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Magpie Lane

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When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers. As Dee looks back over her time in the Master's Lodging—an eerie and ancient house—a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford's secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family—and what it is to be denied one.

368 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 1, 2020

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About the author

Lucy Atkins

61 books372 followers
Lucy Atkins is an award-winning author and journalist. Her last novel, MAGPIE LANE, a literary mystery set in an Oxford College, was chosen as a Book of the Year by the Guardian, The Telegraph, Good Housekeeping magazine and Radio 4's Open Book. Lucy's third novel The Night Visitor, has been optioned for television, Her new novel, Windmill Hill has been described as 'a triumph' by Philip Pullman.

Lucy is a Tutor on the Creative Writing Masters degree at Oxford University. She is a book critic for The Sunday Times and other publications. She has also written several non-fiction books, including the Amazon #1 parenting bestseller, First-Time Parent (Collins, 2008).

Follow Lucy on
Twitter @lucyatkins
Instagram @lucyatkinswriter


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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 743 reviews
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,977 reviews1,510 followers
January 27, 2020
You know that feeling when you are desperate to find out how a story ends but equally desperate not to finish it because it’s soooo good? That’s how Magpie Lane is for me. Take one angry, controlling Oxford College Master, his eight year old selectively mute daughter, a pregnant Danish stepmother whose a fraught wallpaper restorer (yes, it’s a thing), a mathematically obsessed Nanny with a past, a fabulously eccentric House Detective whose been doing his doctorate for 27 years, a cat called Fibonacci, add in some ghostly haunting and Oxford University traditions and oddities and what have you got apart from a huge sentence?? An absolutely gripping story that enthrals from start to finish. I love it!! The story is told from the perspective of Dee, the nanny.

This novel is so well written, the story flows effortlessly and there are some fantastic and original descriptions that make Oxford come alive. It makes you feel a range of emotions such as anger at Nick and Mariah the parents who are just awful and blame their parental inadequacy and neglect of Felicity on Dee. There’s sadness for Felicity because she is grieving for her mother and there delight at Linklater,the House Detective, whose knowledge of Oxford is utterly fascinating and he helps bring Felicity out of her shell. There are some lovely touches of humour too and the growing bond between Felicity, Dee and Linklater is heartwarming.

The characterisation is superb - you can picture them all so easily. The stand out character is Dee. I love her kindness, patience and care she shows Felicity and how she really understands her. Her love of maths and how she makes it seem like magic is fascinating; there are a lot of maths references which makes this book a little bit different.

There are plenty of creepy and ghostly moments too as the Masters House has a long and unsettling history and this plays a pivotal role in the unfolding events in this unhappy home. I like how Lucy Atkins uses wallpaper references to illuminate a point especially through the William Morris patterns to demonstrate the artifice of Nick and Mariah’s life.

Overall, this is such a good book which I will remember. The end is really intriguing as it’s ambiguous which I like although it of course meant that the pleasure of reading this book was over! Highly recommended.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for the ARC.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,975 reviews2,042 followers
April 5, 2020
EXCERPT: 'A little boy died here!' Mariah's voice trembled from the bed,close to tears. 'A little boy was murdered in this house!'

I walked over. 'What?'

'That house detective person just phoned-I'd forgotten all about him. He was asking for you, for some reason, he says he's trying your mobile but you won't pick up. Why's he phoning you ? I was sleeping-he just woke me up and he told me to tell you a little boy was murdered here. A little boy was poisoned in this house! In the First World War! Oh my God, a ... little ... boy' Her words dissolved into sobs.

I tried to soothe her. 'Ach, I'm sure lots of people have died here,' I said. 'It's a 400 year old house.'

The room was boiling and the air smelled sweet and sickly. 'But a child was murdered here!' Mariah wailed. 'This is so horrible. So horrible. It makes sense now, the atmosphere in this place. Don't you feel it? You have to!'

ABOUT THIS BOOK: As Dee looks back over her time in the Master's Lodging - an eerie and ancient house - a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

MY THOUGHTS: Step up into the spotlight, Lucy Atkins, and take a bow. Magpie Lane was one riveting read. One that started out quite innocuously, then slowly cranked up the tension until I was forgetting to breathe.

