Publication Date: 2nd April 2020
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins turned out to be a completely different book to what I originally thought when I requested a proof from the publisher. In an AMAZING way!
What I thought was going to be a ‘missing child’ thriller turned out to have a ghostly, creepy supernatural element which as you all know I AM HERE FOR. It was such a treat to discover this spooky thread and I immediately got the lovely ‘book tingles’. We all love the book tingles don’t we?!
I also starting reading this book when we were essentially put on lockdown by Boris and I so desperately needed a distraction. This book was perfect for that.
From the outset we are aware that a young child has gone missing. The structure of the whole story hangs on a framework of the police investigation and interview of a woman named Dee.
Dee is a nanny living and working in Oxford. She is between nannying jobs when she has a chance encounter with the new oxford Don Nick Law. Nick is currently looking for a nanny for his 8 year old daughter Felicity. Felicity’s mother died when she was 4 years old and now Felicity is selectively mute. She will only talk to Nick and completely ignores his new wife Mariah.
Dee starts work at The Lodgings and begins to care for Felicity. Dee quite quickly discovers that Nick and Mariah are extremely caught up in their new whirlwind life within the university with all the dinner parties and
Felicity is understandably a troubled child. She is painfully shy, she barely eats and she suffers terribly with sleep disturbances and episodes of sleep walking. She has a fascination with ‘tokens’ and talisman’s of sorts and likes you collect bleached animal bones. Dee indulges Felicity in her little idiosyncrasies despite Nick’s disapproval of his daughters strange habits.
When Nick employs a house historian named Linklater to trace the origins of The Lodgings as a present to Mariah, both Dee and Felicity begin to learn some facts about the houses history, most of which is somewhat disturbing. Felicity grows close to both Dee and Linklater and opens up to them both about the strange visions she sees in the attic rooms.
Dee continues to struggle with Nick and Mariah’s treatment of Felicity. She knows they don’t understand her and are not offering her the love and support she needs following the tragic death of her mother. Dee also struggles with her own past and the life she has run away from.
But where is Felicity now? Where has she disappeared to? Did she wander off alone? Or was she taken. Dee struggles to make herself heard with the two detectives who are leading the investigation, how far will she go to protect her innocence?…
I absolutely adored this book! At first when the book opened up with a police interview I was a little apprehensive. I don’t really enjoy police procedurals but this story is most certainly not one of those! The backdrop of a police interview topped and tailed each chapter and gave the book a great pace and sound structure to springboard the rest of the story off.
The interview allows Dee to recount what happened up to the point of Felicity’s disappearance, gives the reader the back story of her life and fleshes out the relationships between the main characters.
And what great characters they are! Dee is such an odd protagonist. In a great way! She comes off as quite detached and abrupt. She is quite the loner and spends her time buried in mathematics, trying to work out a mathematical ‘proof’. She can certainly hold her own against the bullish Nick. However, conversely she is really attentive to Felicity and quickly develops a huge affection for the child. She is quite guarded and stand offish, very protective of her early life and the secrets she carries deep within her.
Linklater is perhaps my favourite character. He appeared so fully formed in my minds eye right from the moment he blustered onto the scene. And boy does he bluster! He’s a typical academic, always pondering, ruminating, buzzing with distracting thoughts and bouncing from one idea to the next. He immediately bonds with Felicity and she him, so much so that he is initially unaware that she even is selectively mute. He is fully invested in researching the house and revels in the fact that Felicity shares his fascination.
I really enjoyed Lucy Atkins writing style and I think she absolutely nails dialogue! It feels so natural and free flowing, nothing stunted or forced. I really could imagine the conversations playing out between characters which gave the story real depth.
I was propelled along with the narrative and was desperate to discover just what had happened to little Felicity. But I also was completely happy to linger in the back story for a while, building up a firm picture of just what had been going on at The Lodgings.
All in all I really loved this book. I am hooked by Lucy Atkins writing style and very eager to read more from her.
Thank you as always to the publisher for my review copy.
See you all soon.
Amanda – Bookish Chat. Xx