Thursday 30 March 2017

Gone Without A Trace by Mary Torjussen

Published by Headline on March 23, 2017

Chapter One

I was singing as I walked up the path to my house that day. Actually singing. I feel sick at the thought of that now.

I’d been on a training course in Oxford, leaving Liverpool as the sun rose at six, returning at sunset. I work as a senior manager for a large firm of accountants, and when I got to the reception of our head office and signed myself in, I scanned the list of attendees from other branches and recognised several names. Though they weren’t people I’d met, I’d read about them in our company’s newsletters and knew they were high-flyers, and for the first time I realised that must have been what the company thought of me too.

My skin had prickled with excitement at the thought, but I’d tried not to let my feelings show, relaxing my face into that calm mask I’d practised so assiduously over the years. When I went into the conference room, I saw the others standing around chatting like old friends. They looked polished and professional, as though they were used to this sort of event, and I was glad I’d spent a fortune on my clothes and hair and nails. One of the other women had the same Hobbs suit as mine, though luckily in a different colour; another gave a covetous look at the chocolate Mulberry bag my boyfriend, Matt, had bought me for Christmas. I took a deep breath; I looked like one of them. I smiled at the nearest person, asked which branch she worked for, and that was it, I was part of the group and soon my nerves were forgotten.

In the afternoon, we were set a task to complete in a team, and at the end I was chosen to present our findings to the whole group. I was terrified, and spent the break time in a corner feverishly memorising my speech while the others sat around chatting, but it seemed to go well. Once I’d made the presentation I could relax and was able to answer everyone’s questions in full, anticipating follow‑up questions too. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Alex Hughes, one of our partners, nodding as I spoke, and at one point he made a note about something I said. When everyone was packing up to leave, he took me to one side.

‘Hannah, I have to say you performed very well there,’ he said. ‘We’ve been looking at your work for a while now and have been absolutely delighted with your progress.’

‘Thank you.’

Just then Oliver Sutton, the firm’s managing partner, came to join us. ‘Well done, Hannah. You were excellent today. When Colin Jamison leaves in September, I think you’ll be on track for promotion to director. Wouldn’t that make you the youngest in your branch?’

I don’t know what I replied. I was so surprised to hear him say that; it was like one of my dreams had come to life. Of course I knew exactly when each director had been promoted; I’d pored over their bios on the company’s website. I’m thirty-two, and I knew the youngest had been appointed at thirty- three. That had helped give a certain edge to my work lately.

The organiser of the event came up to speak to them then, and they smiled and shook hands with me before turning toher. I walked as calmly as I could to the cloakrooms and locked myself into a cubicle, where I nearly screamed with pleasure. This was what I’d been working towards for years, ever since leaving university and starting with the firm as an assistant. I’d never worked as hard as I had this last year or two, and now it looked as though it was going to pay off.

When I came out of the cubicle, I saw in the mirror that my face was pink, as though I’d been out in the sun all day. I took out my make‑up bag and tried to repair the damage, but my cheeks still glowed with pride. Everything was going to be all right. I reached into my bag for my phone to send a message to Matt but then the human resources director came into the cloakroom and smiled at me, so I smiled back and nodded at her and took out my hairbrush instead to smooth my hair. I didn’t want her to think I was excited about anything, to suspect that maybe I thought I didn’t deserve promotion.

There was also no way I wanted to hang around while she was in the loo, so I went back to the conference room to say goodbye to the others. I decided I’d tell Matt face to face; I couldn’t wait to see his excitement. He knew how much I wanted this. Of course it was too early to celebrate – I hadn’t actually been promoted yet, after all – but I was sure that Oliver Sutton wouldn’t have said that lightly. Each time I thought of his words, I felt a swell of pride.

And then in the car before I set off, I thought of my dad and how delighted he would be. I knew he’d hear about it from my boss, George, as they played golf together, but I wanted to be the first to tell him. I sent him a text:

Dad, I’m at a training day and the managing partner says they’re considering promoting me to director in a few months! Xx

Within seconds I got a reply:

That’s my girl! Well done!

I flushed with pleasure. My father has his own business and he’s always said that the one thing he wants is for me to be successful. As far as my career was concerned, he was my biggest supporter, though it could be stressful if he thought I wasn’t promoted quickly enough. Another text beeped through:

I’ll put a treat in your account – have a celebration!

