Our Castle By the Sea – Lucy Strange

December hasn’t even arrived but already my head is firmly in January releases. There is a small lull in the publishing world where we all take our collective breaths taking a pause before throwing ourselves headlong into the 2019 releases. The first book of 2019 that I am going to share with you is the highly-anticipated second book from Lucy Strange, ‘Our Castle By the Sea.’ I was totally enchanted by Lucy’s moving debut, ‘The Secret of Nightingale Wood,’ an exquisitely told story, filled with intrigue and adventure so was eager to read this.

England is at war, yet again and for Petra her ordinary life is completely transformed.  Just as their lighthouse is repainted to be camouflaged from the enemy, Petra discovers that she needs to find a way to blend in so that she doesn’t stand out because her mother Mutti, is German, making her an immediate figure of suspicion and hate in their previously close and friendly community. Those that once would talk to her, now turn their backs and there is no outcry when her Mother is taken away from her family to live in an interment camp. There is nowhere for Petra to turn, the rest of her family are caught up in their own secrets and slowly they are torn apart estranged from each other emotionally. In the darkest of times how can a small, afraid girl like Petra reunitel her family and save them from further pain and tragedy.

Lucy demonstrates quite clearly in this story how quickly patriotism can turn into hate. How easy it is for our hearts and minds to be influenced by the words of others. By capturing Petra’s dismay and confusion as these events unfold we see how terrifying and isolating that division can be on those who find themselves suddenly enemies in their own home. We also discover the greatest depths of human compassion and the lengths people  go to, to protect the ones we love. Both Petra’s sister and father become embroiled in their own web of lies because they are blinded by their love. You can sense throughout this book Petra’s increasingly loneliness, as her family try to protect her from the truth, you feel that despite being with them she is truly alone. For me the character of Petra stands out as she has to reach to the very bottom of her reserves to find the courage to stand against those who are wrong, despite nobody believing her. She is selfless when those around her are selfish, focusing on what they believe in. By weaving an ancient legend of the Daughter of the Stone through this tale, Lucy brings lightness and hope when you feel that all is lost. Compelling and thought-provoking, this thrilling adventure places you directly in the centre of the war offering an thoughtful insight into the damaging and heart-breaking impact of war.

Thank you to Lucy and Chicken House for sending me a copy of this enticing book. ‘Our Castle By the Sea,’ is released on the 3rd January and is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.

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