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Book Review: The Mermaid’s Call by Katherine Stansfield

Katherine Stansfield’s Cornish Mysteries series moves to the unforgiving North Cornwall coast where Shilly and Anna are to investigate whether The Mermaid’s Call lured a man to his death.

Cornwall, 1845. Shilly has always felt a connection to happenings that are not of this world, a talent that has proved invaluable when investigating dark deeds with master of disguise, Anna Drake. The women opened a detective agency with help from their newest member and investor, Mathilda, but six long months have passed without a single case to solve and tensions are growing.  

It is almost a relief when a man is found dead along the Morwenstow coast and the agency is sought out to investigate. There are suspicions that wreckers plague the coast, luring ships to their ruin with false lights – though nothing has ever been proved. Yet with the local talk of sirens calling victims to the sea to meet their end, could something other-worldly be responsible for the man’s death?

A slightly more compact hardback for this third book in the Cornish Mysteries series but the cover is every bit as eye-catching and beautiful as those of its predecessors: Falling Creatures and The Magpie Tree.

When the book opens, we find Shilly and Anna on the coast in Boscastle, renting rooms above a butcher’s shop. They’re joined by Mathilda, who also appeared in The Magpie Tree, as they wait for a new case. It comes to their rooms in the shape of a drowned man:

He was soaked. Not just his clothes but his skin, too… the water seemed to pour from him… His broad face was coarse with stubble. This made him seem grey… He surely had come to us from the bottom of the sea.

Reading this whole scene where the captain describes the dream that brought him so abruptly home from sea, and which ends with Shilly describing someone: “As if she was the sea herself” was so powerful that I became fully immersed in the story and barely surfaced again until I’d finished The Mermaid’s Call.

Shilly and Anna’s investigations take them further up the coast from Boscastle to Bude and Morwenstow and Katherine Stansfield uses her poetic powers to fully realise this part of Cornwall within the pages of The Mermaid’s Call. I was dragged through the cloying mud in the lanes and fields, overwhelmed by the creeping stench in the churchyard, felt the pull of the clamouring sea beyond the cliffs and sensed myself being buffeted across the windswept fields towards them. Read more

Book Review: The Day We Meet Again by Miranda Dickinson

Miranda Dickinson’s latest book The Day We Meet Again is out today. A tale of friendship, finding yourself and being brave, it lives up to all my eager anticipation for this new novel from her.

Their love story started with goodbye…

Phoebe and Sam meet by chance at St Pancras station. Heading in opposite directions, both seeking their own adventures, meeting the love of their lives wasn’t part of the plan. So they make a promise: to meet again in the same place in twelve months’ time if they still want to be together.

But is life ever as simple as that?

I’ve always found railway stations interesting places to linger in, an integral part of any journey I go on. And here, Miranda Dickinson taps into the magic that sometimes swirls through a railway station with its propensity for bringing strangers together. London’s St Pancras, the station in The Day We Meet Again, will play an important role in Sam and Phoebe’s stories and even take on a new significance for them as time goes on.

I enjoyed seeing where and how Sam and Phoebe meet and, as they get to know each other, I could certainly feel the pull of their mutual attraction. I was also hugely relieved when they continued on with their planned journeys because I felt these were important. They each needed to find themselves, come to terms with their past or work out what they wanted, or didn’t want from life, before committing to anything new, while also testing how they felt about each other over the course of the coming year.

The alternating chapters worked really well in keeping the story moving along, and showing the same event from their two (often different or confused) perspectives. Miranda also showed to good effect how miscommunication can still be rife, even with every modern tool we have available to us, and that these are still often but poor substitutes for face-to-face contact.

One of the aspects I particularly like about any Miranda Dickinson novel is the community she creates around the central couple, and in The Day We Meet Again, we have several different ones in the friendship groups, new and old, for both characters. I could gauge a lot about the main characters from how their friends treated them and looked out for them, and vice versa.    Read more

Croeso. Welcome to Nut Press.

This is the online home of Kathryn Eastman. I’m a rugby-loving, tea-drinking chocoholic book squirrel and writer, who lives on a hill, that wanted to be a mountain, in Wales.

The Nut Press is full of book reviews, chocolate, adventures with squirrels, and a lot of tea drinking among other things. Oh, and very occasionally, some writing gets done.

Check out the latest Blog Posts or read a Short Story.

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