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The Almanack

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Member Reviews

Refreshing and it seems historically accurate,  I especially liked tabitha's voice.  I have to admit although I enjoyed reading the entries which are set at the  beginning of each chapter  I didn't bother  trying  to work them out .. but it did not seen to effect the  reading!

Arriving too later after her widowed mother's dying,  she notes a blow to her head .. who did it? Why? Nat's just arrived as a local guest and writer,   and the two search it out  themselves .. won't give it away here,  but it seems obvious when you know it.  Really clever (although I missed out the riddles bit) , this is an impressive writer.
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Hmm, this is tricky novel to review and I’ve been thinking about it for a while. It starts really nicely; the sense of place and time is carried over well and we get an immediate impression of the main character as she wakes up to a nasty surprise. Tabitha’s personality and story reminded me pleasantly of 18th & 19th Century picaresque novels, particularly Moll Flanders and Vanity Fair. The motley crew of rustic characters provide colour and a long list of suspects. 

Martine Bailey has clearly done a lot of research about life in the 1750s and there are many historical nuggets for a nerd to enjoy, particularly discussions about losing 11 days through switching to the Gregorian calendar. The plot device of using an almanack (with riddles) as a thread through the whole story is intriguing too and piqued my interest at first. However, in the end I think that this was what spoilt the book for me. By breaking the story down into many days over around 6 months causes the plot to lose momentum, although it starts well and picks up at the end. I wanted to praise this book more as there were so many elements that appealed to me but there was just something missing. I did like it and will look out for this author in the future.
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I definitely enjoyed the riddles of the book in fact, my daughter and I had a competition going who would solve them quicker. Overall, however, this book did not work for me, it just never felt that it was set at the time it said it was and once you struggle to believe that it becomes hard to believe anything.
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It is 1752, Tabitha has been enjoying the bright lights of London. She like the fine clothes & the lifestyle her 'gentlemen friends' can give her. However, finding out her Mother needs her she returns home. She intended to arrive in style, but one last liaison on her way left her with next to nothing. On arrival she is too late to talk to her mother who dies from her injuries after a brutal attack. Not long afterwards the local laird's son is also slashed to death. In an attempt to find out what happened to her & why the predictions in the Almanack her mother was so fond of seems to be particularly apt for the events in the village. Along with Ned Starling, a struggling writer, they try to solve the mystery and avoid being blamed for the events that are blighting the village.

Each chapter starts with a riddle & a page from that day's Almanack. I liked how this gave a sense of time & place to the narrative. I also liked trying to solve the riddles. Overall it was an unusual but enjoyable read. Thanks to Netgalley & the publisher for letting me read & review this book.
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"Superstition. Murder. Vengeance." Set in the fictional town of Netherlea in 1752, this extremely well-written historical novel will entertain and engage. The author has done meticulous research that brings the story to life with the lovely, descriptive prose and is centered around the pages of an almanack so marks each chapter with the date, the sun and moon activity and a prognostication for the day. In addition, a truly unique feature is the riddle at the beginning of each new chapter. I blame those riddles for slowing my usual reading pace as I labored tremendously to try to guess the answer and solve each before I allowed myself to get back into the narrative!

Tabitha Hart, former prostitute in London, returns to Netherlea at the behest of her mother. Along the way, she's robbed of her money and possessions and so enters the village with nothing but her sullied reputation only to find that her mother has died. Tabitha's mother had been the village searcher -- recording and tending all manner of village life from births to deaths, and Tabitha is entreated to take on that role so that she can stay in the cottage where her mother lived with the child, Bess. Tabitha does not believe that her mother's death was a natural one and as she assumes her new duties, she is determined to find out the truth. It seems there is evil at work in Netherlea and Tabitha joins forces with an aspiring writer, newcomer Nathaniel Starling, to root out the tormentor who signs his threatening notes as "D" or De Angelo. NO SPOILERS.

A mystery in a village shrouded by superstitious beliefs and folklore where power is wielded without charity and death is a common visitor. The people that reside and work in Netherlea have hard lives and rely on the benevolence of the squire and landlord, Sir John De Vallory and his family. Why are so many afflicted and who is behind the sudden demise of certain townspeople? 