The story is revealed as Dee, the Scottish nanny, is interviewed by the police about the disappearance of the child she cares for. Felicity is selectively mute, following the death of her mother. Bereaved and bullied, she cannot speak to her stepmother or at school. In fact, other than a few words to her father, Felicity speaks to no one, until she senses a kindred spirit in Dee. But Dee has secrets of her own. Ones that would come to light if any of the desperate parents who employed her ever bothered to run a police check.

And then there is Linklater, employed to write a history of the house the family occupies in Oxford. For some reason, although Felicity is terrified by the ghosts that inhabit her room, she is captivated by his ghost tours through the graveyards and streets of Oxford.

This is such an atmospheric read, both in setting and character. I was appalled by the 'absolutely horrible' and 'narcissistic' parents this poor child had, and totally captivated by the story that unfolded. We learn a little of the history of Oxford, a little about mathematics, and there are frequent literary references and a few musical ones.

I had an inkling of an idea as to what had happened to Felicity but we are held in suspense until almost the end.

I had previously read The Other Child by this author, but now I will also be reading her other two novels.


#MagpieLane #NetGalley

'Even in something as apparently concrete as maths, things can be right and wrong at the same time.'

THE AUTHOR: Lucy Atkins is an award-winning author, Sunday Times book critic and journalist. Her new novel, Magpie Lane, is a literary thriller narrated by the nanny of a missing girl, and set in an Oxford College. Her other novels are The Night Visitor, The Other Child and The Missing One.

Lucy reviews books for The Sunday Times and has written for newspapers such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, the T.L.S, and many magazines. She has also written several non fiction books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of Magpie Lane for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage sandysbookaday.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Michelle .
881 reviews1,285 followers
June 22, 2021
This is now my second book by Lucy Atkins and I have to say that I really enjoy her storytelling. Magpie Lane and The Night Visitor are both worthwhile reads.

The book begins with Dee, a nanny, being interviewed by the police in the disappearance of Felicity who is the daughter that was in her care. Felicity has selective mutism since her mother passed away 4 years previous. She has never uttered one word to her stepmother Mariah in all that time. She will only speak to Nick, her neglectful father, until Dee enters the picture. Dee provides Felicity with a semblance of comfort and safety since neither Mariah nor Nick seem to care about her so in time she begins to speak to Dee. When Mariah finds out that she is expecting a baby Dee fears that Felicity will be even more neglected than she already is and she will stop at nothing to protect her.

I was glued to the pages of this one. I love, love, love reading police interviews and this one is very well done. The characters were fleshed out beautifully making them easy to visualize. My heart went out to Dee and Felicity. Dee herself is a very caring and capable woman but she hasn't ever fit in with her peers. She solves math problems for fun and tends to keep to herself after a traumatic past. Felicity for obvious reasons as her father and stepmother are both selfish twits. Some of the math talk did fly right over my head but I knew it's what made Dee tick so it didn't bother me much even if I had no clue what the heck she was talking about. The ending was satisfying but also left somewhat open so do keep that in mind if you decide to read this. Which you should. There is just something about Atkin's writing that I find addicting and I will be first in line for whatever she writes next! 4 stars!
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,129 reviews30.3k followers
February 15, 2021
Oh, hello! I loved this book! Of course I love a Gothic house, and this “Master’s Lodging” is old and creepy!

An 8 year old girl, Felicity, is missing, and the police look to her Scottish nanny, Dee, for the answers. The family is dysfunctional, and it’s hard to know who is reliable and telling the truth. I loved the Oxford setting! I’m not sure I’ve read a book set there before, and I could visualize the sights and sounds and history.

This book is so very good. Lucy Atkins knows how to build suspense and keep the reader guessing. So much atmosphere. So much tension. Perfectly paced in a slower, ratcheting up manner. The dialogue is clever and moves the plot forward. I just loved everything about this one, and it smacked me with its effortlessness.

I received a gifted copy.

