Sunday, 22 March 2020

Sharon Gosling - The House of Hidden Wonders - Book Review - Mr. Ripley's Enchanted Books

At the beginning of April 2020, Little Tiger will publish the latest book by Cumbrian author Sharon Gosling. When not writing, she is very busy being creative and, when not being creative, she might be found serving tea or wonderful cakes in her husband's second-hand bookshop. The House of Hidden Wonders has a brilliant title and an amazing book cover illustration produced by the very talented (a favourite illustrator of mine) Hannah Peck. It really makes this book stand out from the crowd and, hopefully, leap into the arms of many readers. They will certainly not be disappointed with the story inside. 

Set in the Victorian period, beneath the murky and eerie streets of Edinburgh, the story is a historical tale featuring some very notable people from that time period. One of the main characters is the young and slightly naive Arthur Conan Doyle. The story follows him in the early days as a medical student and sets the story off with an atmospheric flea in the tale. As a demon moves in the shadow and crimes have been committed, we find ourselves being introduced to Zinnie and her sisters fleeing from the authorities after stealing a silver watch from the pawnbroker's shop window.  As they run down the high street, we are catapulted into a mysterious world of danger and adventure. 

The story is very entertaining and well-written. It captures the place and time very well due to the author's careful research and her good knowledge of the city. Key places like Mary King's Close, which you still can visit today near the Royal Exchange, is used to great effect and helps create the atmosphere both below and above the streets. It leaves the reader with a creepy feeling that keeps you on the edge of the narrative abyss. 

The characters are all very likable; the genuine dialogue makes you engage quickly with them and help punch an element of realism into the plot. Especially as they all need to work together quickly to uncover the mystery surrounding The House of Wonders and the owner. Sinister activities are afoot with ghostly apparitions and an owner who seems to know more about this than they are prepared to let on. 

This is a brilliant read for anyone who loves an action-packed adventure full of drama. It's a historical gem capturing the very essence and feeling of the time; it will surround you in a fantasy bubble that you will simply not want to burst. 

Other books to read similar to this include: 
Philip Caveney - Seventeen Coffins -  Published by Fledgling Press.  Book Review Here.  
Robert J Harris - The Artie Conan Doyle Mysteries - Published by Kelpies.  Book Review Here.

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