Based around a fictional 19th century inn ‘The Swan’ along the River Thames, Once Upon A River is a folk-lore style tale which begins as a lot of tales do, on a dark night in the middle of winter. The Swan is a local village inn known locally as the place to go to exchange stories, one evening an injured stranger appears in the doorway carrying what appears to be the drowned body of a young girl. The local nurse, Rita, is called for and both individuals are examined, everyone is just coming to terms with what’s happened when the young girl starts breathing. The story continues to follow the village for the next year where several families lay claim to the mute four year old.
Having never heard of the author it was the cover which drew me to requesting a copy of this, had I been given just the description I probably wouldn’t have picked it up and its definitely a tick in the ‘read more outside my comfort zone’ box. The story-telling in this is excellent, the pacing is slow enough to really build suspense without feeling like its dragging out; its a mysterious tale that you can really get lost in and get caught up in your own theories.
When marking this as read I sat for a good few minutes trying to decide whether this was 3 or 4 stars; in the end I settled on 3 just because while I think this was very well written and its a great story I took a while to get involved with the story so I had to force myself to read the first third before I started to get any real enjoyment out of it but for people who enjoy mysterious tales this offers some well thought out characters with intriguing back stories and a plot that will leave you guessing right up to the end.
Once Upon A River is available now in hardback and kindle with the paperback edition due to follow in October 2019. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for early access to this in exchange for an honest review.