Wednesday, May 31, 2023
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Monday, May 29, 2023
Friday, May 26, 2023
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
In 2019, Mallory, a American Homicide Detective who went on a trip to Edinburgh, was attacked and left for dead in an alley. But, Mallory isn't dead. And here's where the series title comes in - she wakes up in a hospital to find herself in the body of a housemaid, who was also attacked in the same alley. But.....in 1869. What a great set up!
From the outside looking in, she appears to be a maid, but once a detective, always a detective. This latest case is too close for comfort for Mallory's benefactors. I really enjoy how the cases are solved - which is the 'old fashioned' way - using deductions, legwork, suspicions, observations and more. Forensic science is in it's infancy and Mallory can help with that. Armstrong always comes up with a well written, not easy to solve, crime. This latest is no exception - I changed my guess multiple times on the way to the final pages.
I quite like Mallory as a lead character. We're privy to her inner thoughts as she tries to adapt to the time frame, keep up a façade and help her benefactors solve local crime. She has to think of everything - what her behaviour should look like, the language she uses and how to navigate in a past she doesn't really know much about. The supporting cast is excellent - the master of the house and his sister have skills and interests that intersect with Mallory's talents.
I also appreciate the detailed description of the settings and the social strata as well.
A unique premise, great characters, a keep 'em guessing mystery and more. I feel a romantic thread may develop in the next entry? The ending is satisfying, but there are still questions to be answered. The biggest being if Mallory can ever get back through the rip. And on the other hand...where is Catriona?
I chose to listen to The Poisoner's Ring. The narrator was Kate Handford and she did a wonderful job of presenting Armstrong's work. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and easy on the years. She's created many identifiable voices that let the listener who is speaking. A Scottish accent is needed for many of the characters and an inner American one for Mallory. The accent often changes within conversations and Handford keeps up with that. There's lots of scenes and situations that are dangerous, emotional etc. and Hanford captures the tone of the plot with her voice. An excellent reading of a really great book.
Monday, May 22, 2023
Friday, May 19, 2023
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
The book unfolds in a now and then timeline, which I really like.
In 1940, Hazel and her younger sister Flora are shipped out of London to live with guest families under the governments 'Pied Piper' program. To keep Flora settled, Hazel invents a tale of a magical place called Whisperwood. But the unthinkable happens and Flora goes missing. Hazel has searched and search for Flora with no luck. But when a book called Whisperwood crosses the counter at her job in 1960 she is stunned. The book is full of her stories. And....
Isn't that a great premise? I loved the magical tone of the the stories. But there's so much more to love. Hazel is easy to like and I was immediately behind her. There's a number of supporting that are just as wonderful, such Harry and his mother. And those you want to nudge out of the story. But they too, have purpose.
Henry's settings are so well described that I could imagine living in the small village of Binsey (it is indeed a real place.) And working with Hazel in the rare books store. And of course....Whisperwood.
There's the mystery of what happened to Flora driving the narrative, but relationships are right along side - siblings, parental, friendships and love. And of course, the stories...
"Not very long ago and not very far away, there once was and still is an invisible place right here with us. And if you are born knowing, you will find your way through the woodlands to the shimmering doors that lead to the land made just and exactly for you."
Cynthia Erivo was the reader for the audio version. Wow, she interpreted and performed this book wonderfully. Her voice has a lower tone to it that draws the listener into the story. Her voice is velvety smooth and is so pleasant to listen to. She speaks clearly and enunciates well. She captures the emotions and action of the book well. And when she reads a Whisperwood story - her voice is magical. The speed of the reading is just right. And this is an odd thing - but I don't believe I've ever had a narrator put so much emotion and feeling into one single word. Erivo does this a number of time with the word 'yes'. Shivers!
A fantastic performance of a fantastic book. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Secret Book of Flora Lea.