Monday, December 10, 2018

Julie's Review: Once Upon a River

Author: Diane Setterfield
Series: None
Publication Date:December 4, 2018
Publisher: Emily Bestler Books/Atria
Pages: 480
Obtained: publisher
Genre:  Folklore
Rating: 3.5/5
Bottom Line: Gorgeously written but in the end I don't think her books are for me
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Library
Summary:  On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed. Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless. Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

Review: Here's the thing, I read The Thirteenth Tale a couple years ago and I didn't love it like everyone else. The summary for Once Upon a River sounded so intriguing that I figured I'd give her another go.

This book transports you to towns along the Thames River in an Ancient time and it captures you. The river and its mysteries seep into your soul. You can clearly picture the inn and the people within. Along with the girl who appears dead but who is not. It follows her story through the eyes of the people who love her, who rescued her and her need her. 

While Ms. Setterfield knows how to tell a tale, it took too long for this reader to get to point where it really seemed to take off. I definitely appreciate setting the atmosphere, telling a tale and drawing the reader in but for this reader it didn't connect. I really wanted to love it because so many did. Maybe my initial reading of her debut should have told me we weren't going to connect but I do believe in 2nd chances.

If you love mysterious, gothic, folklore novels then this one is for you.



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