Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit 2014 – OCTOBER READ – Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Published October 30, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“Matthew had taken the scrawny little hand awkwardly in his; then and there he decided what to do. He could not tell this child with the glowing eyes that there had been a mistake. . . .”

When eleven-year-old Anne Shirley arrives at Green Gables with nothing but a carpetbag and an overactive imagination, she knows that she has found her home. But first she must convince the Cuthberts to let her stay, even though she isn’t the boy they’d hoped for. The loquacious Anne quickly finds her way into their hearts, as she has with generations of readers, and her charming, ingenious adventures in Avonlea, filled with colourful characters and tender escapades, linger forever in our memories.

What did I think?:

I was very excited when Chrissi and I picked Anne of Green Gables as part of our Kid-Lit 2014 as it is one of my favourite children’s books ever and I remember reading it over and over again, delighted by the story and utterly charmed by Anne Shirley. It’s certainly a book that you can re-read quite easily as an adult and has definitely stood the test of time for me personally. The story begins with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a brother and sister team and owners of a farm called Green Gables. Time is marching on and Marilla begins to worry that her brother needs a little help around the farm so she has the brilliant idea of requesting a boy from the local orphanage that they can give a home to and that can assist Matthew as and when required. Matthew goes off to the station in the buggy to meet the new arrival (closely watched by Rachel Lynde, who has to know everyone’s business). Imagine his shock when waiting for him on the platform is a small freckled girl with red hair. The hair becomes important, believe me. Matthew is a quiet, shy sort of man especially around the female of the species and does not have the heart to leave Anne (spelled with an e) Shirley in the station so takes her home to Marilla, who is better at this decision-making thing. By the time they reach Green Gables, Matthew has become slightly enamoured with the bold, chattering little girl and decides to himself he wouldn’t mind having her around. Not so with Marilla. She is dumb-struck at the sight of Anne’s white, hopeful little face who is carting her “worldly goods” in a small bag with her. When Anne realises that they were expecting a boy she is devastated/in the “depths of despair,” but strangely enough, her funny little speeches, empassioned and straight from the heart strike something in Marilla who finds herself quite amused by the orphan and they decide to keep her.

The rest of the book follows Anne story as she grows up at Green Gables. She gets herself into a lot of interesting situations and learns a lot along the way. Some of my favourites and stand-out moments were when Gilbert Blythe teases her about her hair colour so she proceeds to crack her slate over his head, then later on she attempts to dye her hair but it goes horribly wrong, finally the scene where she gets her “bosom friend” and “kindred spirit,” Diana, hideously drunk on what she thinks was raspberry cordial makes me laugh every time I read it. It is also lovely to see her relationship with Matthew and Marilla grow and develop, especially in times of great sadness. Although Anne does grow and learn as a person through the book, she still remains the sweet and endearing character that she has always been and that is why I’m proud to say that she was one of my first literary heroines (and probably still is!).

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Short Stories Challenge – The Pool by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Published October 29, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Pool all about?:

Staying at their grandparents during the holidays are two children, Deborah and Roger, who love to play in the garden of their relatives house. Deborah however is attracted by a pool in the nearby woods which appears to have mystical properties.

What did I think?:

I’m really enjoying this collection of short stories by Daphne du Maurier so far but I have to admit I was slightly disappointed by The Pool. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is still fantastic and the author certainly knows how to weave a tale, but after The Blue Lenses and Ganymede this was somewhat of a let down. It involves two children who are staying at their grandparents house, a ritual they seem to repeat faithfully every summer. They adore the garden and have spent many happy hours playing there but there seems to be a different reason for Deborah to get excited over. While trying to occupy her younger brother i.e. get him out of the way, she enters the woods to find a pool which is incredibly special to her. She goes through certain rituals by the pool, like touching her forehead to the ground three times and offering it a “sacrifice,” of her favourite lucky school pencil. If the waters ripple at a certain point and place, it is a sign that the pool has accepted her offering. One night, as she prepares to “give herself” to the pool she sees a woman at a turnstile and phantoms in the distance. The ritual becomes intensely frightening and the lure of the pool too much for Deborah and she rushes back to the house, shaken but completely intrigued by what may be on the other side.

