The Story Keeper – Anna Mazzola
I was a massive fan of Anna Mazzola’s debut novel The Unseeing and now Anna returns with her second novel The Story Keeper (Tinder Press) Can it live up to her first novel? It my view it really does.
Set on The Isle of Sky in 1857 this is a story of missing girls and folklore. This is a time of huge change for the people of Sky at a time of poverty since the Highland Clearances and the locals are not keen on outsiders coming in and are viewed with suspicion.
Arriving on the on Sky from London is the mysterious Audrey Hart who is collecting stories of the people of the community. It is not long before their suspicions of Audrey are heightened when she discovers the body of a girl on the beach. When more bodies are discovered the locals turn to long held myths to account for the girl’s deaths.
Audrey grew up with myths and old folklore stories of Scotland as this was where her mother came from, but her mother died in circumstances that were never fully explained and this is why Audrey now feels more at home on Sky than in the oppressive home of her father and step mother.
Now girls are disappearing and Audrey is certain that they are being abducted. Trying to separate fact from the old stories from the Crofters. They believe that the deaths can be explained as victims of the unforgiven dead. Audrey has other ideas. Could it be that the answer to Audrey’s own questions about her mother’s death be linked?
The Story Keeper is a great multi-layered gothic tale and the characters are superbly drawn with Audrey leading the way, though from a troubled young life she is determined to get more out of life than what her father wishes for her.
The story starts slowly and gathers momentum against the backdrop of the Isle of Sky which in its self plays an integral part of the storyline.
The story is chilling yet beautifully told. This actually is a perfect autumn read as the dark nights draw in. Pour yourself a large glass and settle down With The Story Keeper.
Thank you to Jenni Leech (Headline) for the review copy of The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola.
The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola was published by Tinder Press and was published on 26th July 2018 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop.
The Unseeing – Anna Mazzola
The Last Word Review
As debut novels go this is something rather special. Anna Mazzola with The Unseeing has managed to create a story which is based on an actual true story. From the moment you pick this book up with its eerie eye in the centre of the cover you know it is going to be something outstanding and believe me The Unseeing captures the reader’s attention from the opening page.
The setting is London 1837 and Sarah Gale has been sentenced to hang for her involvement in the brutal murder of Hannah Brown. Edmund Fleetwood has been charged with investigating the case of the murder after Sarah files for mercy. But something is not right, Sarah is not forthcoming with any information that will help her case, why? If the investigation fail’s Sarah will surely hang. So why is she not helping Edmund?
There is something very unique about the way Anna Mazzola has written The Unseeing you get a real feel for the time and the place, at times dark and foreboding the tension is palpable as we the day for Sarah’s execution getting ever closer but still she refuses to pass on information that could save her life. Just about the only statement she gives throughout is that she played no part in the murder of Hannah Brown. Taking into account that she is imprisoned awaiting her fate, she is also a mother and her child faces a bleak future is she hangs. For Edmund he is rather keen to make his mark and impression on this investigation and this is testing him. The public have already condemned Sarah and want to see her on the end of the rope for her part. This indeed is both a complex and challenging investigation. The interviews between Edmund and Sarah are incredibly revealing. This is a story with many twists and turns before we find out what happens to Sarah. Some of the answers to my own questions were not as I thought. The research carried out by Mazzola on an actual crime that took place in the nineteenth century must have been difficult and painstaking trying to piece together actual facts and create a gripping debut novel that is worthy of many plaudits.
Throughout the story I was not sure of Sarah a character that one minute you believed then you were unsure of what she was hiding. I warmed to Edmund as he went about trying to put a case together that would save her life. He came across in the end as a genuine man.
The Unseeing is a book a highly recommend, the perfect read for the autumn as the days grow shorter.
Thank you to Tinder Press and Bookbridgr for the review copy.
The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola is published by Tinder Press in hardback and is available through Waterstones and all good bookshops.