Strange Star

strange-star

Strange Star was written by Emma Carroll and first published in 2016. It is middle grade novel which presents a fantastical account of how Mary Shelley found the inspiration to write Frankenstein. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

June, 1816. The year that a bright new star appears in the sky, drawing a long tail behind it. Lord Byron invites four esteemed guests to Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva for an evening of ghost stories to chill the blood. For his young servant, Felix, it is an exciting night. Not only is it a good time to prove he is worthy of being Byron’s footman but he can also listen to tales told by some of the greatest thinkers in England.

Yet as darkness falls and a storm begins, there comes a frantic knocking at the door. Felix reluctantly answers it to find the body of a girl on the doorstep. Although Dr Polidori declares her dead, Mary Shelley is not prepared to give up on her. Through sheer force of will she manages to revive the girl, and the girl immediately accuses her of having kidnapped her younger sister. Horrified at the accusation, Mary denies any wrong doing, but the girl has a terrible story to tell.

As Felix and Mary listen, the girl – named Lizzie – tells a terrifying story of her own. One that began the previous winter in a small English village. It is a tale of freak storms and stolen livestock. Impossible science and the possibility of curing death itself. Although Mary is not sure if she believes Lizzie, her story is truly more terrible than anything that the writers could have dreamed of.

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The Snow Sister

The Snow Sister

Well, the summer’s over and so it’s that time of year when advent calendars and baubles start to appear in shop windows. To celebrate the fact that there are only 110 more sleeps to go until Christmas, today I’m going to be looking at The Snow Sister by Emma Carroll. This short novella is due for release in October and is a stand-alone story, so you don’t need to read any of Carroll’s other novels to fully appreciate it.

It’s been three years since Pearl’s sister, Agnes, passed away and she’s never really had a chance to mourn. Her parents simply put all of her things into storage and have continued by seemingly ignoring the fact that they ever had two daughters. However, Pearl has never forgotten and every winter she dresses a snowman in one of Agnes’s shawls to pretend that her sister is still with her.

Everything changes on Christmas Eve when her father gets a letter. Her Uncle Silas has died and named her father as the sole beneficiary of his will. Her excited mother sends Pearl to town to buy the ingredients for Christmas pudding to celebrate the change in their luck.

Pearl’s trip is riddled with disaster as she is accused of a thief and then caught in an accident. Unable to walk, she winds up spending the night with the rich Lockwood family. While observing the behaviour of the Lockwood’s spoiled children, Pearl gradually learns that perhaps money isn’t the most important thing in life.

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In Darkling Wood

In Darkling Wood

Please note that the following review is based on an advanced reader copy that I received from the publisher and therefore may contain slight differences to the finished work.

In Darkling Wood was written by Emma Carroll and is due for release on 2nd July. It is a fantasy story suitable for middle graders and young teens which is loosely inspired by the Cottingley Faerie photographs. In Darkling Wood is the author’s third novel, yet is a stand-alone story and so you don’t need to have read Frost Hollow Hall or the The Girl Who Walked On Air to fully enjoy this book.

As her brother Theo is suddenly whisked into hospital for a heart transplant, Alice finds herself sent off to stay in the country with Nell, a Grandmother that she barely knows. With no internet or television, Alice quickly finds herself wishing that she was with the rest of the family but she soon changes her mind as she ventures into the dense forest that surrounds her Grandmother’s home.

It is in Darkling Wood that Alice meets Flo, a strange girl who believes that faeries live amongst the trees. Nell plans on having the entire wood cut down as the tree roots are damaging her home but Flo insists that doing so will anger the faeries, forcing them to extract their revenge. The only way to appease the faeries is to somehow stop the woods from being destroyed. Flo claims that Alice is the one who can do that but only if she believes in faeries.

Back in 1918, a little girl writes to her brother who has gone to war. She is sick of her mother’s attempts to make her behave like a lady as she would like nothing more than to spend her days playing in the woods. Yet her life is about to change. As she too discovers the faeries of Darkling Wood, she seeks to find a way to prove their existence to her family. However, some things are better left hidden…

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