The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola
|The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola|
|Reviewer: Mary Waterfall|
|Summary: What a wonderfully chilling and atmospheric, spine tingling novel. From the opening pages, you know that something terrible underpins this deliciously gothic and compelling tale, and that bad things are going to happen. Victorian values at their darkest, murky desires and the need to protect reputation at all cost colliding fiercely with fairies, changelings and mysterious disappearances. A thoroughly enjoyable and gratifyingly scary foray into human desires, battles for power and cultural decimation. This is historical realism at its best, spiced with a touch of the uncanny, mystery and superstition.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: July 2018|
|Publisher: Tinder Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Audrey, a complex mix of flights of fancy and seriousness, wanting, needing, to be more than what everyone expects of her, escapes from the straightjacket of her home. Where every action, every thought, every yearning is controlled by her father, who only once in his life threw caution to the wind and married way beneath him for love. Now a widower and remarried, he has rigorously returned to upholding what is right, what is proper, the bastion of doing what is expected.
Audrey cannot thrive in this environment, one that forces her ever onwards towards moulding herself into a perfect society miss. She escapes to the Isle of Sky, leaving a note but no forwarding address. Employed to collect folktales, she visits the keepers of the stories, in a race to preserve their oral history as the community becomes increasingly scattered through land clearance and emigration.
She hopes to capture again the golden magic moments of her earlier life spent travelling and recording folk tales with her mother. Her uneasy peace is shattered when she finds the body of a young woman washed broken onto the beach. The authorities pronounce her death an accident but the storytellers have a different explanation. Harder to believe but one which fits more closely with the circumstances of the young woman's death, particularly as other young women begin to disappear.
Mazzola spins this tale with a gentle hand, demonstrating that she too has the skill of the storytellers she portrays. The landscape majestic, brooding and wildly free, contrasts sharply with the stifled interior of the house where Audrey now lives. Her characters are full of life, rounded portrayals that leap off the page and demand that you listen.
Woven firmly within the tale is a struggle for thoughts and minds, one supposedly about faith but in reality about power. The church, school and landowner, drive a wedge into the community cutting away their roots. Deriding their language, mocking their stories, shattering their shared history they despise and revile the leaders of their community as ignorant and superstitious.
This is a time of rapid change, a time of promises of hell fire for those who resist, a time to shatter community ties to stop them fighting back and make them easier to remove. The folk tales are changing, told with fear, the magical beings becoming darker as the community become desperate to keep their history alive.
Mazzola's has a truly refreshing and original voice, if The Turn of the Screw, fell in love, got married and had a baby with The Wicker Man, this would be their offspring. For further delves into shady times of the past, check out Mazzola's earlier novel The Unseeing or The Redemption of Alexander Seaton.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola at Amazon.com.
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