#NetGalley #BookReview Once Upon a River A Novel by Diane Setterfield #HistoricalFiction #Mystery



Once Upon A River Cover

Once Upon a River

A Novel

by Diane Setterfield

Release date: December 4th, 2018


I received a complimentary ARC copy of Once Upon a River: A Novel by Diane Setterfield from NetGalley and Atria Books in order to read and give an honest review.

…masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story…

A fairytale for adults, ‚ÄúOnce Upon A River‚ÄĚ by Diane¬†Setterfield¬†captivates you with her unique brand of atmospheric, character-driven storytelling.¬† Hard to categorize, Once Upon a River is a mix of folklore and historical mystery in which¬†Setterfield¬†manages to craft several heart-wrenching¬†tales of death, deceit, and heartbreak.¬†

The story begins at¬†The Swan Inn on the Thames when an injured man stumbles in carrying what everyone believes is a dead child. When a nurse and healer, Rita, is examining the¬†child,¬†she finds that although she had no pulse¬†earlier,¬†she suddenly comes back to life. The child does not speak and no one knows who she is although there¬†are¬†missing children, long missing and presumed dead that have not¬†been seen¬†for years. Three families arrive at the swan with hopes that this child might be their¬†lost baby.¬†The¬†Vaughan’s, whose daughter Amelia, went missing two years¬†prior; Lily¬†White,¬†an¬†emotionally unstable¬†middle-aged¬†woman¬†who believes this girl is her sister Ann; and¬†lastly¬†Robert Armstrong, who¬†believes¬†she is his son Robin‚Äôs missing daughter, Alice Armstrong¬†whose mother is¬†rumored¬†to have drowned Alice before taking her own life.¬†¬†Stories are shared and the locals are¬†relentless in their pursuit of spreading their tale of the miracle child. There are so many well written, engaging characters who capture your interest if not your heart, Robert Armstrong being one but¬†Rita¬†is perhaps my¬†favourite¬†character. Strong, compassionate and intelligent Rita plays a detective of sorts determined to find out what happened to the little girl.¬†¬†

Although the story is slow to unfold her¬†well-crafted¬†characters keep the reader‚Äôs¬†curiosity¬†piqued. There is focus on the three families enduring heartbreak and elation as well as the dark secrets that come out along the way.¬† It also has¬†it‚Äôs¬†mysterious and deceptive characters that will keep you guessing exactly who this little girl is and who was responsible for her near death. We also hear about the mysterious ‚Äúferryman‚ÄĚ who moves up and down the Thames taking those whose time is up to the other side of the river, definitely playing into the folklore believed by the Inn‚Äôs patrons.¬†¬†

If you are interested in a masterfully written and engaging, character-driven story I would definitely recommend Once Upon A River!

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