By Anna Mazzola
Published by Tinder Press (26 July 2018)
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher
Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the folk and fairy tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857 and the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and a community riven by fear. The crofters are suspicious and hostile to a stranger, claiming they no longer know their fireside stories.
Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters reveal that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the restless dead: spirits who take the form of birds.
Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but as events accumulate she begins to wonder if something else is at work. Something which may be linked to the death of her own mother, many years before.
The Story Keeper was a joy to read - magical and mythical, creepy and addictive, intriguing and tense. Anna Mazzola has carefully woven together dark fairytales and folklore with crime and social history to create a brilliant gothic mystery.
Set in 1857, The Story Keeper felt authentic from the start, with vivid evocative scenes, an atmospheric, claustrophobic setting, beautifully written descriptive passages and realistic dialogue. Audrey Hart is a well-rounded protagonist - determined and focused, inquisitive and sensitive, with an unsettling past of her own. I felt like I was on the Isle of Skye in the mid-19th century, visiting those crofter cottages alongside her, learning about the locals, their culture and their beliefs and prejudices.
I loved everything about this book with its subtle (and not so subtle) twists and turns. A haunting sense of unease flowed through the pages, enchanting me and sending shivers down my spine. I held my breath at various moments and gasped at others. At times, I had no idea what to believe and who to trust.
Does magic exist? Through Anna's amazing writing, it certainly does. Buy the book and discover the magic for yourself!