Cover Image: The Almanack

The Almanack

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Member Reviews

An intriguing read of murder, mystery, predictions and riddles.
every chapter starts with information that includes an almanac prediction of what will happen that day.
There is also a riddle with the answer in each chapter.
Set in 1752, after receiving a worrying letter from her mother,  a young Tabitha Hart leaves London for her home village of Netherlea – only to discover that her mother has drowned. No one but her thinks it is murder, but her others notes in her Almanack lead Tabitha on a hunt for her mothers killer
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If I had to describe this book I would summarize it one word :interesting. 
Good historical theme. Suspense. Plot that will confuse you at time but put you straight in straight line right after and more. I absolutely loved the cover!
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This book got me through a tough week working away from home. I couldn't wait to get back to my hotel room and find out what happened next. I loved how each chapter started with a riddle (of which I was rubbish at solving - the answers are at the back). I also really enjoyed the little bit about the introduction of the Gregorian calendar introduced in the same year the book is set, 1752, something I know very little about. Always fun to learn something new. 

There are many layers to the book as Tabitha tries to track down the mysterious killer known only as 'D' and whether she can trust her new beau Nat Starling. I liked the characters. Each served their own purpose and were greatly written. I found it so easy to imagine the time period and settings of the book. I really enjoyed this and would am so glad I've found a new historical crime fiction author.
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This book follows Tabitha as she returns to her mother who requested she come quickly but come to find her dead and suspects murder. There is also a mysterious writer who is a bit of a creep in my opinion and various other village characters. I never really connected with the story or the characters. I had some trouble keeping everyone straight and I think it was because my mind kept wandering. Most people seem to have enjoyed it. I just wanted more character development and I did not believe the romance.
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As someone who loves puzzles and word games of all kinds, I was captivated by Martine Bailey’s latest novel, The Almanack. Each chapter opens with a riddle, the answers to which are listed at the end of the book but are also carefully hidden somewhere within the relevant chapter. If, for example, the solution to a riddle is ‘cherry’, in the pages that follow you will see a character eating cherries. Sometimes the allusion is so brief you could easily miss it but in other cases it will form the theme for the whole chapter.

The story itself is a murder mystery set in Georgian England. It begins in 1752 with Tabitha Hart’s reluctant return from London to the village of Netherlea in Cheshire in answer to an urgent summons from her mother. Unfortunately she arrives too late; her mother has died under suspicious circumstances, the only clues to her fate being some cryptic notes scribbled in the margins of her almanack, in which she describes her terror of someone referred to only as ‘D’.

As Tabitha sets out to identify the mysterious D, she comes up against the hostility of the other villagers, who disapprove of the life she has been leading in London. However, she receives help in her search from an unlikely source: a troubled young writer called Nat Starling, a newcomer to Netherlea who may be hiding secrets of his own.

This is the first book I’ve read by Martine Bailey and I was very impressed by her recreation of 18th century village life. With her descriptions of ancient superstitions and beliefs, a community ruled by the seasons and the weather, and the conflict between the old ways of life and the new, I was often reminded of Thomas Hardy. The reluctance of the villagers to move forward and embrace change is illustrated particularly well when they discover that Britain is to switch from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian, jumping forward by eleven days in September. They are confused and angry about the ‘stolen days’, with some of them believing their lifespan has somehow been shortened.

Time and calendars are important themes in this novel. First, there is the almanack in the story, which Tabitha’s mother had been using to plan her days and which holds some of the keys to the mystery. Then there’s the way in which the book itself is structured like an almanack, with each chapter headed by the date, some astrological information and a prophecy relating to something that will happen that day. Riddles, prophecies and predictions are woven throughout the text of the novel too, with the unknown villain using them to taunt and tease Tabitha and Nat.

I really enjoyed this book and its many layers. There were times, though, when all of the extra little features started to distract me from the story; I became too caught up in looking for clues to the riddles and for prophecies coming true and found myself losing track of the central mystery. Still, this was an unusual and entertaining read and I will now have to try Martine Bailey’s other two books, An Appetite for Violets and The Penny Heart, both of which sound intriguing too.
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An enjoyable read, with some great characters, and a real sense of an historical period.  However, parts of the book seemed to drag at times.  An entertaining book, which I would recommend, however.
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This book ended up being a bit more of a struggle for me than I would have thought.  The premise sounded so interesting and I was very excited to read it.

There is definitely a reader that this story is perfect for, it just wasn't me.

I struggled with the riddles that were in the book.  I wanted to try to figure them out because I wasn't sure if they were going to help me understand the story, but there were like 50 and I just am not great at riddles and I gave up.  The answers are provided in the back of the book, but I found that to be really frustrating to bounce back and forth for the answer.

Enough about the riddles though.  The overall story was just okay for me. The writing was good, I just found the story lagging. I wanted to move forward faster than the story was going.  The book is filled with mystery and clues and I know that there are readers that will love everything about the way the story was written.  

So, if riddles, mystery, history, and murder sound intriguing to you, check this one out.

