The Story Keeper – Anna Mazzola

ISBN: 9781472234797. 26th July 2018. Headline Books. With thanks to TBC Reviewers and Headline books for sending me out a paperback copy.

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.

I loved this book so much. The Story Keeper is a beautiful mix of real life and magic. Anna Mazzola has weaved intrigue in with celtic folklore and it melds together, leaving the reader questioning what is real and what is not.

The prose is a lovely flow, taking you on a steady ride. I was worried that I’d struggle to pick it back up, after having a break for a few days, (I had my little sister come to stay) but it allows you to fall right back in again. The plot was great, and even though I guessed a couple of the twists early on, it’s written in such a way that I questioned myself regularly. I loved how this story progressed, building up to a great ending.

I loved the main character, Audrey, she’s the kind of person I would love to be. Audrey is bold, willing to take risks for what she believes in, and is loyal to those she deems deserves it. She had her flaws, but they made her so much more real to me.

Miss Buchanan is much like Audrey, but also is how I imagine I will be as an older woman. A bit of a hermit since he accident she comes across as odd,  but her love of books and old tales, and need to record stories so they don’t get lost made me completely love her.

Mairi is also an extremely well written female. She seemed so shy at the beginning, and a bit cold, but she grew on me so much.

Due to the era the book is set, the male characters made me angry, even those you don’t actually meet. Looking down on Audrey simply because she is a woman. Alec was an interesting character, but he is a perfect example of you never truly knowing someone who you think is on your side. His father, is not a nice man at all. Treating his sister, Miss Buchanan like crap, I just wanted to punch him. The Minister gave me bad vibes immediately. He is fanatical about his beliefs, telling the crofters they’re sinning simply for their talking of their folklore, or being superstitious. I hated the way this man treated everyone to be honest. He is one of those men who weild their power and throw it around. Urgh.

I have found myself enjoying historical fiction more and more recently, especially when based on some of the islands surrounding the UK. There is so much folklore that doesn’t get touched on, and I find these books to be a welcome breathe of air. Being far enough from real life that I can get lost without stressing about it’s similarity to real life. This book is no exception.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

You can buy yourself a copy here.

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