review

The Magpie Tree by Katherine Sansfield

Wow, it’s been nearly a fortnight since I wrote this post but forgot to post it. :/

Synopsis from Amazon:

“Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.”

*

I picked this book up inspired by the mention of witches and of course the location of Cornwall and I had a lovely surprise. I’ve been reading books set in different places as I haven’t gone on holiday this year and was surprised when the setting of this book became very familiar and then there was a mention of Boscastle 🙂

I have actually visited the setting inspired and adapted into this book and it was a very unusual experience reading about somewhere I’d been. I think I’d like to read more.

My Review

This is the second book featuring the characters of Anna and Shilly but I didn’t feel lost having not read the first book.

This book has got to have one of the best opening lines: ‘The day I went to the Jamaica Inn was the day I saw a man hanged’ it definitely caught my attention and it didn’t waver. I enjoyed the story, an unusual whodunnit set in old Cornwall where people are still holding onto their superstitions. I loved the dark atmsophere of the woods and the eeriness of the mention of magics which leave you wondering if it’s a real person  who committed the crime or something else entirely.

I didn’t really like Anna, there was a moment where I started to feel a little bit of sympathy towards her but I still didn’t like her. Although I did find the characters intriguing and I’d probably read more.

The best thing about this was the location and the atmosphere at the start which was quite dark and the supernatural ideas/elements were interesting and added to the mystery. However I often felt that it was more ‘crime’ novel than the quotes on the cover liked to emphasis, I didn’t feel that it was ‘macabre’ but then I’ve read a lot of horror so maybe it would be to someone who doesn’t.  I think it’s hard to have a macabre ‘whodunnit’ as the tension of a gothic/darker novel would have slowed the pace necessary for a good mystery? Just my opinion.

I enjoyed the story and the mystery a lot it was definitely a good mix of weird and ‘whodunnit’ which I haven’t really read before. A good idea and worth a read.

1 thought on “The Magpie Tree by Katherine Sansfield”

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