I winced. That wasn’t the point of telling him. I typed back quickly:

It’s OK, Dad, no need to do that. Just wanted to tell you how I got on. Tell Mum, will you? Xx

Another message beeped:

Nonsense! Money’s always good.

Yes, money’s nice, but a phone call would be better, I thought, then I shook some sense into myself and started the car.

It was a two-hundred-mile drive home and I did it without a break. I live on the Wirral peninsula in the north-west of England, just across the River Mersey from Liverpool. Despite the evening traffic, it was an easy drive, with motorways all the way. The journey passed in a flash. I was so excited I couldn’t stop myself wriggling on my seat as I practised what I would tell Matt and how I would say it. I wanted to stay calm and to just mention it casually when he asked me how my day had gone, but I knew I’d burst out with it as soon as I saw him.

When I reached Ellesmere Port, about fifteen miles from home, I saw the Sainsbury’s sign shining brightly in the distance, and at the last minute I indicated to take the exit. This was a night for champagne. In the shop, I picked up a bottle of Mo√ęt, then hesitated and picked up another. One isn’t enough when you have news like that, and besides, it was Friday: no work the next day.

Back on the motorway, I pictured Matt’s reaction as I told him the news. It wasn’t as though I’d have to exaggerate. Just repeating what Alex Hughes and Oliver Sutton had said would be enough. Matt worked as an architect and had done well for himself; he’d understand how important it was for my career. And financially, too, I’d be level with him if I was promoted. I thought of the salary scale for directors and felt a shiver of excitement – maybe I’d even be earning more than him!

I stroked my soft leather bag. ‘There’ll be more of you soon, sweetheart,’ I said. ‘You’ll have to learn to share.’

It wasn’t just the money, though. I’d take a pay cut to have that kind of status.

I opened the windows and let the warm breeze run through my hair. The sun was setting and the sky ahead was filled with brilliant red and gold streaks. My iPod was on shuffle, and I sang song after song at the top of my lungs. When Elbow played ‘One Day Like This’, I pressed repeat again and again until I reached home. By the time I arrived, I was almost in a state of fever, and my throat was throbbing and sore.

The street lights on my road popped on to celebrate my arrival. My heart pounded with the excitement of the day and the fervour of the music. The champagne bottles clinked in their bag and I pulled them out so that I could present Matt with them in a ta‑da! kind of moment.

I parked on the driveway and jumped out. The house was in darkness. I looked at my watch. It was 7.20 p.m. Matt had told me last night that he’d be late, but I’d thought he’d be back by now. Still. There’d be time to put the bottles in the freezer and get them really chilled. I put them back in the bag, picked up my handbag and opened the front door. I reached inside for the hall light, clicked it on and stopped still. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

Was someone in our house?

Monday 27 March 2017

The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

Published by Atria Books on March 9, 2017


Cleanliness, punctuality, order and method, are essentials in the character of a good housekeeper . . . Like “Caesar’s wife” she should be “above suspicion” and her honesty and sobriety unquestionable; for there are many temptations to which she is exposed.
—Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861

My bus arrived in Richmond far too early for the interview, and I walked up and down the high street peering into department store windows until it was time to catch the next one towards the river. Apart from two American tourists wearing hiking boots, the bus was empty. It made its way through a deserted winding road with woods on one side and cows and horses in their winter blankets grazing in a field on the other. It was hard to imagine that less than a mile away there was a busy town with cinemas and shops and supermarkets.

“Different air they breathe here, love,” said the bus driver as I got off. The American tourists bounded past me, eager to explore Richmond Park. “You’ve got nearly twenty-five hundred acres of park on one side and the Thames River on the other. Film stars, rock stars—they love it,” he went on. “No change from ten, fifteen million quid for any of these houses.”

“I’m going for a job interview,” I replied. “Wish me luck.”

He gave a thumbs-up sign and drove away. It had rained earlier and there was a smell of damp earth and wet grass. A flock of feral green parakeets flew overhead, a neon streak in a pale wintry sky. The air was filled with their dinning, a strident, joyous noise drowning out the more reserved birdsong from native robins and wrens.