Many of my reviews can be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com and instagram: www.instagram.com/tarheelreader
Profile Image for Sharon Bolton.
Author 43 books3,937 followers
April 30, 2021
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, in fact Magpie Lane could be my book of the year. Yes, I know it’s only the first of May, but this haunting tale of family life among the privileged cloisters of Oxford academia will be tough to beat.

Eight-year-old Felicity is missing, and suspicion falls upon her middle-aged Scottish nanny, Dee, a secretive, prickly character whom we only get to know slowly (and whom we never quite trust, but maybe that’s just me.) To say Felicity has issues is putting it mildly; mourning the loss of her mother, frightened by the strange old house, she’s a selective mute, physically incapable of speaking to all but a select few. Her high-achieving father and glamorous Scandinavian stepmother seem oblivious to her pain, leaving her to rely increasingly upon Dee, who responds in turn to the lonely lost little girl.

And then Felicity is really lost. A frantic police hunt ensues. The narrative alternates between Dee in police custody, interviewed by increasingly suspicious officers, and fending off her employers’ accusations (which seem outlandish, but are they?) and flashbacks when we learn more about Dee’s life with this dysfunctional and disturbing family.

I am in awe of how Lucy Atkins writes about Oxford. I know to my cost how hard it is to set a novel in so famous a city, but Lucy gets under its skin, revealing its dark and haunting secrets; she shows us an Oxford beneath the surface. This book toys with the Gothic, but with a very light touch, the creepiness is subtle, the sense of dread so cleverly woven into the day-to-day narrative that we hardly notice until we find ourselves terrified.

I’m a couple of chapters away from finishing as I write this and hardly dare go on. I so much want it to end well for Dee, Felicity (and Linklater, the weirdest love-interest ever) but don’t see how it possibly can. Whatever happens, though, I know I’m in safe hands. Lucy Atkins is an astonishing story-teller.
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,754 reviews1,617 followers
April 4, 2020
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Felicity is eight years old. Her dad, nick is an Oxford college master and her stepmother, Mariah is a designer. They hire Dee to be Felicity's nanny. Felicity is a selective mute. But now Felicity has disappeared.

This is another story about a dysfunctional family. The story is told from Dee's point of view. It's action packed, tense and a bit creepy. We are told the story police interview and the events that took place over the months leading up to Felicity's disappearance. It's also a story you can't say too much about incase you spoil it for potential readers. There is quite an interesting twist towards the end. An interesting read.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author Lucy Atkins for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Alwynne.
587 reviews601 followers
July 11, 2021
I was looking for a well-written, escapist novel and to a certain extent this fitted the bill. The prose style's not bad and the storyline owes a definite debt to classics like The Turn of the Screw with its unreliable narrator who becomes the nanny to a traumatised, small child who may or may not be haunted by something supernatural. It’s a fairly atmospheric piece, set in an idealised Oxford, and littered with the kinds of references designed to suggest something unsettling or macabre’s lurking behind the scenes, although most of these references lean towards the stock: animal bones, hexes, graveyards, a house with a disturbing history. But the portrayal of the two women central to the narrative, the nanny and the child’s stepmother, made me very uncomfortable. Everything’s told from the nanny’s perspective and there seemed to be two possible explanations for what’s actually going on here: either the nanny’s deliberately deceptive and/or self-deceiving, in which case she’s a stereotypically unstable, single, middle-aged woman OR the nanny’s telling the truth and the stepmother’s a self-centred, manipulative, hysterical liar. Both possibilities reek of misogyny. That, and the addition of an unlikely love story, and an equally unlikely, unsatisfying conclusion made this a disappointing, profoundly irritating read.
Profile Image for Sue.
2,691 reviews170 followers
July 25, 2020
Yep 5 beautiful stars from me. 💓💓💓💓💓

What can I say.
Lucy Atkins is such a prolific author and knows just what her readers need to keep their attention.

The build up in this is slowly awesome with brick by brick laying a foundation that’s firm to climb onto and the higher it goes the less you breath.

It’s atmospheric and yields such a cobweb around you that you just don’t notice you are caught in that web. Nowhere to go until you satisfy your hunger and devour each page.

