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My final children's book review of 2021 and saving one of my favourite authors until last... Lucy Strange writes mesmerising, hauntingly lyrical tales that tread the line between vivid, historical realism and eerily mythic, Gothic fantasy.  'Sisters of the Lost Marsh' is cut of the same cloth; tense and atmospheric, achingly raw and beautifully strange. Draw back the curtain, the veil of mist, and this is a story about family, the feminine and finding your own light in a bleak world of shadows. I really enjoyed this - Lucy Strange goes from strength to strength!

Working on a farm, Willa and her other sisters live in fear of their wicked, heartless father, who is convinced by the old superstition of the Curse of Six Daughters. The only joy Willa finds is reading the secret books with her Grammy and sneaking off to the Full Moon Fayre. But when the fayre leaves, Willa's sister Grace goes missing. Willa takes it upon herself to find her, setting off on a journey across the marshes where strange lights gleam and fever ravishes the weak...

First off, Lucy Strange's writing is utterly enchanting: poetic, unnerving, tender, wild. Through Willa's urgent and confident telling, we are plunged into a vividly realised Gothic world of marshes, mist and brooding malevolence. Strange masterfully brings to life the farmlands and mires with a dreamlike beauty; a real pleasure to read. Magic and madness circle this tale with sequences that haunt, shock and dazzle. Towards the end there's an event involving Grammy which is quite unlike anything I have read! 


I really loved the sense of superstition, of myth and magic, which literally bogs and mires everyone's lives as much as poverty and disease. But at its heart, 'Sisters of the Lost Marsh' is about inner strength, inner light, and the yearning for family love, particularly sisterhood, against the ravages of time and death. There is much sadness in this but also lots of hope. I adored Grammy and her secret trove of books!

If you haven't read a Lucy Strange book yet, why not? 'Sisters of the Lost Marsh' is probably her most accomplished middle-grade book yet and one of the best of 2021.

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