Blog Tour/Book Review: The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola

the story keeper blog tour poster

I’m delighted to be co-hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola alongside my tour buddy, Clair at Always Need More BooksThe Story Keeper was published in paperback by Tinder Press on 10th January 2019 and you can read my review below.

Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour.


the story keeper coverAbout the Book

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the word-of-mouth folk tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857, the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and the crofters are suspicious and hostile, claiming they no longer know their stories.

Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters tell her that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl has disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the spirits of the unforgiven dead.

Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but then she is reminded of her own mother, a Skye woman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. It seems there is a link to be explored, and Audrey may uncover just what her family have been hiding from her all these years.

Format: Paperback (pp.)    Publisher: Tinder Press
Published: 10th January 2019        Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Story Keeper on Goodreads


My Review

The Story Keeper has all the ingredients for an atmospheric read: a mysterious house (Lanerly Hall) partly shut up and furnished with cabinets full of ghoulish looking objects and curios; a family in which there are secrets and things that can’t be spoken of; a sinister factor/land agent; the puzzle of why Audrey’s employer, Miss Buchanan, is confined to the house; and villagers fearful that evil stalks their communities.  It’s all set against the backdrop of the wind and waves that pound the shores of the island.   ‘A dank mist had settled over the island and the sea was steel-grey, angry.’

The remote and windswept location creates an atmosphere where stories of fairies, ‘the little people’ and changelings seem credible.  The privation experienced by the islanders, the legacy of clearances and the decline of crafting as a viable livelihood, mean that not only are the stories Audrey is tasked with collecting coming to an end but a way of life as well.

I really enjoyed the sense of mystery and claustrophobia the author creates as Audrey’s fears seem in danger of being realised.  ‘No matter how much she tried to remain rational, she could feel things closing in, growing nearer.  The day after tomorrow, Samhein would begin, the festival that marked the beginning of the dark months.  It was the luminal time, the people said, the time when the boundary between this world and the other-world could more easily be crossed.’  Spooky, eh?

Who can Audrey trust when those in positions of authority refuse to believe her, perhaps for their own reasons?  I found myself compelled to keep reading in order to find out the resolution of the mystery of the missing girls and will happily admit the author sent me in the wrong direction when it came to identifying the culprit.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Tinder Press, and NetGalley.

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In three words: Atmospheric, haunting, compelling

Try something similar… Secrets of the Sea House by Elisabeth Gifford (read my review here)


anna picture credit lou abercrombie.About the Author

Anna Mazzola is a writer of historical crime fiction. Her debut novel, The Unseeing, won an Edgar Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers Association Debut Crown in the UK. The Times called it ‘sizzling’. The Mirror described it as ‘a brilliant debut.’ Her second novel, a dark fairy tale about a collector of folklore and missing girls on the Isle of Skye, was published by Headline in July.

Anna studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before accidentally becoming a criminal justice solicitor. She lives in Camberwell, London, with two small children, two cats and one husband. She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch on Goodreads or on social media. (Photo credit: Lou Abercrombie)

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Blog Tour/Book Review: Sadie’s Wars (Currency Girls #3) by Rosemary Noble

Sadies Wars

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for Sadie’s Wars by Rosemary Noble, alongside my tour buddies, Jo at Cup of Toast and Kathleen at CelticLady’s Reviews.  Thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

Sadie’s Wars is the third book in Rosemary’s ‘Currency Girls’ series, a historical saga spanning continents and generations about a Australian pioneer family.  You can read my review below.


Sadie's WarsAbout the Book

Sadie is brought up amongst the vineyards of the Yarra Valley whilst her work-obsessed father reaps riches from the boom years before the Great War.  With post-war depression looming, Sadie’s only option is to flee from her disastrous marriage, seeking refuge in Cleethorpes, a small seaside town in northern England.

Years later, when her sons are in RAF Bomber Command, she receives a letter from her long-lost brother which forces her to confront the past and her part in her family’s downfall.

Can old wounds be healed? Will she find new love? Will this second war destroy everyone she saved?

Format: Paperback, ebook (310 pp.)    Publisher:
Published: 29th September 2018   Genre: Historical Fiction

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com  ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Sadie’s Wars (Currency Girls #3) on Goodreads


My Review

Sadie’s Wars is the third book in the author’s ‘Currency Girls’ series, the previous books being Search for the Light and The Digger’s Daughter, (neither of which I have read).

Reading Sadie’s Wars as a standalone, it did take me a little time to work out who all the different characters were in what is a large extended family with lots of siblings, in-laws, nephews and  nieces.  Added to this, the story shifts frequently between two different timelines and locations: Grimsby and Cleethorpes in World War Two, and various places in Australia in the first few decades of the twentieth century, including the years of World War One .  However, stick with it, and you’ll find, as I did, that eventually everything falls into place.

The scenes set in Australia allow the author to conjure up a picture of Sadie’s happy if itinerant childhood due to her father’s career, of her teenage years and disastrous first marriage.  I loved the evocative descriptions of the landscape which skilfully captured the harsh beauty of the Australian outback.  These sections brought home as well the vital part played by Australian troops (and other parts of the then British Empire) in World War One and the terrible losses they incurred.

The sections set in Cleethorpes during World War Two, where Sadie and her sons have made their home for reasons which will become clear as the book progresses, have equally vivid descriptions of the impact of war on the civilian population of Britain.  They also emphasize the vital role that cups of tea played in the war effort!

The ‘wars’ in the book’s title refer both to the actual wars that Sadie lives through.   Her concern for her sons when sending them off to serve in the RAF is all the more powerful knowing she is fully aware of the dangers they face, having experienced the impact of World War One.   However, Sadie is also fighting her own internal ‘wars’ as it were.  She feels guilt over the poor choices she’s made in the past leaving her reluctant to relinquish control over her life again as a consequence. Past presentiments of imminent danger to those close to her fuel her fears even more.  Sadie’s desire for independence, such as that enjoyed by her brothers, comes into conflict with a world in which seemingly everything is controlled by men.

A chance meeting provides the opportunity for Sadie’s life to take a more positive course and offer the prospect of a happier future.  But can Sadie find the courage to listen to her heart rather than be held back by fears of repeating mistakes of the past?  I really felt for Sadie as she struggles with the dilemmas that face her.  Knowing she made the wrong choice once (even if that was through the malign actions of others) and believing that in some way she is still being punished for it, she fears that grasping happiness for herself will necessarily demand a greater sacrifice than she’s prepared to make.

I enjoyed Sadie’s Wars and, having finished the book, was fascinated to learn from the Author’s Note how much was based on real events.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author and Rachel’s Random Resources.

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In three words: Engaging, emotional, dramatic

Try something similar…A Ration Book Christmas by Jean Fullerton (read my review here)


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout the Author

Rosemary writes: ‘I worked as a librarian, mostly with young people, so books have been my life, ever since I first stepped into a library and found a magical treasure trove. My other love is social history. Retirement gave me the opportunity to travel to Australia where I discovered stories that deserved to be written. I found a new career as an author which gives me immense pleasure. I write for myself but am delighted that others enjoy my books.’

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