Book Review(ARC): Once Upon A River | Storytelling at its finest

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A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale
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It was solstice night, the longest night of the year… And as the borders between night and day stretch to their thinnest, so too do the borders between worlds… Unexpected things can happen. Did the solstice have anything to do with the strange events at the swan? You will have to judge for yourself.”

Review: This was my first time reading a Diane Setterfield novel and let me tell you my thoughts about this book.

This was such a beautifully written novel that I was hesitant to write a blog post about this….wondering if I’ll be able to describe the sheer beauty of storytelling in this book.

The story is set along the banks of a fictional river Thames and follows a diverse set of characters :

  • The innkeeper of The Swan(and family): Margot, Joe, Jonathan
  • Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn
  • Henry Daunt(the photographer)
  • little girl
  • Mrs. Lily White
  • Rita (the nurse)
  • Mr. Armstrong

The story begins in an inn called The Swan where the main entertainment is storytelling. However, one night, a different story is seen in the making. A little girl is carried in the arms of an unknown man and is mistaken for a doll for she is so pale and still. The man’s identity is soon unearthed and he is Henry Daunt, a photographer, and speculation rise if he is the little girl’s father and if he is, then why would he take the girl on a perilous journey that would lead her to her death.

Fret not reader, for the little “dead” girl is not dead after all. For the nurse who took take of Henry Daunt’s wounds and checked the little girl’s pulse to be sure, it is a conundrum! How can she be alive ?!

This is not the only shocking thing in the story. There still remains the question of the girl’s identity and we have some contenders:

  1. Maybe she is The Vaughns’ little girl who was kidnapped one day and was never seen
  2. Mr. Armstrong’s granddaughter whom he had never seen before
  3. Mrs. Lily White’s sister, although this claim is quite questionable

Everyone wants this little girl who cannot speak a word, everyone is captivated by this little girl. What’s her story?

Once Upon A River starts off as a slow burn and around 100-something page or so, we come to the crux of the story. This is not historical fiction but a historical mystery with a heavy dose of magical realism. 

Overall, this is the book to curl up with and let loose in the world where stories have the power to shape people’s lives. The characters are so real, and so are their secrets and traumas which comes back to haunt them in the end.

*If you are a fan of The Thirteenth Tale by the author, then you should definitely pick this up. If aren’t then,I highly recommend you add Diane Setterfield’s books to your TBR!


“And now, dear reader, the story is over. It is time for you to cross the bridge once more and return to the world you came from. This river, which is and is not the Thames, must continue flowing without you. You have haunted here long enough, and besides, you surely have rivers of your own to attend to?”

Thanks to the publisher for an advanced review copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars

Author: Connect with Author Diane Setterfield on Goodreads.

  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • Publication Date: 17 January 2019
  • Hardcover(ARC): 432 Pages

Book Review ​: The Winters by Lisa Gabriele

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Synopsis:  An addictively suspenseful new novel set in the glamorous world of the New York Hamptons, about secrets that refuse to remain buried and consequences that cannot be escaped.

After a whirlwind romance, a young woman returns to the opulent, secluded mansion of her new fiancé Max Winter – a wealthy senator and recent widower – and a life of luxury she’s never known. But all is not as it appears at the Asherley estate. The house is steeped in the memory of Max’s beautiful first wife Rebekah, who haunts the young woman’s imagination and feeds her uncertainties, while his very alive teenage daughter Dani makes her life a living hell. 

As the soon-to-be second Mrs. Winter grows more in love with Max, and more afraid of Dani, she is drawn deeper into the family’s dark secrets – the kind of secrets that could kill her, too.

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Delia Owens has written a masterpiece, ​called “Where the Crawdads Sing”

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"Never underrate the heart, Capable of deeds The mind cannot conceive. The heart dictates as well as feels. How else can you explain The path I have taken, That you have taken The long way through this pass?" – Delia Owens, #wherethecrawdadssing ° ° #minireview #littlebrownbookgroup #netgalley #advancedreaderscopy Where the Crawdads Sing is a beautifully written book, and I want to read it a million times. It is a story of survival, hope, love, loss, loneliness, prejudice and resilience. The story is told in two different timelines – the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1950s, we see Kya growing up in the marsh, and being abandoned by her family. She lives alone, shunned by most of the townspeople who should have helped her. In the 1960s, we see two kids discover the dead body of a young man known as Chase Andrews. What happened to Chase? Is Kya and Chase's death connected? The setting is incredible, and the writing is vivid, poetic, and atmospheric. I loved Kya's character, her relationship with the marsh. I rooted for her till the end and what an end it was! I would HIGHLY recommend this book, and Delia Owens has just become my auto-buy author. I even voted for it in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2018 after reading it. Thanks to @netgalley for an eARC of this spectacular book! #QOTD : Have you ever judged someone by their appearance? AOTD : I used to do that and I am ashamed,to say the least. #bookblogger #beautifulbooks #ilovereading #vimage #vimageoftheday #vimageapp #bookphotography #bookstoread #reesewitherspoonbookclub #booksofig #bookstagramfeature #unitedbookstagram #igreads #readersofinstagram #fiction #booksandshares #bookrecommendations #awkwardedit #bookishlove #bookstagramindia #bookquotes #goodreadschoiceawards #bookaesthetic #bookwormforlife

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Synopsis: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Celeste Ng, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

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Book Review:​ The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

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Synopsis: Hercule Poirot returns home after an agreeable luncheon to find an angry woman waiting to berate him outside his front door. Her name is Sylvia Rule, and she demands to know why Poirot has accused her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. She is furious to be so accused and deeply shocked. Poirot is equally shocked, because he too has never heard of any Barnabas Pandy, and he certainly did not send the letter in question. He cannot convince Sylvia Rule of his innocence, however, and she marches away in a rage.

Shaken, Poirot goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man called John McCrodden who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy…

Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

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My Sister, ​The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | Book Review

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Synopsis: “Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.

Continue reading “My Sister, ​The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite | Book Review”