I’d checked the route the night before, but I made a mistake and got off the bus one stop too early. Then the walk took longer than I’d expected, and the houses were so huge and far apart from each other that I had to jog the last bit, my skirt riding up my legs, my tights making that brushing fibrous noise, and my toes cramping, unaccustomed to high heels. I almost missed it because I was looking for a street number and all the houses had names instead. It was only when I looked closer that I saw the numbers painted in brown below the letter boxes. I walked along until I found the one I was looking for, barely visible on a high brick wall. Above it was a bronze plate engraved with a name. Wycombe Lodge. I stood for a minute to regain my composure and wipe the mud off my shoes.

Along the wall was a pair of wrought-iron gates, each bar as thick as my arm. The bottom half of each gate was covered with a solid sheet of black metal, so I couldn’t see anything of the house from the street. I walked along to a wooden door with an intercom next to it. I swallowed hard and pressed the buzzer. The night before, I’d wondered whether to announce myself with my usual “Hi” or go for a more mature “Hello.” I thought the second option would be safer, but I didn’t get the chance to say anything at all. There was no voice at the other end, just a buzz as the door opened and then a click as someone hung up the intercom.

I pushed through to a glorious square house built of wine-colored brick. It was either Georgian or Queen Anne. I could never tell the difference. A climbing rose, still bearing some of last autumn’s hips, reached all the way to the roof, softening what might have been an otherwise austere exterior. Sunlight bounced off the bank of tall windows on the first floor, almost blinding me. When my vision cleared, I saw I was standing in a graveled forecourt edged by giant topiary balls. An empty stone pond with a fountain stood in the middle, in front of a portico with white stucco columns. The door was open. I glimpsed a flagstone floor and a flash of red from a rug.

I walked towards the door, my shoes with their flimsy leather soles crunching and slipping over the gravel. It was uneven, almost bare in some places. In others, weeds had sprung up and fell over themselves at odd angles. The bottom of the pond was littered with browned leaves. Two pots containing scrawny bay trees stood on either side of the portico. Tucked out of sight behind them were plastic crates of empty wine bottles and dirty dinner plates. A clump of old telephone books, their pages all curled up, lay heaped in a corner.

“Come in, come in,” called an unseen woman’s voice. I walked into the empty hall, my heels echoing on the checkered flagstones before being muffled by a worn patterned rug. A curved staircase led up to the higher floors. Along the hall were three open doors, and at the end a pair of closed doors. I had no idea where to go and paused next to a narrow table with a rectangular gilt mirror leaning over it. Piles of letters were propped against a vase of fading white roses, the water green and scummy. Blotched petals fell onto a pair of muddy trainers.

“We’re in here,” said the voice, and I followed its sound into the first door opposite the staircase. Emma stood against the fireplace. Embers smoldered in the grate. She was taller than I’d expected, and she looked younger than she had in the photos, with a small heart-shaped face, the skin tight and gleaming across the bones. Her head was cocked to one side like a curious bird’s. There was a crosshatch of fine lines around her eyes. At first I thought they were green, but then the sun broke through into the room and showed them to be an unusual clear blue with a dark ring around the iris. She wore Converse trainers and what looked like a thermal vest over a long, trailing skirt, the hem torn in places where she must have tripped over it.

From THE HOUSEKEEPER by Suellen Dainty. Copyright © 2017 by Suellen Dainty. Reprinted by permission of Washington Square Press, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Published by Transworld on March 23, 2017

Where The Wild Cherries Grow is a book that reads as beautifully as it looks. And you know, honestly, sometimes those beautifully written books have no substance. No depth to the story, no mystery to each character, nothing to absorb yourself into other than beautiful words. Where The Wild Cherries Grow could have been one of those books, but it definitely wasn’t. There was more than enough substance between the pages with a multi-layered story full of mystery and hidden truths, a life that has fallen off the radar but is delivered to us as the reader in a delicious manner. Laura Madeleine’s writing is gorgeous, but the story was even better.

The narrative transports us seamlessly back and forth in time between 1919 and 1969. In 1919, we meet Emeline Vane, whose life has been shattered by the war. We see her flee from the life she knows, a life of sadness and despair. Fifty years later, we meet young solicitor Bill Perch. Bill is absolutely thrilled to finally have been given a job of some interest to do. Here we discover the enchanting Hallerton House, a place that is ready to go on the market, so long as Bill can find enough evidence to prove that Emeline is dead. But there is much more to Emeline’s life than that.

