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The Story Keeper
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The Story Keeper (Paperback)

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From the author of THE UNSEEING comes a sizzling, period novel of folk tales, disappearances and injustice set on the Isle of Skye, sure to appeal to readers of Hannah Kent's BURIAL RITES or Beth Underdown's THE WITCH FINDER'S SISTER.

Longlisted for the 2018 Highland Book Prize

'A wonderful combination of a thrilling mystery and a perfectly depicted period piece' Sunday Mirror

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.

Fiction & PoetryCrime & ThrillersFiction & PoetryHistorical FictionMyth & legend told as fiction Publisher: Headline Publishing Group Publication Date: 08/01/2019 ISBN-13: 9781472234803  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Anna Mazzola's first novel, THE UNSEEING, was published to critical acclaim in 2016. She is a criminal justice solicitor and lives in South East London with her husband and two children.

More books by Anna Mazzola

Customer Reviews

This is a book with so many layers. A historical novel full of the atmosphere and truth of another age, yet offering a subtle commentary on the treatment of girls, of women. A mystery novel, but with far more than the solving of a death. The tale of a young woman in search of a better way than marriage or keeping silent about wrongdoing. A story of a group of people losing everything they value. The front of the book states “First the land was taken. Then the stories. Then the girls”. This is a novel of fear, of layers of confusion. A painful book, but a tribute to the human spirit, even when that is expressed in unconventional ways. This is a book of landscape, of a powerful understanding of life on the edge, of communities of fear. The power of the writing should be self evident; this book boarders on the gothic horror which has effectively terrified so many over generations. I was taken aback by much of this book, and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to read a copy for review on a blog tour. The book opens as Audrey, a young woman, is sailing to the Isle of Skye. It is September 1857, and already the weather, and the birds, are signalling the coming of winter. Audrey is running away, moving from her father’s home in London and the life of a relatively well off young woman, already tired of her stepmother’s attempts to marry her to a suitable man. As Audrey helps an obviously unwell girl, it begins to emerge that she cares deeply for such poor girls, quietly indignant at their treatment and the treatment they receive at the hands of more powerful men. She is going to seek employment and independence, having followed an advertisement for a folklorist, someone to assist in the collecting and ordering of tales of the people, the folk tales that have emerged and developed over generations. To some on the island these are nothing more than complex superstitions, growing as a result of the unique weather and natural life of the islands. As Audrey encounters the mysterious Miss Buchanan and the mysterious house to which she is confined, she realises that she must explore the island, meet its people on a level in which they feel confident to talk with her, and deal with those who want to rationalise the use of the land. She is shown and told of the suffering which the effective clearances are causing; displaced and desperate, they either scratch for survival or are exiled to countries from which they will never return. The chance discovery of a body means that the stakes are raised to an unbearable level, as the stories are not just to be collected, but feared, as the weather, birds and land all seems to wrench at ancient and more recent secrets. It is difficult to capture the successful way in which Mazzola creates the sense of a world, both threatening and disappearing as Audrey strives to understand what is happening around her. The offstage threat of London, her own earliest memories, and the almost supernatural fear which pervades this book makes it a truly compelling read. An absorbing tale, I found this a gripping story which was subtly brutal, yet never needlessly violent. This is a book which works on so many levels, and I thoroughly recommend it as a fascinating novel.

- 20/01/2019
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Firstly I have to say just how much I was taken with the beautiful cover of "The Story Keeper", it gave me chills just thinking what mystery and intrigue could lie beneath it and couldn't wait to start reading. "The Story Keeper" is billed as a 'sizzling, period novel of folk tales, disappearances and injustice set on the Isle of Skye' and it was exactly that. I was amazed at how the atmospheric setting and creepy, intriguing start to the story drew me in so fast and from then on in the pages turned themselves to reveal such a beautiful tale, woven with creativity and imagination. With sinister undertones and at times quite scary scenarios involving the local folklore stories, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from start to finish. It was truly spell binding and unlike any thriller I've ever read before and certainly a one I could easily read again and again and never tire of. I love historical books set in Scotland and knowing the locations mentioned in the story made me feel so at home. The author has done a fantastic job in describing the many different crofters lives and their plight after the Highland Clearances and their constant poverty. It's obvious a lot of research has been carried out for this story and the author has turned this into a truly engaging and well crafted story. There were some quite unsuspecting twists to the conclusion which rapturously held my attention and which were a perfect end to the intriguing story and very fitting. I haven't read Anna Mazzola's previous book "The Unseeing" but I am now very keen to read it and without doubt would certainly read more in the future by this new author to me too. All in all, one fabulously written and imaginative tale that I highly recommend to historical thriller readers young and old, if you love something different then you must read this, you won't be disappointed! 5 stars

- 11/07/2018
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