ONCE UPON A RIVER, by Diane Setterfield, Atria/Emily Bestler Boooks, Double Day Book/PenguinRandomHouse


A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

Out December 2018

464 pages approx.


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Descriptive narrative mixed with a steady flowing plot, is how I’d describe this book.

Many characters, each developed keenly and neatly, fully fleshed out, are surrounded by lore, magic and mystery. This story is deeply atmospheric. Filled to the brim with love, loss and hope and a mysterious child in its center. I needed to know who this child was, to whom did she belong and why was she in the river?

This book has to be read with patience in order to truly appreciate the layers of story-telling, the importance of each character and the cross-over of genre used for an outstanding effect.

This is a character-driven book. The voice of the author is strong, flowing and captivating.

I found it alluring, intriguing and satisfying.  If you like books that feel like campfire story-telling, then this book is for you.

I gave it:




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