#BookReview of ‘Keeper of Secrets’ by Lynda Stacey as part of the @rararesources #blogtour #KeeperofSecrets @ChocLituk @RubyFiction @LyndaStacey #doncasterisgreat

It is my great pleasure today to be on the blog tour for ‘Keeper of Secrets’ by Lynda Stacey. Many thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for my e-copy of the book, in exchange for my thoughts.


Synopsis
KEEPER OF SECRETS_FRONT_RGB_150dpi
Should some secrets stay buried?

For as long as Cassie Hunt can remember her Aunt Aggie has spoken about the forgotten world that exists just below their feet, in the tunnels and catacombs of the Sand House. The story is what inspired Cassie to become an archaeologist.

But Aggie has a secret that she’s buried as deep as the tunnels and when excavation work begins on the site, Cassie is the only one who can help her keep it. With the assistance of her old university friend, Noah Flanagan, she puts into action a plan to honour Aggie’s wishes.

It seems the deeper Noah and Cassie dig, the more shocking the secrets uncovered – and danger is never far away, both above and below the ground …


My thoughts

I was really happy to get on to this blog tour, as the author is from a village less than four miles away from where I live, plus I love the subject matter. I always wanted to be an archaeologist, right from my first experience of the adventures of Indiana Jones, through my gaming addiction to Lara Croft, and the muddy, methodical Time Team.

Anyway, I was an auditor, and then a housewife now, so it didn’t quite turn out the way I’d planned…!

The story starts dramatically, and in the first chapter, we are immediately drawn into the dark world of Cassie’s youth in Doncaster. The mood lightens throughout the rest of the first part, as we see Cassie and her sister living more comfortably and surrounded with love. Aunt Aggie is a lovely, selfless character and her story drives the whole plot.

It is from Aunt Aggie, in the first instance, and without knowing the full story, that Cassie follows her dream out to Italy as an archaeologist, and there is a really compelling dual plotline which I have no intention of revealing beyond what you can see from the blurb, but hope that it suffices to say that it’s clever and poignant and every bit worth reading for yourself.

I was totally absorbed in this novel, from the dark to the light, and then back again. It is part romance, part mystery and is beautifully balanced. The characters are believable, with back stories which rise to the fore in all the right places.

Gripping, dangerous, tense and heart-breaking; this is a story of the lengths we will go to for those we love. For me personally, it’s also been a fascinating introduction to an incredible local history of which I had no previous knowledge. I’ve done lots of research since I finished reading.

Thoroughly enjoyed this; highly recommended. I also hope that Lynda and her friends and family were not affected by the terrible flooding we have seen in Doncaster over the last few days 🙁

To buy a copy, please click here

About the author

Lynda Stacey

Lynda is a wife, step-mother and grandmother who grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire..

She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 28 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.

Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices, helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers’ Scheme and in 2015 her debut novel House of Secrets won Choc Lit’s Search for a Star competition. Lynda writes for both Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction.

To connect with Lynda:

Facebook

Twitter

Website

To read lots of other reviews etc about ‘Keeper of Secrets’, please do check out the other blogs on the tour, which are shown on the banner below:

Keeper of Secrets Full Tour Banner

 


 


 

 

 

‘Elmet’ by Fiona Mozley #Elmet #bookreview #bookbloggers

“Elmet was the last independent Celtic kingdom in England and originally stretched out over the vale of York….But even into the seventeenth century this narrow cleft and its side-gunnels, under the glaciated moors, were still a ‘badlands’, a sanctuary for refugees of the law”

Remains of Elmet
Ted Hughes

Elmet was the ancient name for an area which, more or less, encompasses the West Riding of Yorkshire; roughly from York to just south of Doncaster. This is where I live now, and with chagrin, I realised that I had never heard of it, other than in place names of which, I suppose, I had thought nothing.

Elmet, is then associated with that which is far removed from recent history, and this, along with the above quotation from Ted Hughes, sets the scene for this dark, heart-rending, immersive and brilliant debut novel from Fiona Mozley.

We begin Elmet near the end, with our narrator, Daniel, who is alone and heading north, in the bleak hope that he has taken the right path. His situation is desperate.

He has never been alone before, but neither has he been much in company. Without a mother from an early age, he and his sister, Cathy, have lived with Daddy. Daddy builds a house near the woods with his bare hands, manipulating wood like a master craftsman would have done centuries ago, before such skills became at the behest of the wealthy or to make novelties and trinkets. Daddy is almost a figure of legend; not Robin Hood perhaps. Maybe Little John; built like a giant. He belongs to a world before modern laws and social norms; he broods with a simmering violence, he disappears for days on end. They have enough money to survive. He moves on the very outskirts of society, he bareknuckle fights, and resolves local disputes in lieu of the law. Daddy is feared and revered, and feared some more, yet he is unfailing gentle with his children.

Daniel and Cathy are removed from mainstream school, after an incident involving Cathy. In an effort to provide some level of education, or perhaps just to keep them safe while he spends time away, Daddy takes them to Vivien, who is a reclusive friend of their mother. She has a warm and comforting home, but she is not motherly; rather awkward. We don’t really get to the bottom of this relationship; it’s mysterious between her and Daddy. Cathy can’t stay to read or learn, she’s not interested, and leaves to go outside every day. She is like Daddy, she belongs to, and is a force of, nature. Cathy is the tragic heroine of this novel; she’s extremely complex and has, if anything, a greater animalistic anger than Daddy.

Daniel is said to be like his mother, and indeed he is gender fluid, unconcerned about any physical difference between men and women. At home he is the care giver and the home maker, and he is accepted and appreciated for his way of being, without comment or prejudice. He loves to be at Vivien’s. It is here that he can see a future for himself, different from his past.

But they don’t own the land where their house is built, and there is a man who does, who cares very much about ownership and fealty. Mr. Price is the local landowner; rich and influential, and always gets his own way. He inspires fear in a different way to Daddy. While one lives outside of the societal norms, the other, it can be imagined, hides in plain sight. His children are in a prestigious private school and no doubt he can function in far higher society than Daddy. Morally, we are uncertain of Daddy, but we are in far less doubt with Price.

Who can control the most fear? The concluding chapters of Elmet are brutal and tragic. There is a great deal of inequality in the book, the social, the economic, the balance of power, the ability to determine what will happen, when, and how. Unbridled fury though, is the great equaliser, where all bets are off and the outcome becomes unpredictable. There is one part which I found to be like Lord of the Flies in reverse; where the children, in one moment of clarity, are horrified by the actions of adults, in a place where the law holds no sway.

There is a restless quality to this novel; comfortable moments are short-lived. The language is poetic and lyrical; some sentences are so profoundly beautiful, or laced with such visceral brutality, that I had to read them again, just to appreciate the skill with which they have been written. Much of the speech is in the vernacular. We talk funny in Yorkshire, finding the determiner ‘the’ unnecessary in most situations. ‘Doesn’t’, ‘wouldn’t’ and ‘couldn’t’ don’t require all their syllables when vocalised, and the word ‘was’, is invariably ‘were’ regardless of whether the subject is singular or plural.

And yet, the story on another level, is told so level headedly. Daniel has none of the anger in him that the other characters have. He is faced by choices, paths he could take, and although he thinks he is cowardly sometimes, his bravery is part of what makes this book so very powerful and so sad. The final, bleak observation, as a product of all he has experienced, nearly brought me to tears. One of my favourite reads this year.

Winner of the 2018 Polari First Book Prize and Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017.