Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield


On 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 and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child.

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

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

And who does the little girl belong to?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming 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:

Finally got to write a review for one of my favourite books of 2019. From the author of The Thirteenth Tale comes a story based straight from the River Thames. Once a Upon River (Black Swan) by Diane Setterfield is tale based of folklore and suspense.


The story is based along the river at Radcot, Oxfordshire and there stands The Swan an old in. Here the locals partake in the favourite drinks but that is not all as tales are told here but it is on one of those evenings that the tales abruptly ceased when the door burst open and a man stubbles in and he carrying a young girl. The man passes out and it becomes clear the girl he was carrying in his arms is deceased.

Present in the inn is a midwife who examines the body of the deceased girl and at this point something miraculous happens. The girl who was clearly dead wakes and soon after the man regains consciousness and tells how he found the body of the girl floating in the Thames. But who is the girl and where does she come from. The girl now back from the dead never speaks.

Soon the story of the dead girl coming back to life spreads across the local area. Hearing the news more than one family come forward to claim her as their own. Now the mystery of the girl really begins who is she and just who is her rightful parents?

I have left my review of One Upon a River to very late in the year as this is pretty much close to being my book of 2019. It has just about everything the characters really stand out here and Diane Setterfield is a master of storytelling and you become totally absorbed in the detail and storytelling. The idea of locals gathering to tell stories over a pint on a dark evening and you can almost see yourself sitting there listening. A story of the Thames as a river and the people who live and work the river and the stories it gives up. If you have not yet read Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield and looking for a book to read over the Christmas holidays, then this is one book I happily recommend.

544 Pages.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield was published by Black Swan and was published in Paperback on 29th August 2019 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.

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