Monday, 8 January 2018

Whales and Strange Star by Kathy Sharp
Series: Wynch Ferry Series #1
Release Date: 12th December 2017
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Genres:  Historical Fiction

A world beyond her own.

A sea captain passes through the forgotten port of Wych Ferry, and whiles away an hour relating his traveller’s tales to young Rosamund Euden. He tells her that the stars are different, if you sail far enough, that the horizon isn’t quite real, not when you get there; he speaks of sea serpents and whales, and mysterious islands.

To an impressionable girl who has never left her home, the whales and strange stars of his stories come to symbolise the great outside world she longs to see. The sea captain moves on, unaware of the dramatic events he has set in action as Rosamund’s search for adventure leads her into a world of dangerous secrets in the marshlands of eighteenth century Kent.

Torn between loyalty to her uncles, and her desire to discover what lies beyond the marshes, Rosamund seeks help from an unexpected source. But who can she really trust?

Set in the 1800's, the story follows the story of Rosamund Euden. A young, naive girl who is on the cusp of womanhood and desperate for adventure of her own. She lives with her two uncles Joss and Burto and their housekeeper Mrs Eliza who has the almost impossible task of teaching Rosamund how to be a proper young lady, following etiquette and acting as any respectable young lady should. Not easy when Rosamund has almost no experience outside of her life with her uncles, living beside the river. Both men work on the river, one on the ferry transporting people, the other transporting goods from the main town with their main employer being the mysterious Mr Antonius. Joss also moves goods for one Mr Littlebourne who it seems has taken an interest in young Rosmaund, lending her books from his library. These books, coupled with her interaction with a sea captain who was passing through, only serve to make Rosamund desperate for more adventures and experiences away from what she views as a restrictive life with her uncles.

Rosamund, eager to learn more about the outside world begins to eavesdrop on conversations between her uncles, the housekeeper and Mr Antonious. Talk of devils and magic soon set her imagination into over-dive and she fears that her uncles are mixed up in some form of black magic. Mysterious things soon start to happen at the Inn where they live and she fears for not only her own safety but the safety of her uncles. Fear combined with excitement that such things are happening right under her nose, she secretly conveys those fears to Mr Littlebourne who insists she write down everything she hears and gives him the documentation. Rosamund is relying on Mr Littlebourne to help her uncles when the time is right. However, not all is as it seems as Rosamund will soon find out. Superstition and fear will confuse and upset her and change her life.

I'm really conscious about giving too much more away about the story. Kathy Sharp has created such an idyllic setting along the riverbank and I absolutely adore the characters of Joss and Burto. Both have very opposing views on how Rosamund should be raised but between themselves and the guidance of Ms Eliza, they provide a warm and loving home for Rosamund, albeit it a little restrictive, failing to recognise that she is no longer a child. Joss in particular was a firm favourite of mine. His on-going love affair with his boat the Belle Isle and his ability to read the river are just lovely. A man who prefers his own company he is a lovely gentle character, if not a little cranky at times when that solitude is disturbed by the outside world. Burto, the more level headed of the two and the ideas man is a perfect complement to Joss.

When I was considering how to word this review I was worried that the review wouldn't do this book justice. Its quite a unique type of book that meanders along like the ebb and flow of the river tides in the book. Filled with secrets, mystery and the carefree and easy way of life along the riverbank in a time when business and hard work meant the difference between surviving or going hungry. The hint of something mysterious going on in the background is tantalizingly dangled in front of the reader, leaving it a difficult book to put down. The pacing of the book is just right and like the river, it will take you where you want to go, but in its own time and own pace. Really looking forward to reading the next book in the series as I enjoyed this book so much. Highly recommended. 


Kathy Sharp was born and brought up by the sea in Kent. Life took her inland, and she worked for many years as a desktop publisher for Surrey County Council, and as a tutor in adult education.
And then, one day, she visited a friend who had just moved to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, and fell in love with the place. She has now lived by the sea in the Weymouth and Portland area for more than ten years, and still loves it. The wonderful Jurassic Coast, and Portland in particular, were the inspiration for her Larus Trilogy of novels.
Kathy also sings with, and writes lyrics for, the Island Voices Choir on Portland, and is a keen member of local writing groups, as well as enjoying studying the local flora.

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