Sisters of the Lost Marsh - Lucy Strange
Lucy Strange's 'Ghost of Gosswater' was one of my favourite reads of last year, a Gothic, dark thrill of a tale, with storms, graveyards, evil family members out for blood, and a sinister, Lake District setting.
This is more of the same, and that is a high compliment. I was gripped from the first pages by this tale, set against a folk- tale style curse.
Following the fortunes (and misfortunes) of a family of six daughters caught up in their father's spiral into despair after the death of their mother, it tells the tale from the point of view of Willa, who sets out to find her sister Grace, who has run away after being promised in marriage to a nasty local landowner in exchange for a fine steed.
What follows is a tale full of eerie of menace and adventure mixed with supernatural myth as Willa rescues her sister from the clutches of The Marsh King, returning home to find out facts about her own family's witchy past as the story unfolds. (Apologies for the slightly obtuse description but I don't want to spoil some highlights of the book!)
What I loved once again was Lucy Strange's ability to create sinister dark atmosphere ( the misty marsh escape with faces looking up from the water below is a truly nightmare-inducing image), and the hot, busy, oppressive atmosphere of a visiting Fayre was also a sensory triumph of description!
Lucy also has the ability to create a range of completely engaging characters, both good and evil. In this, there are too many to go into in detail, but some highlights are the magnificent creation that is youngest daughter, Darcy:
The brilliant storytelling Grammy:
And the spirited lead character, Willa, who, as advised by Missus Moss, never loses her identity in terms of head or heart as she sets out on her quest.
I also loved the hidden library (a Narnia- style hidden world of books at the back of a wardrobe) and the relationship between Willa and Flint ( the horse that was given in exchange for Grace) as the plot develops.
I could keep going, but I think you get the gist...this is a wonderful, spooky treat of a tale, perfect for these Halloween and Autumn evenings, and being released this first week in November is perfect timing!
Get yourself a copy and find out more about the brilliant author via publisher Chicken House at their website www.chickenhousebooks.com/authors/lucy-strange/
You can also follow Lucy on Twitter as @thelucystrange, and Chicken House as @chickenhsebooks
Thanks to Olivia at Chicken House for sending me an advance copy of this book to review.
Review by Rich Simpson (@richreadalot on Twitter and Instagram) October 2021. All opinions my own.