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Tuesday, December 4, 2018

REVIEW: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield @DianeSetterfie1 @atriabooks @tlcbooktours

Once Upon A River
by Diane Setterfield

Thanks so much to Atria and Emily Bestler Books for this beautiful review copy!


Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Publish Date: December 4, 2018
480 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

My Review:

As I first started reading this, it reminded me of those intros in movies where you have the voice over and then it pans out into this magical story where you're lost for the next two hours, then back to the voice over that brings you out of your reverie and letting you know your visit is now over.  That's precisely what I got!

I had never read Setterfield before but when I posted about this book when I first received it, I was blasted with tons of messages about how amazingly good The Thirteen Tale is and how excited (and jealous) they were that I had a copy. Color me intrigued!!!

Here's what's absolutely beautiful about this book (besides the cover): the beautifully written descriptions and way Setterfield brings the characters to life in your mind.  The history between everyone you encounter, the mystery of the little girl found, Quietly and his passage on the River... Maud, the pig (boy do I think Maud should've received a little cover love but ahem...).  I haven't read a book like this in quite some time.  Because of the many characters that are introduced and the back and forth in time line to get the history of each one, there can be some confusion and it take a little bit to get it all sorted in your head.  However, these pieces fall together like puzzle pieces and then you become intrigued and really feel like you become a part of them.  My favorite? Mr. Armstrong (Sr.) - I could almost feel his calm cadence and what a GOOD man!

I had a couple of issues with the ending but I think that's more so because I'm so used to fast running, slap you in the face thrillers.  There are peaks and valleys where we are surprised by some of the characters (ahem.. Rita, wtf?) and I was pissed off at most of the men the majority of the time. This is beautiful literary fiction.  I'm remiss to think that for most of my thriller loving reader friends that this may be a bit on the slow side.  Yes, the tale is long.  Yes, there's a lot of groundwork to go through.  But if you're looking for a break into a somewhat magical historical fiction tale that tickles your brain, then I do suggest you pick this up.  If nothing else, it will look GORGEOUS on your shelves. 😉


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