Can’t you tell I loved it😁
Profile Image for Susan.
2,644 reviews598 followers
March 1, 2020
This is the first book I have read by Lucy Atkins, but I am certain that I will be reading more by her in future. I absolutely loved this creepy, unsettling read, set in the academic world of Oxford.

We meet main character, Dee, when she is being interviewed by the police. Nanny to eight year old Felicity, her charge has gone missing and Detectives Faraday, and Khan, believe that she knows more than she is telling. As they try to unravel Felicity’s whereabouts, we learn of Dee’s story. Her chance meeting with new College Master, Nick Law, who is moving to Oxford with Felicity, the child from his first marriage, and new wife, Mariah.

As the reader, we are unsure whether Dee is an unreliable narrator. Her secrets are, slowly revealed and it is obvious that she has plenty to hide. However, you cannot help admiring her direct and emotional response to Felicity – an obviously troubled child, who is selectively mute after her mother’s death. Mariah, much younger than her husband, and pregnant; obsessed with her business restoring wallpaper (Dee’s obvious distain for this calling made me smile) and Nick’s attempts to make his mark in his new role – having previously worked for the BBC and the Oxford intelligentsia distaining his celebrity friends, lead to Felicity being left almost exclusively in Dee’s care.

When Dr Linklater, a House Detective, comes into their lives, he begins to unearth secrets about the house’s past. Who lived there before and do they have anything to do with the secret Priest’s Hole, which seems to obsess the young girl living there now? Felicity adores Linklater, who gives eccentric tours of Oxford’s graveyards and is delightfully vague. As he befriends Dee and Felicity, the reader wonders what really happened to Felicity and who is responsible for her disappearance. Loved the atmosphere of this novel and the academic setting, seen from the interesting perspective of Dee, who is both outsider and intimate.
Profile Image for Heidi.
1,038 reviews213 followers
February 24, 2020
Let me introduce you to my second 5-star read for 2020 – TA DA! MAGPIE LANE was like my own personal formula for reading bliss. A nanny in an old spooky English manor house in Oxford. Family secrets. A disturbed child who may or may not have some connection to the weird noises and shadows flitting about in the house at night. Characters who ALL have something to hide. All the very things I just LOVE in a mystery!

Dee is a middle-aged woman with some secrets in her past that have seen her live a life looking after other people’s children. She has stayed with many different families and cared for children of all ages and backgrounds, but none has ever got under her skin the same way Felicity has, this pale, mute and unhappy daughter of Oxford’s latest Don.

I immediately loved Dee, from the very moment she shares her self-deprecating humour:

“It may be my functional approach to fashion, but people seem to assume that I’m in charge.”

The picture was painted. A somewhat plain but keenly intelligent middle-aged woman wearing drab clothes to roam the grey streets of a wintry Oxford, wielding an umbrella. I soon realised that I, too, had misjudged her, because Dee was not only smart, but also fiercely loyal to her latest little charge. Not an easy job when you are pitted against Felicity’s father, the arrogant Nick, and her trendy Danish stepmother Mariah.

It wasn’t long until the plot thickened. Nick and Mariah have a dark secret they are determined to keep hidden. Felicity is traumatised. The house, too, has secrets it divulges only at night, in its moving shadows, its silent whispers, its doors that open and close at random, and the spooky little priest hole in the attic where a rotten smell seems to linger. Even Oxford itself, described as: ...a place of dust motes, vaults and arm-span alleys, of angle-poised lamps and dimmer switches, of creaking floorboards and whispers in oak-panelled libraries.” You can see why this was totally irresistible for me! If you are not a fan of the supernatural, don’t despair, because Atkin is always willing to give a perfectly rational explanation for all the things that spooked hell out of me.

Let’s also talk briefly about the unique POV the story is told in. Dee, the nanny, is being interviewed by police who are trying to establish the whereabouts of Felicity, Dee’s young charge, who has disappeared from the house whilst Dee was in London and the girl was in the care of her stepmother. As Dee tells the story of how she came to be the nanny, the full picture slowly emerges in flashbacks and confessions until .... well, that’s something you have to find out for yourself.

