I’m absolutely delighted today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Secrets of the Mist by Kate Ryder: published on 19th September by Aria Fiction, it’s available for kindle via Amazon and also for Kobo, via iBooks and through Google Play. My thanks to Vicky at Aria Fiction for the invitation and support, and also thanks to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
Just between you and me, I’ve become a bit of a fan of Kate’s books. I thoroughly enjoyed her first book for Aria, Summer in a Cornish Cove (you can read my review here): and that was no fluke, because I perhaps enjoyed the sequel, Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, even more (review here). I’d been meaning to catch up with The Forgotten Promise, published independently before I discovered her writing, so I was thrilled to find that Aria were republishing it – with editorial revisions – as Secrets of the Mist. Kate told me she thought it might just be right up my street – and I’m pleased to report that she was absolutely right…
A gorgeous timeslip romance for fans of Kate Mosse, Diana Gabaldon and Barbara Erskine.
Maddie is restless in London. She has friends, a job and a sort-of boyfriend, but something in her life is missing. Then she visits the ancient village of Walditch, deep in the Dorset countryside. Something stirs in her, and on a whim she buys a centuries-old cottage and moves there three months later. Her friends think she’s crazy, but for Maddie it feels like coming home.
Late at night in the cottage, Maddie hears strange noises and sees mist gathering indoors and out. When she starts investigating the cottage’s history, she becomes drawn into the tragic story of a family who lived here 400 years ago. Meanwhile, Maddie starts to fall in love with a local carpenter – but he has a relationship already…
Can Maddie solve the riddle of the past? What is her connection with the family that lived there so many years ago? And can she and her true love ever be together?
If you should ever ask me about the books I particularly enjoy, I guarantee that timeslip romance would feature prominently on my list. But it’s a genre that it’s very easy to get wrong – perhaps one thread stronger than the other, difficulties in the shift from one timeline to the other, failure to make it feel “real”. But there are no such problems here – everything is absolutely right, and I knew from the start that I was in the hands of an author with whom I could relax and escape into the story.
Perhaps it’s a simple desire for change, but when Maddie sees The Olde Smithy her decision is made – she moves to Dorset, leaves her high-flying life and part-time relationship with Dan behind, and begins to settle in the new community. But did she choose her new life, or did it choose her? It soon becomes clear that her new home harbours a story that it needs her help to complete, with a powerful emotional connection, and echoes from the past that need resolution. And the contemporary story, as well as exploring Maddie’s new possibilities and journey to self-discovery, also continues to follow Dan’s story – a new relationship with particular challenges – which is well-handled and grounds the whole story in life’s present day realities.
I’m sometimes a little uncomfortable about the supernatural, but the content in this book was perfectly judged – and, although thoroughly convincing, didn’t give me sleepless nights. The swirling mist (a perfect touch) preceded every apparition and visitation, and the ghostly became real and substantial – and totally believable, tied into the fabric of the house and its seventeenth century past. I liked the matter of fact telling of the footsteps on the stairs, the sad stranger, the crying child, the reflections in the mirror – and was never in the least surprised that Maddie accepted her part in completing the story. The writing really draws you in – and I particularly liked the way the Smithy was brought vividly to life, its past revealed through the traces of a long-removed staircase and a fireplace hiding place revealing its secrets.
The shifts between timelines are absolutely smooth and easy. The developing romance within the contemporary story is thoroughly convincing, an attraction with obstacles to overcome – not least the fact that Nick is already in a difficult long-term relationship – and tinged with echoes of the past. The historical thread, set against the backdrop of the Civil War, is equally convincing, the obstacles even greater, infused with sadness and loss, with a deep love that you can really feel.
The characterisation is excellent – I liked the occasional distraction of life at the pub across the green, the people who play their parts in the story, sometimes drawing together the past and present, sometimes just providing that return to normality that the story needs.
And let’s just linger on that wonderful cover for a moment… I’ve rarely seen one that captures a book so perfectly. I’ve mentioned the vivid and detailed descriptions of the Smithy, but the author has a rather special touch with her descriptions of the surrounding countryside too. The cover, as well as evoking the book’s mists and overall atmosphere, echoes a key moment in the story that really brought a tear to my eye – well done Aria!
I already knew that Kate Ryder was a wonderful storyteller, and this book really was everything I wanted it to be. Very much recommended – I loved it.
About the author
Kate Ryder writes romantic suspense with a true-to-life narrative. Her passion is writing (a period during which she studied acting only confirmed her preference for writing rather than performing!). Since then she has worked in the publishing, tour operating and property industries, and has travelled widely. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Kate lives in Cornwall with her husband and a newly acquired rescue cat.
In 2017 Kate signed a 4-book publishing contract with Aria (digital imprint of award-winning independent publisher, Head of Zeus). Her first novel, Summer in a Cornish Cove saw her nominated for the RNA’s 2018 Joan Hessayon award. Under its original self-published title, ‘The Forgotten Promise’, Secrets of the Mist was shortlisted for Choc Lit’s “Search for a Star” and awarded a Chill with a Book “Book of the Month”.
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