The Story Keeper is the second novel from Anna Mazzola; following the extremely successful The Unseeing. The Story Keeper is a haunting and Gothic tale set on the isle of Skye in the mid nineteenth century. The book opens with Audrey Hart traveling to take up her new position as assistant to Miss Buchanan a local folklorist who wants to collect the tales of fairies, selkies and other beliefs and superstitions as the local area is devastated by the highland clearances. Audrey had grown up hearing the tales her mother had collected before her death. We soon learn that Audrey has run away from a harsh home life and that her mother's death remains shrouded in mystery. She has come to Skye to understand her own and her mother's past as much as to escape her present.
However almost from the beginning Audrey is thwarted by suspicious locals who refuse to tell their tales, strange noises and lights and then girls on the island begin to disappear. This is a top notch thriller full of Gothic twists and with wonderful insight into the Highland customs which were beginning to be lost in this period. Anna Mazzola has clearly done some fantastic research and I love how the thriller elements and the traditional folklore tie together. Audrey is a fantastic character and only one of a handful of strong women characters in this book trying to find their place in a restrictive society. I recommend this if like me the phrases Scottish island or Victorian mystery is enough to get you running to the bookshop. Perfect for fans of Lisa Tuttle or Diana Bretherick
The Story Keeper is published by Tinder Press in hardback in July. Thanks so much to the author and Jenni Leech at Tinder for sending me an early proof copy.