It is at this point that we learn that Deborah lost her mother when Roger was born (possibly in childbirth?) and the way she treats her poor brother sometimes you could almost believe that she resents him for being alive when her mother is not. Deborah is also fond of silence and disappearing into her own imaginings so perhaps a playful boy that is fond of chatter isn’t really her cup of tea. Deborah also questions the meaning of life, Jesus, Buddha etc a lot and doesn’t really have an outlet to talk about the thoughts accumulating in her head. She is certain that she will find some of the answers she is looking for from the woman at the turnstile so she sets off determinedly the following evening to complete the ritual. I won’t spoil the ending, but the answers that Deborah so desperately craves are perhaps not the ones she has been looking for. Deborah is growing up and becoming a woman, and with that inevitably comes the loss of childhood and possibly even the loss of imagination.

As I mentioned previously, this story is not my favourite in the collection so far and was a bit longer than what I expected, which isn’t a bad thing. The writing is stunning and any fans of Daphne du Maurier will enjoy it as well as those new to her work. I was a bit unprepared for the ending and when it came I was fairly content as I think I know what the author was trying to achieve. I didn’t really warm to Deborah as a character, but did feel sorry for her on a couple of occasions, wondering if resentment had built up inside her from the loss of her mother. She was a girl looking for something amazing but ended up learning things she didn’t need to know. Hey, that’s life.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Season To Taste Or How To Eat Your Husband – Natalie Young

Published October 28, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Always let the meat rest under foil for at least ten minutes before carving… Meet Lizzie Prain. Ordinary housewife. Fifty-something. Lives in a cottage in the woods, with her dog Rita. Likes cooking, avoids the neighbours. Runs a little business making cakes. No one has seen Lizzie’s husband, Jacob, for a few days. That’s because last Monday, on impulse, Lizzie caved in the back of his head with a spade. And if she’s going to embark on the new life she feels she deserves after thirty years in Jacob’s shadow, she needs to dispose of his body. Her method appeals to all her practical instincts, though it’s not for the faint-hearted. Will Lizzie have the strength to follow it through? Dark, funny and achingly human, Season to Taste is a deliciously subversive treat. In the shape of Lizzie Prain, Natalie Young has created one of the most remarkable heroines in recent fiction.

What did I think?:

A big thank you to the lovely people at Book Bridgr and Tinder Press/Headline for allowing me to read this very dark and unique novel. The title kind of says it all so no spoilers there! In short, it is about a fifty-something woman called Lizzie Prain whom after thirty years of marriage decides to take a shovel to her husband’s head. The only problem now is, what to do with the body? Ah, yes the obvious solution – eat it. In this way, the power in the relationship which often lay on her husband’s side could be taken back and she could regain control over her life. Her husband’s sudden disappearance may pose certain questions, but if she pretends that he has run off with another woman, everything should be perfect. What Lizzie doesn’t realise is how difficult eating her husband will be so she writes a list of notes to help her along the way. For example ideas for various dishes using the human meat, reminders of how awful her marriage had become, positive reinforcements and advice to herself should the police come knocking. For example:

81. Your husband’s will now be in your mouth and oesophagus, your gullet, stomach and intestines.

82. If you have managed to go to the loo yet, he will have also come out already as waste. 

83. Look at the poo.

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea about how grim this novel actually is. And this is one of the tamer quotes! As Lizzie continues to eat her husband piece by piece, organ by organ (yes, even the eyeball gets a “look” in!) she focuses on her end-goal. This is to escape to Scotland and start a new life where no one knows her or that she ever had a husband at all. However a problem arises in the form of Tom who works at the local garden centre and almost instantly befriends Lizzie. His grandfather is a bit suspicious about where Lizzie’s husband has disappeared to and on top of that her new friend Tom actually wants to come into her house and sit in the kitchen. With bags of a dismembered body hanging around? That could be a tricky one.The question is, will Lizzie succeed in her mission and escape to Scotland? Or will somebody find out what has happened and bring her to justice?