It didn't take me long to be drawn into this book and the mystery of Emeline Vane. I was fascinated by her character and her disappearance and found her chapters really engaging as I longed to find out what had happened to her. Could she really have been dead all those years? The further into reading this book I was, the more intrigued I became and I found myself lost inside the book, hours of my day disappeared in a flash as I escaped into Where the Wild Cherries Grow.

Whilst Perch is lead to believe that Emeline is dead, the story doesn’t seem as black and white as that to him. One night he stays up reading through her diary and he is utterly absorbed and determined to find out more about this woman and what really happened to her. I loved how he had that sleepless night reading Emeline’s diary as his actions echoed my own. I, too, was hooked on Emeline’s story and knew there was much more to her life than what was first thought.

Another thing I absolutely loved about this book was the author’s writing style. Laura Madeleine’s writing is truly beautiful with every moment brought to life by the description and evocative detail she uses. Everything is so vividly told and the story came to life right in front of me as I envision every little detail. This is my first book read by this author but it definitely won't be my last. I loved the beauty of her storytelling and how she built up the layers of mystery and intrigue to a completely gripping level which had me eagerly reading on to discover more. Early on we read extracts that Emeline has written in her diary which piqued my interest, but in the second part of this book where we get to meet Emeline properly, this is the moment I became really engrossed in the book and I spent the entire morning in bed reading until the book was finished.

Bill Perch was another character who I liked instantly and grew to like even more as the story progressed. Though this book is about Emeline, Bill’s life became important to me too. I loved seeing him explore Hallerton House. This place was described so atmospherically. From the crows to the strange noises and the shadows, the dust and the damp, everything about the place was captivating. In fact, everything about this book was captivating. There is also a big foodie element to the narrative that had me salivating with every page. Do not read this book on an empty stomach! But definitely do pick up a copy of Where The Wild Cherries Grow – you won’t regret it.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

The Jungle by Pooja Puri

Published by Ink Road on March 16, 2017

If, like me, you judge books by their covers, The Jungle will be a book you won't be able to resist picking up. It wasn't the only reason I wanted to read this book though. The tagline on the front cover was convincing enough along with the blurb which I loved the sound of. The Jungle is Ink Road’s first book and I found it to be a very thought provoking one which had a lasting impression on me.

Mico has left his family behind as he navigates the Jungle, a refugee camp based in Calais. The camp is full of tension and colourful characters who each have their own story to tell. Some of them are plotting their own escape to a better place, but the odds are difficult to overcome. One day Mico meets the inimitable Leila and they too dream of making an escape.

Mico and Leila were both interesting characters. Mico is the protagonist and he is a very up and down character who is capable of snapping in a flash. I found that it was difficult to know what Mico to expect with every chapter but this unpredictability kept me reading on the edge of my seat. Reading this book through Mico’s perspective really helped deploy the sense of anxiety and desperation that is felt in the Jungle. It was not a happy place to be. Leila was a headstrong character who appeared for the most part a confident girl who always has something to say. But there are moments where we see a different side to her too. That was one thing that stood out about this book for me. The characters were almost controlled by this refugee camp they lived in so nothing was black and white. For me there were no characters to love or hate because each one changed throughout, and in a way I felt each one could betray one another given the opportunity.

The Calais refugee camp was built up by the author in a very impactful way, one that allowed me to feel the strain of the Jungle along with Mico, Leila, Hassan, Syed and everyone else we meet. The Jungle was described atmospherically and I felt like I could picture the place really well. With sharp emotions and a sense of unease and tension that could be cut with a knife, there were feelings of hunger, of desperation and fleeting feelings of optimism which really drew me into this short book which the author delivered with power.

There were many different characters in this book, some we only meet briefly and others that come in to the story more as it goes on. With the huge desperation that surrounded The Jungle, it made me as the reader unsure of who to trust. There were choices and actions that the characters made which I couldn’t agree with, and there were also characters that seemed to have little good in them, but I was never quite sure about any of the characters. At first life in the Jungle felt a bit like a dog eat dog world where the most important thing on anyone's mind was how to survive. But there are friendships that surface which surprised and engaged me. Some were more heartening than others but I found it fascinating watching them develop.

