Thursday 20 February 2020

Upcoming release: The House of Hidden Wonders by Sharon Gosling

Stripes Publishing: The House of Hidden Wonders

Release date: 2 April 2020, Stripes Publishing


The standard of middle grade publications available on the UK market is currently sensational and this up and coming novel by Sharon Gosling, author of The Diamond Thief had me hooked within the first few pages.
Set in the murky depths of 19th century Edinburgh, Gosling weaves a heart-wrenching story of three street sisters struggling to survive in the harshest of conditions. Soon their turmoil leads them into a world of mysterious criminal activity, ghosts and subterfuge with doses of deadly danger.
Gosling wows with strength of character and plot. Zinnie, the eldest of the three sisters, is sharp and loveable. Her desire to accept and protect those who have become her kin is endearing and the lengths she is prepared to go to save them is beyond brave. Aided by a posse of well-written and likeable adult characters- Arthur Conan Doyle, Lady Sarah Montague and Doctor Sophia Jex-Blake- who assist without patronising, Zinnie may have the chance she needs to solve the mystery of the house of hidden wonders.
I loved that the story was set in Edinburgh rather than London. The city had incredible character as a setting and had been clearly well-researched. Fact intermingled with fiction through the history of Edinburgh and through characters who had a firm footing in reality (Arthur Conan Doyle and Dr. Jex-Blake). This made for an intriguing and powerful read. There was oodles of girl power; from Zinnie and her sisters to the ground-breaking female doctor to the explorer to adorable Aelfine and her monkey and this made for a wonderful, heart-swelling end to the novel. Occasionally, the exchanges of dialogue felt a little long and there could have been an extra twist or two concerning the villain. However, with the focus firmly on Zinnie's difficult journey through the grim underworld, it was impossible not to become fully immersed in her world and her cause. I loved her straight-talking, her child-like acceptance of difference and her compassion for others so much that she will remain a memorable character for a long time to come - as will the originality and intensity of the story.
A thrilling, gripping and moving read.

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