I found this novel absolutely fascinating and at the same time, incredibly disgusting. I think it has to be the darkest thing I have ever read and although I’m not a squeamish type at all I found myself wincing and feeling nauseated at particular moments. The “hand,” dinner was probably the worst for me but there is certainly grimness to be found on almost each page. Did I enjoy it? For the most part, I have to say I did. It felt like a very unique read and I did enjoy the numbered lists that Lizzie made for herself. As to a motive for killing her husband, there isn’t really one I don’t think – perhaps a temporary moment of insanity would explain things a bit better. Although, perhaps the author isn’t trying to give Lizzie a motive, maybe she suggests that we never know what we may be capable of? This is a dark and very gory read so definitely NOT for those of a nervous or delicate disposition! Personally, it kept me intrigued right through to the end and I’m quite excited to see what this author does next.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Banned Books #4 – Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library

Published October 27, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Alice could be anyone – she could be someone you know, or someone you love – and Alice is in trouble …

Being fifteen is hard, but Alice seems fine. She babysits the neighbour’s kids. She is doing well at school. Someday she’d even like to get married and raise a family of her own. Then she is invited to a party, a special party where the drinks are spiked with LSD and Alice is never the same again.

This tragic and extraordinary true-life story shows the devastating effect that drug-abuse can have. But the big difference between Alice and a lot of other kids on drugs is that Alice kept a diary . . .

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Welcome to a new feature on my blog! It’s Banned Books that I’m collaborating with Chrissi Reads and Luna’s Little Library on.

Every month for the rest of 2014 ChrissiReads, Luna’s Little Library and myself will be reading one Banned/Challenged Book a month. We’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book.

If you’d like to join in our discussion (and please feel free!) below is a list of what we’ll be reading:

November

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Chosen by: Luna

December

Lush by Natasha Friend

Chosen by: Beth

But back to this month……

Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks (previously Anonymous)

First published: 1971
Most recently in the Top Ten of Frequently Challenged Books in 2003 & 2001 (source)
Chosen by: ChrissiReads
Reasons: drugs (2003) & offensive language, sexually explicit (2001)

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?
BETH: When I first began this read, I was quite surprised to learn that it was first published in 1971 as I found it read more contemporary than that – in other words, published about ten years ago or so. For the seventies, I think it was probably highly controversial when it came out even with the amount of “free love,” that was floating around at the time. I didn’t really find the language particularly offensive or find that it was sexually explicit but I am probably judging it by modern standards!
CHRISSI: I think it was probably very controversial at the time, so of course, it didn’t fit in. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that this book stood out, but I can understand why it was banned. The subject matter obviously struck a chord with many people.
LUNA: I honestly don’t know, 1971 is too long ago. My opinion of the 70s is mostly from That 70s Show that isn’t going to be an accurate reflection of the time is it? The book was published; it’s supposed to be warning regarding the dangers of drugs so it would have to be make an impact to work.

How about now?
BETH: This book deals with some very serious issues, namely teenage drug abuse. For this reason, I do understand why it is banned/challenged, especially in schools. I know that the book is meant to be quite gritty and portray a teenager coming out the other side of addiction but for me personally, I don’t think that message got across very well. At times I even felt like it glorified drug use in a way, or made it seem quite a lot of fun. Obviously that is not really a good message to send out to impressionable young people.
CHRISSI: I don’t really like that this book is marketed as non fiction. I actually thought it was a true story until I looked it further. It’s very frustrating that it’s marketed as non fiction when it’s not. Hmmmm. Non fiction or fiction aside, I don’t think it’s appropriate for use in schools. It raises very dark issues (as well as the drug use) which I don’t think are appropriate for some impressionable teenagers. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every teenager is impressionable (they’re certainly not!), but some may take the messages this book sends in the wrong way.
LUNA: It’ll come as a surprise but I have a problem with this book. It’s nothing to do with the content (the banned reasons: drugs, offensive language and sexually explicit) and everything to do with the marketing. Go Ask Alice is a work of fiction. Yet it was originally promoted as nonfiction, it’s still sold as “by Anonymous” and the copy I have has “This is Alice’s True Story” on the cover plus the blurb on the back, the foreword and the Psychologist’s Comment at the back – everything is still packaged to make out this is nonfiction.It got my back up. It is fiction and it should be presented as such.

