Month: August 2019

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

There is something about the Ruth Ware style that really appeals to me. I like the atmosphere she creates, the way her characters interact and I think she nails the quiet mystery perfectly. As a boarding school girl myself, I was intrigued from the beginning of this one. The different personalities of the old friends, the way that they met, the ongoing relationship they have, tied by a terrible trauma which happened during their time at school. 

When they are summoned back to the scene of the traumatic event, the friends drop everything in their lives to be there, terrifically worried that their secret might have been discovered. The villagers are suspicious of them, sinister things start to happen and an atmosphere of tension and pent up grievances is palpable. 

This is what Ruth Ware does so well, takes simple scenarios and makes them full of tension and has you on the edge of your reading chair, gripped! I stayed up late at night to finish this book and it was satisfying and as there is a new book from this author out in the world now, I’m excited to read that one too!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

An immersive novel, once you are in you’ll struggle to think of anything else but the river and the mysteries it throws up. It seems like a historical novel but throws some magic and some mystery into the mix. Our base is The Swan, a tavern on the banks of the river. One stormy night a man arrives, he is near death and with him is a child who appears to be already dead. She is an unusual looking child of about 4 years old. The local nurse is summoned and she feels, along with everyone else that the child is beyond her help. But the next day the child is alive, everyone who has anything to do with the child feels compelled to take her, to provide a home for her and to make her their own. Then there is the man, he recovers, and leaves.

Through these events we come to know the locals in the hamlets around Oxford. The childless couple, the Parson and his maid, a photographer, the family missing their eldest son who may be a terrible rogue. Then there is my favourite the nurse who treated the child at the beginning, I loved her. 

If you are a Sarah Perry fan, if you like a bit of mystical with your historical and if you love a good mystery, this book is going to be right up your alley. The tone is so perfectly pitched and the pace is perfect, it meanders just like the river, it throws up all manner of mysterious items, just like the river and it takes you on a wonderful journey, just like the river. 

The Mapmakers’ Race by Eirlys Hunter

Endearing and full of life, this is an old fashioned rollicking adventure of the sort that I read when I was a kid. The story of a family of explorers and mapmakers who are competing in a race with an an enormous reward at the end of it. The Santander family are renowned for their skills but enroute to the race Papa has gone missing and Mother has been left at the station. The children, their parrot and an enterprising young man they persuade to join them are on the hunt for the best route for the railway to run to the town of New Coalhaven on the coast. It is an arduous route with rivers to cross, mountain ranges to trek over. There are bees and bears and drama galore. 

What a glorious cover this is!

Their adventure is full of danger and disasters and yet the children persist. When their spirits are low and they are in danger of starvation or hypothermia they persist. What a team they are! And ultimately this is how they survive, by pulling together, harnessing the best of each of their skills and by being kind and loving to each other. 

This book is old fashioned and wholesome, the production of the book is lovely, the pages feel great in your hands. It’s a lovely story made more gorgeous by the wonderful illustrations. I found myself going forward and back to the maps as I was reading it. This book would be a lovely gift for a child, and I will be recommending it widely. I was intrigued by the setting, I was surprised that this author wrote a book set in America, I had expected this book to have a New Zealand flavour, as it is it would work for a child anywhere in the world. I would expect that people who love Katherine Rundell’s books would enjoy this one.