The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor

When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her grandfather’s bookshop she finds herself pulled into the mystery within its pages. Her grandmother has been placed in a home and her memory is disappearing rapidly, but once in a while she is just lucid enough to feed the fires of Olivia’s curiosity.

Decades earlier, two young girls create a sensation when they capture photos of fairies near a brook in the local woods. Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright were two young girls who became famous overnight. News of their fantastic photos, seen as evidence of the existence of fairies, reached all edges of the world and even attracted famous figures such as Arthur Conan Doyle.

Olivia Kavanagh holds the key to the answers, if she can only solve the riddle. How was her grandmother involved with the girls at Cottingley? Who put together the manuscript in her grandfather’s book shop?

Finding the answers suddenly becomes a quest for Olivia to find herself and her own place in the world, both fantastical and otherwise.

The Cottingley Secret, by Hazel Gaynor, is a novel for history fans and mystery lovers. If you liked Hazel Gaynor’s other works (I know I did), or if you like authors like Kate Morton or Kimberley Freeman, then definitely give The Cottingley Secret a try.

The Taste of Appleseeds by Katharina Hagena


Originally entitled “Der Gerschmack von Apfelkernen”, this novel has been translated into English from German, and has already been a literary success in Europe, translated into numerous languages and made into a German film (which I’m dying to get my hands on).

The story revolves around Iris, a woman who inherits her grandmother’s home upon her death and is forced to face some of the secrets of her family and her past. Her grandparents both had deep, dark secrets hidden in the walls that don’t tell tales. Tragedy struck more than once in the little home, more than one daughter was lost. Iris decides to speak with the man who has been tending the home, and with the lawyer representing the property (who is conveniently handsome) and see if she can put together the pieces left behind for her.

The Taste of Appleseeds, by Katharina Hagena, is a must-read for readers who love Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, the House at Riverton) , Katherine Webb (The Unseen, The Half-Forgotten Song) , or Kimberley Freeman  (Wildflower Hill, Lighthouse Bay, Ember Island). What makes the novel original is that it has a touch of magical realism, faint but there nonetheless, which gives the story something special that you magical realism readers will love too.

Anyone who knows me well enough to judge can tell you that these types of novels are my very favorite. Long, delving back through generations, deep and dark family secrets, beautiful description and an almost magical feel, and a heroine who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery at any cost…LOVE them. They aren’t for readers who want instant gratification or a short weekend read, but for patient readers who like to take a more languid path once in a while. If this sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to read The Taste of Appleseeds…And if any of you can figure out how to get any version of the movie available here in the states be sure to let me know!

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson

Hollywood music composer Chris Lowndes has just bought a home in the Yorkshire Dales with a very creepy history. A famous murderess allegedly killed her husband in his new office. Death by poison. The portraits of the home’s old inhabitants still cover the walls of the large old home, and Chris finds himself enthralled by the mystery. He begins to ask questions of the townspeople about the Fox family, and begins to wonder if Grace Fox was hanged wrongfully when he learns that there is just no real concrete evidence or motive, aside from the fact that the beautiful matron was having an affair with an artist half her age. The composer is swept up in the details of the beguiling woman’s woeful story to the brink of obsession…and what he finds out is more horrifying than anything anyone could possibly imagine.

Fans of Kate Morton (The Distant Hours, The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden) and Kimberley Freeman (Wildflower Hill) will LOVE Peter Robinson’s Before the Poison, which travels through the past and present, tracing Grace Fox’s life serving as a nurse in the war throughout Chris Lowndes’ quest for the truth.

Peter Robinson is also well-known for his Inspector Banks Mystery Series, if you find that you like his style of writing and want to get a taste of something else he has written you should give the series a try.

Look for Before the Poison today-but only if you think you can “stomach” it!

‘The Unseen’ by Katherine Webb will keep you reading deep into the night

A house maid with a dark past, a marriage with a painful secret, and a conniving houseguest make for a twisted tale that keeps you guessing until the bitter and shocking end. Cat Morley is recruited to live with the vicar and his wife and serve them as an employee, and the goings-on of the house from the moment she arrives are enough to make a person dizzy. Albert, the vicar, spends most of his spare time wandering alone in the woods looking for “spirits”, the housekeeper seems to want her fired, and the halls of the house seem to whisper secrets that are just out of hearing.

When reknowned “theosopher” Robin Durrant comes to stay in the house as a very long-term houseguest, tensions begin to rise for everyone under the roof, including the staff. Who is this man and what are his intentions? Can he really be serious about the “spiritual beings” he claims to see in the woods? Can Albert, a holy man, really be taken in by Robin’s ridiculous philosophy and “scientific” ideals? Hester, Albert’s wife, can see the water rising, but can’t seem to open her husband’s eyes to the swamp of deceit that is welling up around them.

Almost a hundred years later, Leah is a journalist who sets out to identify remains discovered on an old World War I battle site. Letters from a woman to the soldier are all that she has to go by as she begins her search for the truth. What is the secret of the Rectory that has been buried for so many decades? Who is the dead soldier, and what are his connections to the woman in the letter? Was there a scandal covered up all those years ago? As the truth is slowly unearthed, Leah finds herself growing closer and closer to the great-great-grandson of Hester and Albert Canning. But what happens when her ex shows up and wants her back in his life?

This tale skips between the past and the present with a gloomy, intense style very similar to Kate Morton (The Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton) and Kimberley Freeman (Wildflower Hill)-full of mystery and deep, dark family secrets. If you enjoy this type of literature,  you will not want to miss Katherine Webb’s The Unseen“, and you may find that her other works tickle your fancy, as well.