarter month, she was able to sit with him in his private chamber. The room was in the dormitory where the wardens dwelled, far removed from the awful clamor of the rest of the hostel, and Ivy had been allowed to make it familiar and comfortable with furnishings brought from his attic at Whitward Street.

The only thing the wardens had not permitted her to bring was any of Mr. Lockwell's books, for these were deemed too likely to agitate him. Her father had been a doctor and a man of learning, and Ivy did not like to deprive him of at least a small library. Yet while she did not think kindly of the wardens at Madstone's, she had to wonder if perhaps they were right. Her father had seemed exceedingly placid on her recent visits. He had even smiled at her from time to time.

Yet he never spoke her name, or any other intelligible thing. Lord Rafferdy's influence had been enough to improve her father's treatment at the hostel. But the royal charter under which Madstone's operated granted it considerable autonomy, and no patient would be released unless the wardens deemed him cured or the king ordered it.

While her father was improved, even Ivy could not pretend he was cured of his malady. As for gaining a writ with the king's seal, Lord Rafferdy had submitted the petition. However, King Rothard was infirm himself these days. A recent edition of The Comet reported that while the Citadel had tried to keep the news from public knowledge, the king had been confined to his bed for nearly a half month of late.

This was ill news, but Ivy would not stop hoping for the king's health--and her father's--to improve. In the meantime, whatever the age of the house on Durrow Street might be, she was beginning to think that it would increase by at least another year before the work on it was completed. The repairs were going more slowly than she had anticipated. Materials had grown dearer and scarcer of late. And, according to the builder, he had lost several skilled craftsmen.

"How have they been lost?" she had heard Mr. Quent ask Mr. Barbridge one day as she descended the stairs to the front hall.

The builder had shifted from foot to foot, turning his hat in his hands. "They say it watches them while they work. The house, they mean. I beg your pardon, Mr. Quent, for it's a foolish bit of fancy, I know. Yet they're simple men, and all those eyes--well, they do give one a feeling."

His gaze had gone toward the knob atop the newel post, which was carved in the shape of an eye. It blinked a wooden lid and turned in its socket, gazing about in a quizzical fashion. There were others in the house--set into moldings and doors--which often did the same as one passed by.

Open or shut, the eyes never troubled Ivy. If her father had not created them himself, then at least he had been aware of their enchantment. And if he had tolerated them, then why shouldn't she? Besides, she was glad for their presence in those times when Mr. Quent was away. Most of the magicians of the Vigilant Order of the Silver Eye were gone--perished, or locked away in Madstone's. But there was at least one who remained. Even if it was the case that Mr. Bennick was no longer a magician himself, that did not mean he was no longer perilous. She and Mr. Rafferdy had witnessed that firsthand. So she was grateful that the house kept watch.

By his grimace, the builder did not agree. Ivy and Mr. Quent had not discussed it, but after that day she went through the house, draping cloths over all of the carved eyes she could find. However, at the end of each lumenal when the workmen left, she would uncover the eye on the newel post at the foot of the stairs. That one, at least, she would leave to keep its silent vigil.

Now, as Ivy started back up the staircase, that eye was shut fast. Her own eyes wished to follow suit, and a yawn escaped her as she climbed. Since leaving her room, she had heard nothing except for the sound of her own footsteps and those natural sounds a house makes at night--the groan of shifting beams, the creak of an eave as it settled--which can give no rational mind cause for fear.

What had been the source of the whispering voices, she could not say. Ivy had not thought them to be figments of a dream, but now she had to admit that it was possible. She reached the top of the stairs and went to her bedchamber, ready to return to sleep.

This time it was not a whispering she heard, but rather a distant clattering. She turned from the door. The sound had echoed from down the corridor. Nor could it be ascribed to a dream this time.

Ivy started forward even as it occurred to her this was absurd. If there really was an intruder in the house, what would she do if she encountered him? She was a smallish woman of twenty-three years clad in a night robe and slippers--hardly a thing to inspire alarm or cause a thief to flee. Yet she could not return to her room and huddle in her bed knowing there was another presence in the house.

Ivy crept down the corridor, then turned a corner into the north wing. The passage beyond was cluttered with lengths of wood and crumpled heaps of cloth. A sheet draped the window at the end, dimming the moonlight to a gray gloom.

Again she heard a noise: louder now, as of sharp objects being struck together. She stopped before a door halfway along the corridor. Ivy laid a hand on the knob; like many in the house, it was formed in the shape of a brass orb clutched in an eagle's talons. The metal was icy to the touch.

A feeling came over her as it sometimes did at night--a sense that the darkness pressed in from all around, seeping through cracks and beneath doors, seeking to smother everything. The Testament said that before the world was made, only darkness existed. In moments like this, she could believe it sought dominion once again.

Suddenly convinced that she did not want to see what lay in the room beyond, Ivy snatched her hand back. So violent was her motion that she flung the knob away from her as she recoiled, and the door, not being fully latched, swung inward.

A coldness rushed out. The clacking came again, loud and jolting, but her mind could not grasp what it was. There was another sound, like that of a wet cloth being shaken, and something lurched across the floor not five feet away from her.