I will say that as much as I was looking forward to reading The Jungle, the book itself was very different to what I had been imagining. This isn't a bad thing but it did take a bit of adjusting to once I began the book. The book is only around 200 pages long and whilst I did find the story moving, I thought there was room for more character development, for more of everything really. More desperation, more hope, more action. I found this book absolutely gripping but I felt like the refugee camp theme could have been pushed even further.

Despite this, I really would recommend people read The Jungle. I found it to be a very thought-provoking and insightful read which somehow managed to feel more timely given the state of the world today. Every chapter had me engrossed and the tension, which was huge at the beginning, kept on increasing further and further, leaving me eager to see how the ending of this book would turn out.

Saturday 18 March 2017

Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone

Published by Accent Press on March 16, 2017

I loved the fresh concept to Puzzle Girl, Rachael Featherstone’s debut novel. Though a story involving a woman, unlucky in love, who wants nothing more but to be part of the perfect couple whilst at the same time battling with work related issues is nothing against the norm in a contemporary romance novel, Puzzle Girl surprised me with its originality. Full of humour, this book had me laughing and cringing and smiling at the antics inside all the way through it.

Cassy is still stewing over being dumped by her boyfriend Seph when she was at an important work dinner. When she injures her ankle on the back of a hangover, she finds herself stuck waiting at the doctors with not even a spare puzzle in the puzzle book left to complete. When Cassy creates her own crossword in the book, and next time she is at the doctors sees that someone has completed her puzzle, Cassy dubs the mystery man Puzzle-Man and becomes completely and utterly obsessed with the puzzle-book stranger.

Cassy is a very dramatic character and her obsession with Puzzle Man quickly gets out of control and this amused me no end. She becomes completely caught up in the mystery and even on the first day she discovers he has answered her puzzle she is daydreaming over who he could be and how they could fall in love. I loved Cassy’s vivid imagination and she is a pretty bubbly character who keeps the reader entertained with her mishaps and overreactions.

On top of looking for love, Cassy is also vying for a promotion at work and finds herself rivalling with her colleague Martin who she feels is getting all the opportunities and she becomes desperate to come out on top. Cassy does nothing by halves and she doesn’t stop at anything to try and get what she wants. She builds Martin up to be a monster and I would almost have belived her if she didn’t overreact to everything. I think Cassy could be seen as a frustrating character but for some reason I didn’t really see her that way. Maybe that was because she was so over-the-top even from the first few pages that I knew what to expect from her and I just found it entertaining instead. I would have loved to view the world from Cassy’s perspective for a day and see just how dramatically she views everything as I’m sure it would be an interesting experience! I’m not sure I could have taken more than a day of that though.

Puzzle Girl is light-hearted and lots of fun. One thing I liked a lot about this book was the characters. Other than Cassy, there were other characters I loved such as Cassy’s gay best friend Dan who made me laugh all the way through the book. He’s fun and supportive of Cassy and tells it like it is, which is something Cassy evidently needs in her life. Dan was probably my favourite character. The moment we first meet him is when I settled into the story and I enjoyed getting to know more about him further into the book. Despite being there for Cassy when she needs him, he has his own issues in life and I really wanted him to get his happy ever after too.

Rachael Featherstone’s debut is a winner in my eyes. It took me a fair few chapters to get hooked on the story but once I did I enjoyed every single bonkers moment and all the mad excuses and ideas Cassy came up with to get her own way. The pacing of the book had me eager to read one more chapter again and again until I’d read two thirds of the book in one go. As well as the engaging storytelling, the narrative includes a mixture of puzzles, lists, texts and emails which kept me absorbed in the book and its fast-paced plot. Puzzle Girl is a really fun and witty book, a romantic comedy with a fair bit of character development and an uplifting story that puts a smile on your face for all of its 300+ pages.

Thursday 16 March 2017

Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary

Published by Headline on March 9, 2017

Dear Reader
Why we love crime fiction so much
by Sarah Hilary

I’ve been asked to write about why so many of us love crime fiction. Lots of writers have been invited to tackle this subject including, perversely, several who loathe crime fiction. (Although it’s rather fun watching them wrestle their dictionaries to the ground in pursuit of credible reasons as to why so many smart people cannot aspire to their own contempt for the genre.)

Is it that we love to see justice done? That the detective is our secular priest?

Or is it that we delight in solving a puzzle?

