Author: Katherine Stansfield
Finished on: 11 November 2019
Where did I get this book: A kindle read
One of the best things about being a bookworm is when I find myself reading exactly the right book at exactly the right time.
On average I read a book a week and learn at least something from most of them. But, once in a while, it goes beyond this and the great cosmic librarian in the sky hands me the perfect book I need to read in that moment.
Falling Creatures was just such a book for me. Set in 1844, this is a historical crime novel that flirts with supernatural elements. In other words, this is a book that doesn’t fit in a box.
There can be a lot of pressure on aspiring authors to write a book that fits neatly into a genre category. Is it crime? Is it historical? Is it fantasy? This is the dilemma I’ve been struggling with in my own project recently – but here comes Stansfield with a book that shows you can do it all. And do it well.
Our narrator Shilly is a superstitious young woman madly in love with her fellow servant, the beautiful Charlotte, who entrances everyone she meets. Everyone except their employer, Mrs Peters, that is. And it turns out Charlotte’s ability to bewitch runs beyond the power of her looks alone – Shilly finds herself assisting in performing strange rituals, communing with familiars… it’s beginning to feel a lot like witchcraft.
Stansfield convincingly conveys the early Victorian sensibilities and attitudes in the remote Cornish rural setting. The responses of local people to Charlotte, running from passionate admiration to suspicion and fear, and often all of the above simultaneously, feel authentic. There is an inevitability in it leading to a big juicy murder.
I recently spent an awesome four days on a crime course at Tŷ Newydd, the creative writing retreat in North Wales, and Stansfield was one of my tutors. While it’s true that I didn’t have to fight the urge to cry or declare my love for her – as I did at my last writing retreat – I can confirm that she was a thoroughly lovely person and a superb teacher.
So you can rest assured that, if you treat yourself to a copy of Falling Creatures, not only will you be grabbing yourself a brilliant read, you’ll be supporting one of the good guys.