My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have a lot of love for the Bagthorpes saga by Helen Cresswell so was intrigued by this. Stonestruck sees Londoner Jessica evacuated alone to Wales to live in a castle, with only a few staff for company. It’s not long before she realises that the castle is occupied by others; a ghostly spectre, a Green Lady and a bloody terrifying peacock that only she can see.
I struggled with this. Cresswell’s a superb writer but this seemed to have a lot of space where very little happened. Once you create atmosphere, there’s a need for something to happen with it, rather than just an evolution of said atmosphere. The early part of the book in London where we see the impact of the Blitz is quite stunning. It’s tight, claustrophobic, and darkly written. But after that I struggled to become engaged in the story and frankly skipped the last few pages.
It’s clear though that regardless of the nature of this book, Cresswell writes a superb peacock, and that’s not meant to be a facetious comment. There’s something superb in being able to find the grotesque amongst the nominally beautiful, and the scenes involving the peacock are genuinely some of the most unnerving in the book.
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