What did you think of the book?
BETH: I have to admit, I was really, really disappointed. It’s only a short read (162 pages in my copy) and is made up of journal entries but for me it felt like a slog to get through the whole time. The main character annoyed me to the point where I wanted to throw the book across the other side of the room! And worse of all, I just didn’t believe it. Then we come to the ending… and for a second I almost upgraded my thoughts to a “three star” review until I read a bit more about the book in general. And I’m absolutely disgusted. As the girls have said, this is marketed as a work of non-fiction and if you buy into that the ending may change the way you feel about the entire book. As I later found out, it is a work of FICTION and I don’t know what else to say except that I feel really cheated and quite cross.
CHRISSI: It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be if I’m honest. I wanted to feel connected to the main character and feel sorry for her. But I didn’t. I just found her annoying- which isn’t what I wanted to feel from a teenage drug addict.
LUNA: The narrator is not likeable; I didn’t have any connection with her and found her rather whiny. Given that the point of this book if to warn of ‘what can happen’ I would have expected more empathy with the character. (Btw it’s never established what her name is.) I know the book is over 40 years old but Go Ask Alice really feels it. A lot of the time I don’t notice age with books when I’m lost in a story but I don’t think the text has dated well. Maybe it’s partly to blame for the disconnect I felt to the character/story.
I’ll admit that my opinion of Go Ask Alice was negatively influenced by the marketing before I started the book but I was hoping the content would win me round – it never really did.

Would WE recommend it?
BETH: I think it’s important that teenagers get to read the real stories behind drug addiction (get it? REAL!) but I wouldn’t recommend this one. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
CHRISSI: Possibly, but I think there are more powerful books around the same subject out there.
LUNA: If it wasn’t still labelled as a “true story” maybe but I think there are better books out there.

Beth’s personal star rating (out of 5):

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Go Ask Alice definitely provided an interesting discussion for us all! Have you read it? What did you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please join us the last Monday of November when we will be discussing Luna’s banned book choice – Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden.

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Short Stories Challenge – Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Published October 26, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s Looking Up Vagina all about?:

Looking Up Vagina is the story of a teenage boy who has just begun puberty and how he copes with the inevitable teenage angst that accompanies it.

What did I think?:

I went into this story incredibly intrigued and I admit with quite a few chuckles as I tried to guess what the story would be involve. Did Looking Up Vagina refer to the use of a dictionary? Or did the author go down a slightly cruder line gynaecologically speaking? Ahem.Thankfully, I was closer to the subject matter with my dictionary idea. The story is about a thirteen year old boy who has just started to grow pubic hair, a strange moment for any teenager but he also happens to be the first boy in his class at school to do so. From the very first paragraph the reader understands that this monumental moment in his life will only serve to make his time at school even more miserable than it already is and give his bullies yet another reason for tormenting him:

“He’d vaguely assumed that this might be something the other boys would be envious of. Perhaps even awestruck by. Something which would make them see him in a new light. But it turned out to be just one more thing they could use in their campaign of vilification against him.”

Poor guy. Our narrator dreams about the pubic hairs changing his life for the better. No tripping him up in the hallways and perhaps someone might even talk to him between lessons, on the bus etc. This is unfortunately not the case, and when his pubic hairs are noticed he is taunted and emotionally abused. One nasty incident in particular leaves our main character unable to attend school for a few days where he mostly lies in bed, looking up the word vagina in the dictionary. Like any thirteen year old boy, he is curious about sex but his self-esteem is at rock bottom and in a few years he fully expects name calling as he is confident he will probably still be a virgin.

