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The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby


The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
UK Publication Date: 29th October 2020
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

his ARC was provided by HQ (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Prepare to be transported to a place where nothing is what it seems.

Synopsis from Goodreads: Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

My Thoughts: I wanted to love this book than I did and while the first 90% held me spellbound I felt the last 10% could have been condensed or done away with altogether the story felt like it carried on after the logical ending point had been reached.

Warning to readers like the best fairy-tales this story is dark, there are things hidden from view and of course the main characters must face tests, challenges and grief.

So what did I love about the book? The opening paragraph. Read the below and then tell me you don’t want to know more…

“You probably know me: I’m the Kemp Treasure Girl. Maybe you had the books as a child. Perhaps your dad read them to you in those wilting hours of sleep where books become dreams and dreams become books. Did you look for the treasure, digging in your garden unsure of what you were searching for?”

The writing is beautiful:

“But the beginnings of a friendship are like the beginning of a book: you never know how they will turn out until the very end.”

The description of the picture books. The books within this book were so well described I wished they were real that I could look at the pictures, find the hidden words and spot the secret images on each page. The magical feel was completely captivating and there was a circus! What more do you need in a fairy-tale? How about an escaped panther? Yep we have one of those as well.

The setting. Braer is an ancient farmhouse complete with moat, it is remote from the local village and as you would expect has a lot of land. The nature of the house and location means the fairy-tale aspects are made believable it also allows for Romilly to run wild and for things to fall apart with no-one noticing.

The book also looks at different issues affecting mental health and how these impact people in different ways. It provided an interesting insight into the thought processes of the central characters. This aspect of the book also allowed for there to be question marks about certain events allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Who would like this? If you enjoy fairy-tales in all their dark glory this could be a winner for you.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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