I really can’t divulge any more without giving things away, so let me just say that this book was a perfect for me. If you like an atmospheric setting, a creepy mystery and characters that are as mysterious as the setting itself, then you can’t go wrong with this one. Good spooky mysteries are hard to find, and it doesn’t get any better than this. I look forward to reading all the author’s previous books now!

Thank you to Netgalley and Quercus Books for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

*blog* *facebook* *instagram*
Profile Image for Katerina.
401 reviews50 followers
August 17, 2021

Με σκηνικό την Οξφόρδη και τις ενδιαφέροντες προσωπικότητες της ανά τον χρόνο εξελίσσεται μια οικογενειακή ιστορία με αρκετές δόσεις μυστηρίου, δράμα, χιούμορ, τρυφερότητα και διάφορα είδη αγάπης που σε κάθε αναγνώστη θα δημιουργήσει και διαφορετικά συναισθήματα, αντιδράσεις και προσδοκίες!

Οι χαρακτήρες ισορροπούν σε μία γκρίζα ζώνη μεταξύ σωστού και λάθους και στο τέλος ο αναγνώστης καλείται σύμφωνα με το δικό του ήθος και αίσθημα περί δικαιοσύνης να επιλέξει την πορεία των ηρώων!

Μέσω της πρωταγωνίστριας αλλά και του παιδιού που προσέχει καθώς και ενός άντρα που γνωρίζουν στη πορεία κατανοούμε δεσμούς που μπορούν να δημιουργηθούν ανάμεσα σε ανθρώπους που δεν ταιριάζουν πουθενά η με κάποιους άλλους αλλά ταιριάζουν μεταξύ τους!

Μου κράτησε αμείωτο το ενδιαφέρον παρότι όχι καθαρά αστυνομικό και θεωρώ πως αξίζει να διαβαστεί!
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,754 reviews1,617 followers
April 4, 2020
3.5 stars rounded up to 4

Felicity is eight years old. Her dad, Nick is an Oxford college master and her stepmother, Mariah is a designer. They hire Dee to be Felicity's nanny. Felicity is a selective mute. But now Felicity has disappeared.

This is another story about a dysfunctional family. The story is told from Dee's point of view. It's action packed, tense and a bit creepy. We are told the story through the police interview and the events that took place over the months leadingupto Felicity's disappearance. It's also a story you can't say too much about incase you spoil it for potential readers. There is quite an interesting twist towards the end. An interesting read.
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,430 reviews997 followers
April 12, 2020
Magpie Lane was a brilliantly atmospheric read, set in and around Oxford, my personal stomping ground which made it all the more delightful.

The character voice of the novel's unreliable narrator is pitch perfect as she tells the tale of the strangely disconnected family she works for, the emotionally damaged mute child she cares for and her absolute innocence in the disappearance of that child. This is a twisted tale indeed but a very real one- events seen through a glass darkly and an unpredictable storyline.

Truly excellent. Great writing great plotting, strong central characters and emotionally charged themes all adding up to an addictive, thought provoking read with a fantastic sense of place.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
1,133 reviews41 followers
June 23, 2020

Throughout reading Magpie Lane, I was constantly shocked that I wasn't reading something from Victorian England. The Oxford manor house setting made me feel like our main character was meant to be wearing gowns, not pulling a Nokia out of her pocket! I think the gothic eeriness would have been intensified had it been set 100 years ago, which would ultimately have led to a much higher level of enjoyment.

Magpie Lane was predictable from the start and, while this can occasionally be a good thing, it didn't work in the book's favour this time. It was easy to predict every step she'd take, everything she'd say, and the conclusion was something you saw coming before you even finished the first chapter. Atkins threw a lot of red herrings into the mix that were meant to throw readers off the scent, but they didn't quite feel substantial enough.

Atkins also provides readers with a mediocre selection of characters, none of whom helped to redeem the mediocre plot. Had they been more interesting and led larger lives than they were given, this book could perhaps have received a higher rating for having characters to whom we could either relate or feel closer to. However, they were all cold, distant and unreliable, which meant that I personally didn't care much for any of them.