Jon McGregor has a wonderful talent in making the reader really feel and empathise with certain characters. For me, our teenager in this short story was definitely a character I was rooting for, felt terrible for and hoped for a happy ending. Jon McGregor is no fairy tale writer however and he presents this story with a dash of gritty realism which I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. He also used a very interesting tool which made this short story even more beautiful than it already is. That is to say he used words scattered here and there as if he had opened a dictionary on the letter “V,” and then challenged himself to use as many relevant words as possible using that letter within the story. So we have words like vanguard, verdant, verge, vigorously, verify, vicarious and vicinity amongst many others which all made sense in the context with which it was presented. Even the last word is “vindicated,” and thinking about it further, it was such a clever and quirky way to tell a story. I’m still wondering how hard it would have been to choose appropriate words beginning with “V,” and will probably muse on it for a few days to come. This is definitely a fascinating story and one I’d love to hear your opinions on if you’ve read it. Looking forward to the next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

The Private Blog of Joe Cowley – Ben Davis

Published October 25, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The brilliantly funny and cringe-worthy secret blog of 14-year-old Joe Cowley (wannabe comic artist and self-confessed repeller of girls):

Sunday 1st January
So here’s the thing. I’ve decided to start writing a blog. A private one. The idea is that it’ll help me sort my life out, because quite frankly, it can’t get much worse . . .
· I gained the nickname Puke Skywalker after vomiting over Louise Bentley on the waltzer.
· I am subjected to daily wedgies by my arch-enemy Gav James.
· My so-called best mates are trying to get me killed in a bid to win £250 on You’ve Been Framed.

This cannot go on. I have to do something, or I’ll end up like Mad Morris down the park who thinks he’s Jesus. By the end of next term, I’m going to be a completely different person.

At least, that’s the theory…

What did I think?:

Many thanks to the children’s publishers at Oxford University Press for giving me the opportunity to read this quirky and amusing young adult novel by Ben Davis. After reading it, I immediately thought that it was the Adrian Mole for the new generation and one of my favourite things about the book was the cute comic strip illustrations and photographic images that made Joe’s blog entries even more interesting and fun to read. Joe Cowley is your typical fourteen year old teenager. He loves Star Trek, is both curious and terrified of the opposite sex – actually describing himself as a “repeller” after an unfortunate incident with a girl on a waltzer ride. He has dreams of becoming a comic strip artist, is harassed by the school bully Gav James on a daily basis and is still trying to deal with his parents recent divorce. Living with his mother, it is then not particularly easy when his mum moves in her new boyfriend and another familiar face that is going to be hell for him to deal with. As Joe tells the reader of his “catalogue of misery,” he decides on a more positive outlook. He is going to start a private blog to help him deal with his feelings (NOT a diary, as diaries are for girls in his words), he is going to get Gav back for everything he has put him through and finally he is going to kiss a girl. A real, live one.

As the blog entries continue, it looks like Joe might get one of his wishes as he manages to attract his ultimate girl crush Lisa Hall, who unfortunately is also the ex-girlfriend of the bully Gav James. You can almost sense the drama that is going to unfold! Lisa however, does not seem to be as invested in the relationship as poor Joe is. In fact, she only seems to want to be with Joe when Gav is around…hmm… slightly suspicious? Then Joe meets another girl, Natalie, another Star Trek devotee, but she tends to dress a bit differently and doesn’t really fit within the “popular” crowd. Joe is quite torn as although Natalie seems to genuinely like him and they share the same interests, being with Lisa actually makes him popular, something which is quite new and exciting to him. He is even at risk of losing his two loyal best friends, Harry and Ad as he attempts to change himself into the person Lisa expects him to be.