In the gloom it was no more than a shapeless blot, scuttling like some half-formed thing not ready to have been birthed. The coldness froze her; she could not move. Then the thing rose up off the floor and spread itself outward, as if to catch her in its black embrace.

Ivy screamed.

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The House on Durrow Street 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was torn between giving this book 3 stars and giving it 4. I'd really give it a 3.5, but I lean a bit toward the three because the beginning of this book is horribly slow compared to what I was expecting after finishing The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. However it did pick up around page 400 and then I couldn't put it down! Overall it was a good read and I understand why it took awhile to get to where it was going, but I wish it had moved along just a wee bit faster.
Patokagwp More than 1 year ago
I can't believe no one has a review out for this. It is a fantastic book and this author is going places. You have to read "The Magicians and Mrs. Quent" first to enjoy this book to its fullest. It is a long read but so enjoyable, so much mystery. The reader is taken along with the characters on their journey of discovery. It is an alternate world. It sounds like London and Great Britain but here it is Invarnel and Altania. The king is ill, perhaps dying but he is still of a strong mind. He wants his daughter to rule after him and wants the aristocrats to recognize her as his successor. Mrs. Quent hears whispering and sees black storks in her home that is being remodelled, courtesy of her husband. He is still the myterious Mr. Quent. A man finds his magic - that of illusions, but at what cost? Mr. Rafferdy takes up his father's seat in the Assembly (the government) while his father fights a mysterious illness. All of these threads are woven together and there is so much more to learn as you follow their lives. I look forward to more from Galen Beckett and so will you.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Saving her country Altania and having married the mage Mr. Quent, the witch Ivy and her sisters have been welcomed back by the aristocracy (see The Magicians and Mrs. Quent). She and her siblings establish a residence in the mysterious house inherited from their late father on Darrow Street. However, all is not quite idyllic in Ivy's world as she feels pulled by two conflicting natures. First she is a witch married to a magician and that is hard to ignore. Then there is her place in high society. Though both have some inclusiveness, mostly they are exclusive. All those woes come across as nothing compared with learning the secrets of The House on Durrow Street before raging rogue magicians cause further havoc throughout the land. This is a terrific dark fantasy in which magic feels genuine due mostly from the interesting eccentric support cast and the title abode. The heroine is a fabulous lead protagonist who readers will like and root for as she works the enigma of what she and her sisters inherited. Galen Beckett obviously had fun writing the second Mrs. Quent quirky fantasy. Harriet Klausner
PaperCrystals on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's a pastiche of Bronte and Austen! It's a fantasy! It's... got Lovecraftian style Old Gods?The book is difficult to get into, as the first one was, but more compelling the longer I stuck with it. The whole Old God thing at the end really threw me- it honestly didn't seem to fit into the world as it had been described.I have such mixed feelings. I'm going to read the third one- I can't imagine not reading it- but the erratic days/nights/seasons really irritate me in my science. It's hard to get past.
justabookreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The House on Durrow Street is the sequel to The Magicians & Mrs. Quent. After saving Altania from evil, Ivy Quent is living happily with her two sisters and her new husband in her father¿s old house. In the midst of restoring the house to its former glory, many odd things are found, but knowing her father was a magician, none of these things faze the rather unflappable Ivy. Soon, Ivy and Mr. Quent are swept into the high circles of Altania society, Ivy especially attending party after party. Nothing seems amiss in her world until she begins to experience a strange calling from the trees and finds out that the magic her father used to safeguard the house may not be as strong as she once thought.Two things about these books: 1.) I like the world. It¿s sort of an alternative Edwardian England with magic and it¿s very appealing. And 2.) Ivy is a very likable character. Two more things about these books: 1.) Ivy somehow got a bit dense after she got married; and 2.) I still felt as if I was reading different books only tangentially tied together by a few characters that crossed paths every once in a while. I had this same complaint about the first book and that was not alleviated with the second. There are characters and sub-plots in this book that go nowhere and seem to have no ties to the ending. I do like these other characters and story lines and I especially liked the different look at the lives of those in Altania but having characters meet up in a bar doesn¿t make the stories mesh. And, it moves slow. Very slow. In The Magicians & Mrs. Quent, I felt like the pace moved faster but in The House on Durrow Street I kept waiting for something to happen and it doesn¿t until 550 pages in to the 602 page book. I¿m a sucker for a series (probably something I don¿t have to state if you¿ve been reading my reviews) but I¿m not sure about this one. I so wanted to love it because I really like the world built by Beckett but I don¿t feel as if the story is going anywhere. For me, the world can¿t be everything and I think that¿s the way I feel about this one. I still need things to happen and they don¿t seem to be. Then again, maybe it¿s me so feel free to ignore at will.A third book in the series is planned --- The Master of Heathcrest Hall. While I wasn¿t so enthralled with the first two, something still nags at me and tells me I¿ll be reading the third wondering what¿s going to happen with Altania even if I¿m not sure that I¿m totally invested anymore. Odd? No. Call me a book addict is all.
DWWilkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first book was one of the best reads of 2008. This is still a great read also, but there is something lacking and something added. We have three protagonists, Mrs. Quent, Rafferdy and Garritt. Just as the first book, we had these three lead us along on adventure.There are many elements of regency romance in these books and the dialogue is so well done that it adds to the richness of the story. One thing that is not well done is the passing of the responsibilities of the previous generation to the next. It is not very believable that Lord Rafferdy does not explain all to his son. With so much of importance happening and set to happen, his son surely needs to know or have someone to talk to. That the father is the CIA or the kingdom, seems more like a device to keep knowledge the son needs away from him.That Mrs. Quent can not see the unrequited love of her friend, also is hard to believe. In a society where friendships are pretty well moderated, having a man be the kind of friend that Mrs. Quent now has, should be a clear sign that something is amiss.The last quibble, and because the book is so rich, they are all quibbles, is that the enemy is fairly obvious by the time we reach him. Perhaps not all of his ties, but one subplot that involves us is very decipherable. Action also is somewhat lacking in this book until the end. A red herring, or just something to remind the heroes that they are heroic and did heroic acts in the previous book, and should not rest on their laurels or be on vacation, would have been nice.This book definitely ends with plans for the next. One hopes it will arrive much sooner than this sequel did.
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Ivy Quent, after discovering her own powers and driving off the magicians that were attempting to use her father's magical instruments for their own dark purposes, wants nothing more to settle down with her husband, restore her father's old house, and live a quiet life. Mr. Rafferdy wants a life of indolence and society, but is forced to participate in the government of Altania due to his father's illness, and becomes increasingly involved in magical studies of his own. Eldyn Garritt isn't sure what he wants: he's been drawn to the priesthood since he was a boy, and yet he finds himself increasingly drawn to the sinful realm of the theater... and to one young illusionist in particular. But none of them are seeking their desires in a vacuum; things are changing in Altania - the red planet has appeared in the sky, the almanacs can no longer predict the lengths of the ever-varying days and nights, and political unrest is growing throughout the country, particularly in places with stands of the ancient Wyrdwood - and these three young people will each have their parts to play in the coming turbulence, if they are to keep Altania from plunging into chaos and never-ending night.Review: The House on Durrow Street was one of those strange cases where it's a really long book that never felt like it was dragging, but in which, in retrospect, not that much actually happened until the very end. That's not to say that this book was boring - far from it - but it's definitely character- rather than plot-driven, which makes summarizing the main story points somewhat difficult. The saving grace (and big attraction) of this book is how wonderful those characters are. Ivy, Eldyn, and Rafferdy are all so thoroughly charming that even their quotidian struggles become of vast importance, and worth reading about even when they don't directly advance the plot per se. In particular, while I was less interested in Eldyn's storyline in the first book, in this book I completely fell for him, and was cheering him on almost from his first chapter. Ivy, on the other hand... I still love her, but is it just me, or is she getting dumber? Ivy's smarts were her best feature, and while she's still quite clever, her intelligence did seem to desert her at some particularly crucial moments.One of my issues with The Magicians and Mrs. Quent was that it felt like it just had too much crammed in there, and that it didn't all tie together as well as it should (Eldyn's storyline in particular seemed mostly unconnected to the rest of the storyline.) The House on Durrow Street does a better job with this, I think; while the three individual storylines actually overlap less than they did in the first book, they all tie together much more cohesively by the end. The plot did have some points that were fairly predictable (for me; see above for my comments about how predictable Ivy found them), but it also managed to throw in a fair number of surprises. And there was just the right mix of giving enough clues to figure out what's really going on in Altania, while still retaining enough of the mystery that I'm now itching for the third book to be published! 4 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: The House on Durrow Street is not at all a stand-alone; it relies very heavily on the events of The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. I'd definitely recommend the series to fans of historical/regency fantasy who are looking for a book that's more complex in its worldbuilding and characterizations than the more typical "using magic to snare a wealthy husband" variety.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good sequel to The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. The astronomy of the variable-length days still bothers me, but it looks as if Beckett may actually have a plan in mind, instead of it just being there for effect.
Maaike15274 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic, enticing, lovely! I really, really liked this sequel to [The magicians and mrs. Quent]. New adventures and discoveries await Ivy as she moves with mr. Quent and her sisters to the house in Durrow street. This house as a lot of secrets yet to reveil. And Mr. Quent is rewarded with a new title for his service to the crown. Yet this puts him and Ivy in new, more public and politic function with new dangers...Mr. Rafferdy takes his fathers place in the House of Magnates reluctantly. There he meets new people, and learns of new dangers and new secrets. (sorry, don't want to spoiler)This part I learned more about Eldyn Garritt, and I was irritated by him (before I found him rather naieve in quite an irritating manner), however he improves himself even if he is still quite capable of being naieve, a little selfcentered and he fools himself enormously. Although it does not read fast (at least not for me, since English is not my first language) I did not find at all hard. All the characters developed a little more and there are some interesting new characters. You also learn a little more about Altania and Ivarel. The end suggests a new story so I hope a new book will soon be published.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He wo up and went to the stream.
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Deborah Coon More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy Victorian novels --- this is a must read! Add in a dash of sci-fi to the mix and you're good to go. Can't wait for the next one.
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