Welcome to my stop on the blog tour today! I’m thrilled to share my review of The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola!
The Story Keeper
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.
Audrey Hart arrives on the Isle of Skye one dark, mizzly day, a carpet bag and a thirst for stories her only possessions. With the memory of her beloved mother, whose passion for stories fed her own, and a past in London that is lonely and starved of warmth, she is desperate to pave a new path in life, a life she wants for her own. Audrey’s father refuses to hear of her love of folklore and fairy tales, demands she abandon it; her stepmother, Dorothea, admonishes her drive and tries to force her into the role of a debutant. But Audrey won’t be forced. Stories run in her blood. And she won’t be made to forget them.
Hired by the wealthy Miss Buchanan of Lanerly to collect and document the local folk and fairy tales, Audrey is curious about her new employer, whose reluctance to see or be seen by the locals prevents her leaving the mansion. Stories have pulsed through Skye’s history for decades. Audrey’s job is to capture them, before they fade out and the people who tell them fade from the shores. A simple enough task. Or so it seems at first. The crofters are uneasy, reluctant to share their stories with a sassanach, a stranger. There is another reason for their suspicion though. Wicked tales swathe the land, of girls being taken, spirits who transform into birds, of a darkness that curdles Skye’s history.
When a body washes up on the shore, Audrey learns of a spate of recent disappearances. Young girls gone missing. Did they pack up their possessions and leave their homes for new lives? Or were they taken? Snatched from the people they loved? Audrey must untangle the mystery but it will come at a risk. To her, to the crofters, to everything she thought and everything she knows.
Audrey is fleeing a lonely life in London, where the fading memories of her mother are not enough to sustain her. Her father won’t speak of her mother’s mysterious death, fielding Audrey’s questions with his coldness, felling every hope with his firm refusals. Audrey is tormented by her mother’s absence and all that she doesn’t know. The stories are her only solace and on Skye she hopes to find some answers about her death and the woman she was before.
A brooding unease and power undulates through the prose, striking a strong combination of intrigue and fascination in the reader. I adore folk and fairytales and devoured them as a youngster. They were an instant source of fascination for me. When I started reading The Story Keeper, I felt that old intrigue and fascination return. The author exquisitely draws the reader into Audrey’s world, atmosphere and mystery cradled in every word. Absolutely wonderful!
Mysterious. Atmospheric. Chilling.
To purchase a copy of the book, you can follow the links below:
About Anna Mazzola
(c) Lou Abercrombie
Anna is a writer who, due to some fault of her parents, is drawn to peculiar and dark historical subjects. Her novels have been described as literary crime fiction or historical crime. Anna’s influences include Sarah Waters, Daphne Du Maurier, Shirley Jackson and Margaret Atwood.
Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. Her second novel, The Story Keeper, follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857.
She studied English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before becoming a human rights and criminal justice solicitor. She now tries to combine law with writing and child wrangling, to varying degrees of success.
Anna loves to hear from readers, so do say hello on social media or via her website.
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Huge thanks to Anne Cater and Tinder Press for my review copy and blog tour invite!