Beyond the Wild River by Sarah Maine

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Title: Beyond the Wild River

Author: Sarah Maine

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 26/4/17

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: A spellbinding and beautiful novel from a major new voice in fiction, perfect for fans of Kate Morton, Santa Montefiore and Rachel Hore.

From the author of THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES, comes an atmospheric and stunningly evocative historical novel. Perfect for fans of Eowyn Ivey’s TO THE BRIGHT EDGE OF THE WORLD, Stef Penney’s UNDER A POLE STAR, and Sarah Perry’s THE ESSEX SERPENT.

‘Maine skilfully balances a Daphne du Maurier atmosphere with a mystery… compelling’ Kirkus Reviews Scotland, 1893. Nineteen-year-old Evelyn Ballantyre, the daughter of a wealthy landowner, has rarely strayed from her family’s estate in the Scottish Borders. She was once close to her philanthropist father, but his silence over what really happened on the day a poacher was shot on estate land has come between them.

An invitation to accompany her father to Canada is a chance for Evelyn to escape her limited existence. But once there, on the wild and turbulent Nipigon river, she is shocked to discover that their guide is James Douglas, Ballantyre’s former stable hand, and once her friend. He disappeared the night of the murder, charged with the shooting.

Evelyn never believed that James was guilty – and her father’s role in the killing has always been mysterious. What does he have to hide? In the wild landscape of a new world, far from the constraints of polite society, the secrets and lies surrounding that night are finally stripped away, with dramatic consequences.

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Evelyn Ballantyre has rarely left her family estate in the Scottish Borders, but a mystery from five years ago has put a strain on their relationship. In 1888 , there was a murder on the estate, and Evelyn knows the wrong man was accused, and so does her father, but he refuses to reveal the truth. They encounter the wrongly accused young man, James, on their trek in Canada as they travel across the country, taking in the wilderness and encountering the Native Americans living there at the time, faced with emerging memories of the murder, and the cover up that has led them to where they are. Through these scenes, a mystery emerges, and Evelyn is determined to prove to her father that James isn’t the killer and force him to tell the truth and reveal what he knows.

The wilderness of nineteenth century Canada is as much a character in the novel as the Ballantyres, James and their travelling companions. Evelyn and those she is travelling with are as intrigued by the mystery of the murder back in Scotland, yet they seem more fascinated by the Canadian wilderness, and the unknown culture they are faced with – though attitudes of the time and the approach they took in showing their fascination affect the actions and words of the characters. Yet Sarah Maine has managed to show these attitudes sensitively and with care, illustrating the different attitudes, but not resorting to using derogatory terms of the time, but still maintaining the fascination of the Other and the unknown prevalent at a time when contact between cultures wasn’t as instantaneous as it is today.

The character and setting of the Canadian adds another layer: it is the mystery of a new land, a physical place, contrasted against the mystery of the murder – leading to Evelyn wondering if the murderer is actually with them, given that James didn’t do it. In making the setting a character, Sarah Maine has used it to show the flaws in the other characters, as well as showing this through their interactions with each other, eventually bringing the truth out into the open.

I enjoyed the pacing – it was slow at times, but only when it needed to be, and wasn’t too quick. It fitted the genre and plot nicely, and ensured a delightful read with an unexpected ending that I wasn’t sure would happen, but was a pleasant surprise when it happened.

An enjoyable novel for fans of literary fiction, historical fiction, mystery and Kate Morton.

Booktopia

The Fairly Stillwater Chronicles Two Blog Tour Day 8

I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review from the publisher

The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles, Volume Two

Stillwart the Pixie is back with her rag-tag group of magical friends! Determined to complete her mission to the Northern Lands, with the hope of saving her people from extinction, she ventures from Nova Scotia to Ireland.

The journey is long and arduous, fraught with danger at every turn, but Stillwart and friends band together, knowing their precious cargo is needed. With only their wits, a cell phone, and the human they’ve come to rely on, the group presses forward, facing each obstacle with spritely courage. To make matters works, the call of the Thorn Tree is strong, making the expedition all the more urgent.

The Fairly Stillwart Chronicles are a series of six short stories detailing the life and adventures of Stillwart the Pixie and her adopted fairy family. The stories capture the Southern Land Fairy folklore by bringing to life their world, hierarchy, and the challenges they face to keep their race and magic alive.

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Scott Butcher’s world of fairy folk and pixies that have crossed oceans between Australia, Canada and Ireland present the reader with a wondrous journey that began in Volume One. Now Ireland, Stillwart the Pixie and her friends, now joined by two human companions, Lucy and Phoebe. I was again swept into the world of the fairy battle across the seas from where the story started in Australia. We enter the battle to save the fairy race and magic with the Northern Fairies and Muckrake the Elder, the pixie scribe. As well as an enthralling plot, there is an intriguing interrelationship between the fairies of the North, and those of the South, willing to come to each other’s aid at a moment’s notice. Heading to where the battle to save their race is taking place, Stillwart and her friends are soon pulled into a war that one of them may go missing in, and where secrets could be revealed.

I liked Butcher’s fast pace, it kept me reading and was a nice length when you want a quick yet fabulously written read. I loved that the author took us from Australia to Canada and then to Ireland and the United Kingdom, it gave the fairy story a love sense of time and place, and it excited me to imagine that there are fairies somewhere in Australia. Living in Australia, I wondered if the fairies here would differ between bush, coastal and desert races.

I found the way the fairies spoke of the nations, such as that Canada place, that Australia place and about the human as wonderful examples of how they see the world differently to a human character. Their understanding of the world changes when they meet the humans, yet they still maintain their ways as well, nobody changes to suit the other party, yet they were still able to communicate and help each other.

Towards the end, a few revelations stopped my heart for a while, and I found myself desperate to find out what happens to a beloved character, and why. The short chapters kept up the pace well too, ensuring that the attention of the reader would be on the book and the story, though at times I found them too short because I didn’t want to book to end so soon. Overall, this is turning out to be a fantastic series, and I look forward to reading future books that reveal what happens to the characters.

Answer to yesterdays Riddle: Two

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