Book Review: Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Book - Once Upon A RiverIt was the beautiful cover design that attracted me to Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield and, as soon as I began to read, I was hooked. It’s a wonderfully mysterious, ghostly tale, set in a time before people travelled far, and centred around The Swan Inn, on the edge of the Thames, at Radcot, where the age-old tradition of storytelling holds sway.  

One freezing winter’s night, just as a new story is about to begin, a stranger stumbles through the door:

The man – if man it was – was tall and strong, but his head was monstrous and they boggled at the sight of it. Was it a monster from a folk tale? Were they sleeping and was this a nightmare? The nose was askew and flattened; beneath it was a gaping hollow, dark with blood. As sights went, it was horrifying enough, but in its arms the awful creature carried a large puppet, with waxen face and limbs and slickly painted hair…

And so the real story emerges from the river itself – a story of, not one, but two, or possibly even three, missing children, a story of talking pigs, dripping ghosts, and magic tricks, a story of unimaginable loss and miraculous return, full of characters whose lives are inextricably entwined with the flow of the river.

It is a story which twists and turns, just like the river, and it is a story that is re-told and re-imagined many times over. It is entrancing, and beautiful – the perfect cosy read for winter nights.

Buy a copy of Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield

Subscribe to Blog via Email

If you enjoyed reading this review why not subscribe to my blog and get regular book reviews sent to your inbox?