Book Review: Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield (2018)

One night at an ancient inn on the Thames, an injured stranger appears at the door carrying the lifeless body of a little girl who has drowned in the river. Hours later, the girl comes back to life. The regulars at the inn have many questions: How and where did the stranger receive his injuries? How could the girl have come back from the dead? And just who is this miracle child, who smells like the river and doesn’t speak?

As the story spreads throughout the village, several people step forward to claim the child as their own. One desperate mother is sure the girl is her daughter, who was kidnapped years ago. Another woman insists it is her sister, even though she and the child are much too far apart in age to be natural siblings. And another couple believes the girl to be the daughter of their estranged son. No one knows the truth—and the child, still silent a year after making her startling appearance, isn’t revealing the truth of her mysterious origins.

Blending magical realism with folklore, fantasy, and historical fiction, this novel will keep readers riveted from the first page. Setterfield presents a story filled with fluid prose, dynamic characters, romance and suspense, and more than a touch of enchantment.

Book Review by Shannon Bowring, Tech Services Coordinator

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