The rest of the book throws up some very funny, heart-warming and intensely cringe-worthy incidents that many teenagers will be able to identify with. My favourite parts included Operation Scooby-Doo which was absolutely hilarious and the drama caused by the computerised baby Adwina which Joe has to look after in a school project. This book is seriously funny and the illustrations are a fantastic addition but I think this book also holds some strong messages about family, friendship and growing up that many teenagers would relate to and appreciate. As a character, I think Joe learns a lot about life in general, and I’d love there to be a sequel just to see what he gets up to next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Vanishing Witch – Karen Maitland

Published October 23, 2014 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland, author of the hugely popular Company of Liars will thrill fans of CJ Sansom and Kate Mosse with its chilling recreation of the Peasants’ Revolt. The reign of Richard II is troubled, the poor are about to become poorer still and landowners are lining their pockets. It’s a case of every man for himself, whatever his status or wealth. But in a world where nothing can be taken at face value, who can you trust? The dour wool merchant? His impulsive son? The stepdaughter with the hypnotic eyes? Or the raven-haired widow clutching her necklace of bloodstones? And when people start dying unnatural deaths and the peasants decide it’s time to fight back, it’s all too easy to spy witchcraft at every turn.

What did I think?:

This review comes with many thanks to the lovely people at Book Bridgr and Headline Press for allowing me to read the latest novel by one of my favourite authors, Karen Maitland. As fans of the author will know, she is a wonder at combining the turbulent times of the Middle Ages with a little bit of the supernatural, a recipe that always results in a gritty historical mystery that never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat. This latest offering is set in the 14th century in the city of Lincoln against the backdrop of the Peasants’ Revolt. Richard II is on the throne and poverty is rife across England so what does our King do to assist those in need? Well, listen to his trusted advisor John of Gaunt of course and introduce a new tax to be paid for every person over fifteen years of age in a household. Furthermore, the way in which the King’s Commissioners went about checking to see whether someone was over fifteen years was so lewd and crass that it is no surprise the peasants revolted!

Our foray into the medieval involves a host of wonderful and wacky characters, laid out for us at the beginning of the book by the author under the heading Cast Of Characters (obviously). This always fills me with slight trepidation as there seem to be so many to contend with, but like her other novels, Maitland tends to focus in depth on a select few. In The Vanishing Witch we learn about two families on either side of the poverty scale, the first a boatman called Gunter, happily married and living with his family just outside the city. He ekes a living by transporting cargo from place to place with the help of his son. The new tax really hits his family hard, being in quite dire straits to begin with, and their quest for survival is prominent throughout the novel.

The head of the family on the opposite side of the scale is a wealthy wool merchant called Robert who is married to Edith and they have two sons, Jan the elder, confident and brash, who will take over the family business in time and Adam, scholarly and quiet. Robert’s troubles first begin when he is approached for advice from recently widowed Caitlin. Poor Robert practically bursts with pride at the attention Caitlin shows him and as Edith becomes seriously unwell, torn between his loyalties to his wife and gullible to her womanly wiles, he allows Caitlin to slowly worm her way into his life, eventually becoming his wife when Edith dies. She brings along two children of her own, Leonia and Edward, the former casting her own spell over Robert’s young and impressionable son, Adam. Can Caitlin be trusted? What is her motive for integrating herself with Robert’s family? Is there something a bit spookier i.e. witchcraft going on?

I have so much praise for this novel I hardly know where to start! I loved the way that the author transported us to medieval England with so much authenticity that I could almost smell the streets, hear the noises and taste the swill. Prior to every chapter Maitland gives the reader a glimpse back into history with anti-witchcraft charms and spells that come directly from medieval writings and grimoires (medieval spell books). Here’s a taster of one of many that stood out to me:

“If a family member goes on a long journey, a bottle of their urine or their knife is hung on the wall. If the urine remains clear, or the blade bright, they are well. If the urine becomes cloudy or the blade tarnished, they are ill or in danger. If the urine dries or the knife falls or breaks, they are dead.”

I enjoyed every character in this book for different reasons. Some were so damn unlikeable, like Edward, that I had to keep reading to see whether they would get their come-uppance. Others, like Caitlin’s daughter Leonia, or the strange man dressed as a friar who begins to follow Robert, I was so intrigued by that I had to know their story. Friend or foe? You get the picture, I just had to know. The author certainly does not make it an easy journey for the reader and I was continually confused (in a good way!) over who to trust as page by page, a different secret emerges. Medieval England comes to life all over again in the safe hands and imagination of a fantastic author who not only knows what she’s talking about but makes it so exciting too!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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