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464 pages, Hardcover
First published December 4, 2018
Along the borders of this world lie others.
There are places you can cross.
This is one such place.
The rhythm of the train on the tracks suggested words to his overtired brain and he heard them as clearly as if an unseen person had pronounced them: Something is going to happen.
There must be more to stories than you think.
There are stories that may be told aloud, and stories that must be told in whispers, and there are stories that are never told at all.On the darkest night of the winter solstice, a wounded stranger shows up at an old inn by the river. In his arms he carries a dead child. A few hours later, against all odds, the child stirs and is alive again. What follows is a tale of magic, hope, love, redemption, and so much more.
“He sees to it that those who get into trouble on the river make it safely home again. Unless it is their time. In which case, he sees them to the other side of the river.”The Swan was recognised as a magnet for storytellers, and their greatest story was just about to unfold when a stranger staggers through the door of the inn with a dead girl in his arms. Both soaked as though from the river, the child appeared drowned and the man now unconscious were both cared for by Rita. Rita is a most fascinating character, a nurse whose experience and pursuit of knowledge competes if not surpasses doctors. A woman whose rational thinking and scientific explanation is fascinating to follow and connect with. Her logical brain is puzzled with the young dead girl.
“Wherever you looked at her, this child was unmarked, unbruised, ungrazed, uncut. The little body was immaculate. ‘Like a doll,’ Jonathan had told her when he described the girl falling into his arms, and she understood why he had thought so.Rita’s examination is stretched to wonderment when the child awakes, although, she will not or cannot speak.
That death had made no mark on her was strange enough, but nor had life, and that, in Rita’s experience, was unique. A body always tells a story – but this child’s corpse was a blank page.”
It had seemed then that her daughter’s absence had flooded Helena, flooded them both, and that with their words they were trying to bail themselves out. But the words were eggcups, and what they were describing was an ocean of absence, too vast to be contained in such modest vessels. She bailed and she bailed, but no matter how often she repeated the effort, she could not get to the end of it.Setterfield’s language is lovely and her storytelling is beautiful, with depths to it that most fantasy authors don’t aspire to. I also admire her ability to develop multi-layered characters and build a world that I felt wholly immersed in.