Acquired Book By: Over the Summer of  I was approached about this Winter blog tour celebrating the new release by Ms Setterfield. The interesting bit is that this is an author I am familiar in name only as I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading one of her novels – as I will explain in a moment. When I read the premise and read a bit about the author’s style of narrative, it felt like the kind of story I would love to be reading. It is hard to imagine I knew about this book originally in August and had to wait til December to start talking about it! I was going to mention it sooner but decided to wait for the blog tour instead.
I received a complimentary copy of “Once Upon A River” direct from the publisher Atria Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
The reason reading ‘Once Upon A River’ appealled to me:
What can I say? I’m memorised by this premise!! I know of the author – I picked up a copy of Bellman & Black last year but haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading it. She’s been on my #mustread list for a few years, as I’ve heard about her writing style and the eloquent way she pulls words together and illuminates her stories through the book bloggers I visit who have read her stories.
It is a rather curious plot – not just for the reasons behind why the identity of the girl remains hidden from both the characters in the story as much as the reader but the circumstances themselves.
This story has stirred my imagination! It reminds me of another story I read earlier in the year “House on the Forgotten Coast” by Ruth Coe Chambers – as when I read this one “Once Upon A River” stays with you long after you conclude the story – due to the themes and insights it explores, I felt, ooh I love stories like those! And, that brings back fond memories of ‘House on the Forgotten Coast’!!
As you can see, I went into reading ‘Once Upon A River’ as a new reader into Setterfield’s style of narrative whilst I had the joy of knowing ‘of her stories’ even if I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of joy ‘reading her stories’. It felt like the kind of story you wait to read and discover and then, feel wonderfully blessed for having been selected to read it ahead of publication!
I do enjoy haunting tales – where there is an element of the fantastical & the historical breaching into the background of the narrative itself. Where you are never quite certain as you move through its world – what is real, what is imagined & what is wondrously otherworldly?
From the instant #1 New York Times bestselling author of the “eerie and fascinating” ( USA TODAY) The Thirteenth Tale comes a richly imagined, powerful new novel about how we explain the world to ourselves, ourselves to others, and the meaning of our lives in a universe that remains impenetrably mysterious.
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.
Once Upon a River is a glorious tapestry of a book that combines folklore and science, magic and myth. Suspenseful, romantic, and richly atmospheric, the beginning of this novel will sweep you away on a powerful current of storytelling, transporting you through worlds both real and imagined, to the triumphant conclusion whose depths will continue to give up their treasures long after the last page is turned.
Places to find the book:
Published by Atria Books
on 4th December, 2018
Format: Paperback ARC
Length: 16 hours and 27 minutes (unabridged)
Converse via: #OnceUponARiver
Available Formats: Hardcover, Trade Paperback, Audiobook & Ebook
I, admit, I did listen to the audiobook sampler ahead of reading #OnceUponARiver – however, I discontinued listening to it, as instead of being an extract at the beginning of the story, I found myself on page eight (of the ARC) – thereby, I felt a bit in the dark about the placement of the extract and elected to read this at the beginning, as it was a rather ghoulish place to begin the sampler,…
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: