Written by Sharon Gosling, Publishing 2020 by Little Tiger
I am lucky enough to have read this on Netgalley and did so on the very day it was downloaded.
Within pages I was hooked on the story of Zinnie, Sadie and Nell. I love that the story is set in Edinburgh, one of my favourite cities. Zinnie, Sadie and Nell are “sisters” living in a crowded, derelict building with dozens of others who are too poor and unable to provide for themselves, and to get out of this situation.
Running from the police in the first chapter and saving her sisters, you start to make assumptions about Zinnie. Perhaps she is a typical street urchin of the time period, stealing for money and food. However, we should never assume, for what you learn of Zinnie as you read further will amaze and impress you. She is a wonderful main character and one I truly enjoyed following throughout the story.
When she later walks into the home of Arthur Conan Doyle, the story really gets interesting. One of literature’s greats can only mean one thing- mysteries to solve! This encounter with Conan Doyle is not the first nor the last but it does open up new characters and fortuitous events for Zinnie.
My heart was hammering and I had to force myself to slow down and not skip ahead throughout much of this book. I kept wanting to peek ahead and check on the characters but must admit I enjoyed it more by devouring every single word!
Zinnie has a penchant for trouble and danger but she is incredibly quick witted and clever. We rely upon her street smarts and attention to details as the mysteries are unravelled and inter-connected. She rivals Conan Doyle in her deducing skills and sleuthing abilities. Her loyalty to those she trusts is unwavering.
The House of Hidden Wonders is set to open soon with curiosities collected from around the world by Phineas MacDuff. While Zinnie is watching a seance performed in the house of Lady Sarah Montague (at the request of Conan Doyle), MacDuff makes Zinnie nervous and wary, and with good reason- he is not who he says or seems. This very same evening, Zinnie is introduced to Dr Sophia JexBlake- one of the first female doctors in Scotland. Lady Sarah and Dr Sophia fight the constraints of polite society in adventuring and studying.
The plot well and truly thickens with the arrival of a ghostly spectre and horrendous noise in the derelict home of the poorest in Old Edinburgh. The littlest sister, Nell becomes quite ill and Zinnie is caught in the midst of several interlocking problems. Danger lurks everywhere in Old Edinburgh and even with offers of help from Lady Sarah and Dr Sophia, Zinnie still feels a huge sense of loyalty and responsibility for her sisters. This extends to new sisters Aelfine and her pet monkey Ruby.
I was awe struck at the genius of this book and could not find any point suitable for a break. I had to know what happened next, how Zinnie solved the problems and what exactly the removed ears had to do with it all. So much intense plot and interconnectedness- it was completely beguiling.
Powerful, emotive and atmospheric. I can guarantee you will want to devour this book and will fall in love with Zinnie- her loyalty, love and instincts are admirable. Genius book!
Add it to your wishlists or pre-order now!