Could it simply be that crime fiction respects the first rule of writing—to entertain?

Should I attempt to unpack the reasons why I became a reader of crime when I was ten? What it was about the stories of Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler and Patricia Highsmith that hooked my pre- and post-adolescent brain?

I’m not sure I should, in fact. Any more than I should attempt to analyse your reasons for reading my books or any other crime writer’s. Other than to say this—

Crime fiction, at its best, is uniquely two things. Firstly, it is subversive. It asks the questions no one else likes to ask. It has a social conscience which is active in the here and now, without recourse to nostalgia (a fetish of so much literary fiction) and unafraid of ambiguity.

The second way in which crime fiction is unique is all about you. More than any other genre, ours depends on the pact between writer and reader. Never will you hear a crime writer bemoan or belittle the role of the reader, or make lofty claims of how little we think about our readers when we write. We think about you all-the-time. About the questions you’ll ask of our characters and what makes you turn our pages, whether our red herrings are too red or our subtle clues too clunky. You’re in our heads the whole time. We want to scare you and thrill you—and outwit you, if we can (knowing how damn hard that will be). Writing, they say, is a lonely business. But thanks to you, dear crime reader, we are never alone.

So join me if you will (I won’t say if you dare) in Quieter Than Killing as I twist and turn, and try to keep you guessing right up until the final page. Then tweet me or drop a line to my website or Facebook page to tell me what you liked, what you didn’t, what I should be doing differently.

Until next time. Keep the faith.

Sarah Hilary

Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer's Book of the Month ("superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continued with TASTES LIKE FEAR and her fourth book, QUIETER THAN KILLING, is out now.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary

Wednesday 15 March 2017

The Song of the Stork by Stephan Collishaw

Published by Legend Press on March 1, 2017

The Song of the Stork is the complete package as far as beautiful books go. The cover is stunning and the title is really striking and the perfect fit for the story inside. Stephan Collishaw’s storytelling was built on atmosphere and tension, the unnerving feeling that something bad is going to happen without it being spelt out to us. The prose is dark and intense and my fear for what could happen to the characters I quickly cared for had me refusing to put the book down.

Set around World War II, in The Song of the Stork we meet Yael, a fifteen year old Jewish girl who is on the run, seeking shelter from the Germans. All alone, and with the belief that there is nobody left to wonder where or how she is, Yael’s life is now driven by the hope that her brother Josef is alive and how they could be reunited. In the meantime she gradually wins over recluse Aleksei into giving her shelter from the outside world.

Aleksei is mute but that didn’t stop me from completely falling for his character. I found him to be inspired and I loved his way of communicating with Yael and how protective he was. I think he showed great strength in character as he accepted his fear of the situation he was in – his life was under threat as he hid Yael in his home – but still did everything in his power to keep Yael safe. I loved everything about Aleksei’s character and felt for him and his frustration at not always being able to get through to Yael or express himself to her. Yael is a more outgoing character and keeps Aleksei on his toes, and the gradual love story that builds between them was wonderful to read.

I think the author represents the time period, and therefore the war, in this book really well. There is danger lurking on every page and every chapter where things seemed relatively safe for Yael and Aleksei made me feel more aware that bad things were coming. One thing I particularly loved about this book was the feeling of hope that runs through its core. As much as this is a survival story and you are aware that happy endings in this era often went unfounded, there was a level of hope about this book, within the characters and within the reader, and this gave a slightly different feel to the experience of reading a World War II story. I found I was always clinging onto hope, despite fearing for the characters’ lives, and this kept me glued to the pages to see how everything would turn out.

I really did take to this book but my one complaint is with the ending. It just didn’t feel right to me. I felt like someone had ripped the last couple of chapters out of my book… I never feel like I need every loose end to be tied up, I don’t really mind an open ending, but this one was way too open for my liking. To have been invested in something so much throughout the course of the book to find no closure whatsoever was a shame as I finished the book still dying for answers about something in particular.

Despite that, The Song of the Stork is a book that will long remain on my mind. I absolutely loved this book as it was truly beautiful and powerful. The language and tone made this harsh story incredibly readable. I loved the atmospheric detail from the snow to the storks. Everything was very expressive and it gave the book more impact. The Song of the Stork is a haunting yet compassionate story built with love and a level of hope that the future for the characters within the book is not as bleak as can be feared.

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