Magpie Lane was not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I think it could be a good read for people who are new to the thriller genre and want something a little less twisty and more straightforward.

Thank you to Quercus for sending me a copy of Magpie Lane in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for ~ Becs ~.
709 reviews2,119 followers
July 5, 2020
Well, this was just a fabulous, sumptuous, utterly compelling read. Beautifully written and meticulously layered, I found myself unable to put this down, compelled ever onwards to find out what was really happening here.

Set amongst the dreaming spires of Oxford and it’s self-important academia, steeped in tradition and ritual, Lucy Atkins leads us along a twisted path of creaking floorboards, secret passageways, priest holes and hidden cemeteries and at the centre of it all is a traumatised, almost mute child. Who is now missing.

The story is largely told by the nanny to that child and it’s up to the reader to decide whether she’s a truthful narrator and attempt to piece together what actually happened that fateful night.

The novel has a darkly gothic feel to it with the fabulous imagery all adding to a generally spooky and creepy atmosphere - almost like a Daphne du Maurier Classic. The characters were fabulously drawn and the one that lived most vividly in my imagination was that of Linklater, the chaotic yet enigmatic house historian.

I picked this up as a 99p Kindle deal and now I intend to read this author’s previous novels. Lucy Atkins was new to me a few days ago but now she’s right at the top of my auto-buy list. Can’t wait to see what her imaginations brings is next

5 fabulously creepy stars
Profile Image for Janelle Janson.
709 reviews438 followers
January 24, 2021
(special thanks to @mobius_books for the free copy)

MAGPIE LANE by Lucy Atkins is a slow-building mystery full of suspense and intrigue! Atmospheric is an understatement, as Atkins weaves a superb mystery around the Law family, their nanny, and an eccentric old house.

Nick Law is the newest hire at Oxford University. He remarried after his previous wife died four years ago. His eight-year-old daughter, Felicity, has not spoken since the death of her mother. His current wife, Mariah, is pregnant and was happy to see her husband found Dee, the new nanny from Scotland. Nick met Dee by chance and she’s been invaluable to them. Suddenly, Felicity goes missing and the police are forced to investigate, which uncover secrets and a sinister past.

MAGPIE LINE is brilliantly written. It took me almost half the book before I knew how I felt about it, but guess what?...it’s worth every page. I should’ve known better because I devoured Atkins’ previous novel, THE NIGHT VISITOR.

The story starts off with a police interview with Dee, and the story itself is told solely from Dee’s perspective as she recounts what happened with Felicity. The characterization is remarkable as I could hear their voice and picture the setting as if I was there. I enjoyed learning about Dee the most and specifically loved the style in which the story was told. As I was reading through the months leading up to the disappearance, I obsessively had to know how it ended.

MAGPIE LANE is an intelligent and cleverly written mystery with no shortage of family dysfunction, first-rate dialogue, tension, secrets, and general creepiness.

✨ What are you reading this weekend? ✨
Profile Image for ABCme.
319 reviews28 followers
January 25, 2020
With a lot of experience under her belt, Dee thought she had seen it all. When Oxford college master Nick and his designer wife Mariah hire her to be the nanny for their eight year old girl Felicity, she agrees to the temporary assignment.
Felicity is selectively mute, bereaved by the loss of her birthmother and being bullied at school.
Then one day she disappears.
The story alternates between police station and the family home, the tension is palpable. Both are confined spaces that keep the reader struggling for air.
Meanwhile there's Linklater researching the history of the house and many terrible events float to the surface.

Magpie Lane is a captivating fast paced psychological thriller. Nick and Mariah are incredibly lousy parents, who prefer their careers over their daughter. The neglect is disturbing. Dee's effort to give the girl the love she deserves seems to pay off, until the disappearance that is, and no one is any wiser what really happened right up to the epilogue.
A strange and quick ending that nevertheless gives the reader quite a bit of food for thought.

Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Books for the ARC.
Profile Image for Marlene Sofia.
71 reviews25 followers
January 19, 2022
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,034 reviews1,421 followers
October 28, 2021
Dee is the new Scottish nanny to the mute daughter of an Oxford College Master. Nick is a respected figure in academic circles and his Danish wife, Mariah, completes the picture-perfect home life he attempts to portray to his peers. His daughter Felicity, however, is the reminder of his previous marriage, with her nightmares and reluctance to speak never allowing anyone to forget the ghost of her mother that seems to linger around her.

