The author of The Thirteenth Tale and Bellman & Black returns and delivers not only her best book but one of the best novels I have read. So good in fact I had to slip it into my Books of the Year list despite it already being finalized and posted! The Thirteenth Tale was a cross between Kate Morton and The Shadow in the Wind. Bellman & Black was a Neil Gaiman-esque ghost story. Once Upon a River goes up another level entirely. The best way to describe it is think Neil Gaiman meets The Light Between Oceans as Diane Setterfield weaves together the lives, stories and mythology that exist along the River Thames to tell a tale that will live long in your heart after you finish reading.
Set in the 1800s the book follows the people who live along the river and how they are all entwined by the river as it connects their lives, their histories and their stories all together. When a young girl is found half-drowned nobody knows who she is and who she belongs to. When three different families come forward to claim her the mystery only deepens.
This is one of those rare books that has a little bit of everything; intrigue, mystery, a love story and the hint of something magical. It is an absolute joy to read and get lost in. As you get closer to the end of the book you are dying to find out what happens but at the same time you don’t want the book to finish. This is a book to treasure and book to share.