I was fortunate enough to have been sent an ARC copy of this book by the publisher.
A gothic mystery like no other I’ve ever read with twists and turns like the river Thames itself and the setting for this entrancing read.
Set in the middle of the 1800’s this atmospheric, evocative read kept me spellbound from start to finish. A mysterious injured man appears one stormy night in an old inn called The Swan on the banks of the Thames holding a young half-drowned girl who is not thought at first to be alive. Local midwife Rita attends to her and manages to revive the girl. No-one knows where this little four year old girl is from. A few families though have missing girls and think to lay claim to her but who does she really belong too? The Vaughan family and the Armstrong family are the two main contenders but there are serious doubts between them all.
While this mystery is the core of the story, there are several others because each family has a story to tell, some with secrets and lies and we are introduced to quite a cast of characters within the book. With much folklore that includes the ghostly figure of Quietly the ferryman who is rumoured to appear to rescue those in peril on the river. There is a palpable sense of other worldliness and unease as the story of the girl is spread far and wide and slowly the story unravels with whispers, half truths, gossip and rumour.
Rita the nurse/midwife remains at the centre of the story and continues to be confounded and intrigued by the effects of a body immersed in cold water and how it can shut down until properly revived. Something that’s better understood today.
This is quite a large book and it’s possible that the amount of characters may initially put some readers off but I found if I kept notes in the early chapters it worked for me.
I loved the whole concept of this cleverly written book and the author conveyed the sense of atmosphere perfectly
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