One night Felicity disappears and this wealthy couple are eager to point fingers at Dee. She, however, has unearthed facts about this small family that prove you can never really know what occurs behind closed doors, and what the little eyes and ears inside them will also discover too.

I loved how Atkins constructed this novel. There were few places to pause as each chapter ending had me eager to learn more, without becoming repetitive with too many cliff-hanger endings.
Segments from Dee's life with this family, including how she gained her job role, how she spent her days, and the sinister discoveries made inside the home, were intersected with present-day sections, as she was interviewed by the police after little Felicity's disappearance.

This was a truly twisted read, which I inhaled in one sitting. It did not feature much of a focus on the academic setting or the particulars of life in Oxford, as I was hoping, and was instead almost exclusively focused on domestic life. I soon got over this minor disappointment as the chilling storyline began to unfurl and I became as invested in discovering Felicity's present location as I was in what occurred long before it, to make her such an outcast figure inside her own home.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,431 reviews2,512 followers
November 25, 2019
I loved Atkins' The Night Visitor but this one sort of fizzled out on me. There are lots of Gothic trappings but they're not really relevant to the actual story. To warm to this story you really need to engage with 8 year old Felicity, and child characters are never my favourite. Structurally, this is essentially a long police interview with the nanny, Dee, when Felicity disappears, and her short answers to the police are followed by her memories, thoughts, and wanderings so that the tale appears in the interstices. It's not especially complicated and I found it rather transparent which is disappointing. Atkins' writing is fluent and she has a quirky approach to plotting that I like. This one didn't work over well for me but I'd still look out for what she does next.
Profile Image for Kirsten .
255 reviews94 followers
May 27, 2021
I started out with 5 stars, but now I have had time to think about it, I don't really like the ending, not realistic to me and as this by far presents itself as a realistic novel, I'm not happy about it. But still I loved the descriptions of Oxford, the nerdy main character and her being a mathematic genius. And the priesthole and the other characters, Nick and Maria, especially Maria, so fascinating, loved the way Maria expressed herself, now that she was a Dane, that OMG all the time made her sound like a naive teenager. Not sure the narrator got the Danish accent right, but as so very few people know and speak the Danish language I am not going to complain about that.
Profile Image for LenaRibka.
1,428 reviews416 followers
July 16, 2020

Very refreshing and clever, a compelling plot, beautifully written, unputdownable. (and so nicely British!😍)

I run through all possible emotions while guessing.
A well done audiobook. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Sonia Cristina.
1,838 reviews53 followers
December 26, 2020
2,5 estrelas
O que me atraiu primeiro para este livro foi o Oxford no título, que me faz sempre lembrar a série de tv Lewis, que me fez sentir tão cativada por esta cidade. A sinopse prometia também um bom mistério, mas não cumpriu. Achei Fantasmas de Oxford enfadonho, desinteressante, confuso com as partes do presente (sempre curtíssimas) e do passado. As descrições do mundo académico de Oxford, tão snobe, cheio de personagens presunçosas, abalaram-me o fascínio que sentia por esta cidade. As únicas partes que apreciei foram as com o personagem Linklater, que se perdia em milhentos de pensamentos simultâneos e dizia pequenos factos que achei muito interessantes sobre pessoas ligadas ao mundo literário que passaram por Oxford ou mesmo sobre lugares na cidade.