I was provided an advanced reader's copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.
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Great writing in an unexpected story. Great originality along with a compelling cast of characters and a vivid portrait of the past.
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A rich, beguiling tapestry of 18th century suspicion and mistrust, overlaid with a touch of romance and a few murders and you have the perfect novel to while away any rainy weekend.
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This was a story told in riddles and there were far too many to solve them all. The historical background was excellent and well researched  but the storyline and characters didn't live up to expectations.
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The premise of this novel was interesting and started out well but I found it hard to get into and my attention did wander. I gave up about half way through. It is a real shame as there are so many good ideas.
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Well written, researched and intriguing book.  One of the best I've read in 2019.  The main character is a young woman surviving in an age where food and security is scarce.  The story pulls you in until the end, with twists and turns you never expect.  The use of riddles and extracts from almanacs  is a clever device to weave around the story.
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I was sent a copy of The Almanack by Martine Bailey to read and review by NetGalley.
I have to say I really enjoyed this novel.  Evocative and full of intrigue it was a charming historical whodunnit.  I especially enjoyed the riddles and the prognostications at the beginning of each chapter, which made you think and wonder how they related to what was coming next.  The characters were well drawn, with a slight edge so that you were never quite sure who to trust.  I wouldn’t say it was the most literary of works, but it was engaging and very readable!
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An interesting story that keeps the reader involved from start to finish. Definitely recommended to those readers who enjoy reading this type of book set in a historical setting.
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The Almanack is a fabulous and unique book. I can't wait to read more by this author. Well written and interesting characters.
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The Almanack written by Martine Bailey is a thoroughly enjoyable mystery.  It takes place in 1752 when England is changing to the Georgian calendar thus losing eleven days of the year in the process.  I have not seen very many books addressing this time in history, it was a nice element to both the story and its pacing as it added a sense of urgency.

The characters are well written, it was easy to picture them. The plot was interesting, I found myself engaged, I felt invested in the story and oftentimes needed to keep reading for more in spite of the late hour.  

I can't end this review without mentioning the wonderful riddles at the start of every chapter.  What fun I had trying to work them out! Also, the information listed after the riddle but before the text of the chapter, the astrological (is that correct descriptor?) was interesting a well. How clever and in keeping with the title and with the spirit of the book to follow the format of an almanc!

I recommend this book, especially to readers who do not like gore as the "crime scenes" are not described in great detail as far as the "blood and guts" aspect - you are given the clues but are spared anything that may be considered gross.  I will look for more books from Mrs. Bailey as i enjoyed reading The Almanack
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A real riddle of a novel with some gorgeous observations of nature.  For the full review see
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Thanks to Black Thorn and Net Galley for the ARC of this book!

I began by reading the information at the end of the book, which gave me insight into how important almanacs were to daily life. I did a bit of research and learned that the English calendar riots of 1752 occurred when the British government decided to alter the calendar, skipping 11 days, in order to bring Britain into line with most of Western Europe. Switching from Julian to Gregorian meant that 11 days had to be "lost" in order to make the change. It was decided that Wednesday, September 2, 1752 would be followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752. People were suspicious at the moving of saints' days and h only days; however, historians now believe that these protests never happened, making the calendar riots the Georgian equivalent of an urban myth.

This calendar change impacts the story, which begins when Tabitha Hart returns to her home in Netherlea after receiving an urgent request from her mother. Sadly, her return is too late, as her mother has died from drowning...or so it seems. Finding her mother's almanac, Tabitha realizes that there are cryptic messages written throughout. While preparing her mother's body, Tabitha finds evidence that her mother was murdered.

Even though Tabitha and her past are the subject of gossip and ridicule, she is not swayed in her determination to find the truth. She ends up with a young writer named Nat Starling, who also has a questionable past, and they work together to find the truth.

The mystery was clever and the characters were well written. I especially enjoyed trying to decipher the riddle that started each chapter. Thankfully, the answers were in the back of the book. Riddles were often found in almanacs, and they served as a form of entertainment. Each riddle presented here contributed to the book. I was able to figure out some of them, but was stumped on many others. This was an interesting plot device, and I wonder if the author created these riddles or found them in almanacs. Since they added to the plot, I presume she created them.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and enjoys learning some history along the way!
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Riddle me this?
I have to say the structure and atmosphere this book had is what got me hooked from the start. 
Tabitha is called home by her mother but when she arrives she finds her mother has seems to find this that suspicious but Tabitha is sure it’s murder. She finds her mother’s Almanack and her scribblings within. 
A fun and original murder mystery set in early English period which I enjoyed.
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Long after the story within this book fades, I shall long remember the riddles!  I found this to be an absolute gem of a read. Set in Georgian England, deep in the countryside, at the change of the calendar in 1752, when we suddenly gained eleven days, and sent every institution into a confused state. The hamlets and villages were so far removed from London, that the inhabitants carried on daily life as usual, and this gentle routine and emphasis upon almanacs provide a sympathetic background to murders, carried out by an unknown De Angelo. The story is heavy with menace and foreboding, and the characters are shifty, some generous, but the majority are narrow minded and full of their own importance.
I love the quaintness of this book! Each chapter starts with a riddle, but it is not made clear if the solving will contribute any clues to the murderer. The main theme concerns the reading, or interpretation of an almanac. References are made to the Luminary- the position of the sun and stars on a daily basis, the Observation,- the planetary positions and movements, and the Prognostications- the foretelling of the future. It was almost seen as part of a religion to lead ones life according to the almanac, but today we have horoscopes, so , not too different!. My parents always had a copy of Old Moore’s Almanac in the house, and I was astonished to find that they had been in common usage for such a long time!. Getting back to the riddles, I’m ashamed that the first riddle I solved was number 25! How ridiculously happy I felt! It was a long wait before I succeeded with numbers 35,38,41 and 48!. The false clue was well delivered, the scent of Christmas, that then mentioned Laurel. I thought I was on a winner, as my name means Laurel, and there was a person of the name , but alas, that was not the answer! 
I will recommend this book most enthusiastically. I have already regaled and annoyed my husband and children, in equal measures, with the riddles!. I have spent almost two weeks on this book, thanks to those riddles! I loved this book, it’s such an unusual premise and it’s so much fun!. Fully deserving of its five star rating, thank you for a most entertaining division, beats watching the television hands down.
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