O final, pelo menos, foi bom e o que eu já esperava que fosse.
Profile Image for Angie.
6 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2020
3.5 stars.
Magpie Lane is highly praised by press and authors as a "gripping pageturner"; as the "thriller of the year 2020". However, to my mind, it is just an okay book: not particularly good, but not particularly bad either.
The story follows nanny Dee's account of events after the disappearance of eight year old Felicity, her charge. By way of flashbacks, the reader learns about the dysfunctional familiy of Oxford Master Nick Law, Felicity's father, and his beautiful second wife Mariah. Both are too busy with their careers to look after the traumatised and selectively mute child. Only Dee manages to gain her trust and understands her often unusual behaviour, until one day, Felicity disappears without a trace.
What I like about this book is the way in which Lucy Atkins, on the surface (!) created a modern day (but essentially Victorian) Gothic horror/mystery, complete with an old house, strange goings-on at night and a dash of the occult. I also enjoyed all the passages on Oxford, its history and social structures. Anyone with a penchant for British culture - like me - will surely love those.
Yet, all in all, I did not find this book particularly thrilling or gripping. Much of the "creepy" elements do not have a real connection to the story or the big revelation at the end. The writing is good, but the plot is very predictable. I was expecting there to be more of a focus on the mystery, rather than an investigation into the psychological issues of a troubled family. The weakest point of the book, for me, is the Epilogue: the conclusion of the story does not come as a real surprise, yet at the same time, it is highly unrealistic and distinctly fictional.
Profile Image for QHuong(BookSpy).
688 reviews454 followers
March 15, 2021

Excuse me, this book has the average rating of 4.05?? Wow, guess I’m not in the majority.

This book is not a thriller. It is a narration of a troubled woman who is obsessed about nannying her charge.

It is a deep dive into the mind of mentally unstable woman who has a dark past.

Okay, Dee is not really mentally ill. But her voice sounds so rational, too rational, in fact. There is the devoid of emotion that disturbs me. Clearly, she cares a lot for Felicity, the traumatized girl that she has to take care of. Throughout the book, it seems like she is an unreliable narrator and I can’t trust a word she says. She is too detached, too cold - also, sounds old. A loner, lost in this world, never feels belonged.

This book is slowly paced as we follow Dee’s story as a nanny working for the College Master’s family. The parents seem neglecting and distant. They are not understanding. Sounds like it. Dee doesn’t think they are a good fit for Felicity. Felicity deserves better. But I feel Dee’s behaviors are also out of line and not appropriate. Dee tries to depict the parents as evil, but she sounds evil too. In a cold manner. I don’t think Dee is good at nannying, considering some of her decisions about Felicity. There is some creepiness in Dee. Who would want to hire her if not really desperate?

In a good way, the setting is decent. Gothic, creepy, haunting... a bit dark academia too, as it is set in Oxford, and we have this house detective guy who is really into weird history, making this book a bit brighter, but also, scarier. Mix of spook and uncertainty works well.

Profile Image for Shalini.
2,510 reviews199 followers
June 14, 2020
Wow... Another different read with a novel style of writing which started with a police interview. A missing child plot always get to me.

Felicity disappeared and nanny Dee was the suspect.

My first book by this author, I was quite pulled in by the secrets revealed as the nanny looked back on all that she had learned about the family.

Subplots layered up as the investigation fired up. The writing kept the mystery alive right till the end.

Overall, a fun read
Profile Image for C.L. Taylor.
Author 31 books2,749 followers
October 4, 2020
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins is beautifully crafted with sensational characterisation and a vivid sense of place (Oxford). Three lonely people's lives collide in a tale that is as creepy and suspenseful as it is heart-warming and hopeful. Loved it.
Profile Image for Jo Spain.
Author 18 books886 followers
June 25, 2020
Love this book. Really sinister fell throughout, and beautifully written.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,054 reviews
May 22, 2021
– what if she just went out the front door and someone found her there – it’s so dark down Magpie Lane –
Profile Image for Cat.
792 reviews125 followers
July 3, 2021
I was honestly expecting more from this book, what with the promising synopsis and average rating of over four stars here on Goodreads.

But the story failed to excite me. There was even a moment, within the five last chapters, that I felt my reading pace speed up, just because I wanted to know what had happened and be done with it.

I also felt that this was a bit hard to like with such a bunch of unlikeable characters. With the obvious exceptions of Felicity and perhaps Linklater, the whole cast was just bad. It’s possible that with a couple more nice and interesting characters, the story could be more enjoyable.

I had never read anything from Lucy Atkins and now I’m not really sure if this will be the first and last of her books I’ll ever read.
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