This is a true delight for anyone who enjoys delving into historical fiction and I found it totally absorbing. Thank you to NetGalley and Black Thorn Books for this e-book ARC to read, review and recommend.
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The year is 1752 and Tabitha, a young woman who left her home in the small village of Netherlea in disgrace, is trying to create a better life for herself in London. She receives a message from her mother that she is needed at home but upon her delayed arrival Tabitha finds that her mother has drowned. While preparing her mother for burial she finds a wound on the back of her head that suggests her mother was murdered. Tabitha is determined find out what happened to her mother and begins to investigate the circumstances surrounding her mother's death, finding clues in her mother's Almanack.  With the help of Nat, a new comer to the village with his own mysterious agenda, Tabitha finds that her mother's death is only one piece of an elaborate game. She must solve the mystery of who is behind this game before her allotted time in the village runs out.

The setting and time period descriptions are wonderfully graphic and create a realistic image of the story. The depiction of the villagers as suspicious and having an intolerant mindset are indicative of the time period. The story telling was strong, creating a great visual of the world the author was describing. However, I did feel like the characters could have been developed a lot more. I got to the end of the book and still felt like I didn't really know them. I also didn't care for the riddles at the beginning of each chapter. I found them to be distracting and stopped reading them after the first two chapters.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and will look to read more from this author.
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Well written and evocative historical mystery with an engaging and unique heroine at its center.  I enjoyed learning more about almanacks, but I confess that my interest in riddles didn't extend to solving 50 of them.  However, skimming through them (which is what I did after the first several) in no way diminished my enjoyment of the story.
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I haven't read anything by this author before but I had seen it on the TBR list of a few authors I like and when it came up on NetGalley  I jumped at the chance to read it. To be honest, I  really struggled with how to rate this book. It's so well written and the descriptive text gave you a real sense of the time in which it's set, the riddles added a nice touch, the twists and turns in the plot made it an intriguingly good read and kept you guessing until near the end . For all of that I'd give it a 5 star but my problem is that  I didn't love the book either. The main protagonists, when you meet them are really not that likeable, Tabitha has been summoned home to Netherlea from London by her mother, she sells her body for a living , She thinks nothing about robbing her patrons and this is how the author sets the scene, only the gentleman in question has divested her of everything she owns, including her silk dress . With no money she ends up trudging back to her old home on foot and partly clothed, to find she is too late and her mother dead, presumed drowned . Tabitha finds hers mother's Almanack hidden in the cottage and this is where the mystery starts. Her mother has written several entries about a mysterious 'D'  ,who terrifies her and has left threatening missives . She resolves to discover and unmask him. Nat startling is often seen in the woods, loitering around , observing the occupants of the village. He has returned from London also, having been working alongside widow Hart ( Tabitha mother)in a clandestine manner. What is his motivation in helping Tabitha ? They both manage to redeem themselves somewhat by the end of the book, you understand the choices Tabitha has made and the circumstances that lad to her leaving the village. Nothing is as it seems. I was a little disappointed in the ending , It seemed to end quickly and was sugary sweet in a way that didn't seem to fit the rest of the book.  Overall it's a really interesting, well researched book. I give it a three and a half stars
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This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own 

Thanks to Black Thorn Books for a review copy.

The Almanack, is set in England during the 1750s. London is full vice and over indulgences. From the moment Tabitha wakes at an inn on her journey to Netherlea, finding that she has been robbed by her companion for the night, left with nothing other than the underclothes she’s wearing and a purloined watch shaped as a silver skull. Tabitha is summoned home by a cryptic message from her mother. Arriving in the sleepy village of Netherlea, Tabitha finds her mother has died and is determined to find out just how and why. Finding cryptic notes in her mother’s almanack, Tabitha is determined to discover the truth, but the superstitious villagers are wary of her. Only the enigmatic Nat Starling is prepared to join her, as she sets out to uncover her mother’s killer. 

Bailey skillfully weaves romance, meticulous historical details and a who-done-it plot to bring forth this incredible storyline. The Almanack’s setting is richly described and you get a real sense of being there with the characters. The characters themselves are well fleshed out and and the plot keeps you engaged in this twisty novel to keep you guessing right to the end.

Bailey explores themes of time, mystery the novel takes place in the year the Gregorian calender is introduced in England. Days are lost but knowledge is gained, by reading Tabitha's mothers Almanack. Captivating riddles add an extra layer in historical, murder mystery 

The author has created a beguiling well constructive historical fiction, a stunning atmospheric mystery set in the mid-18th-century England. Martine Bailey book, has perfected her writing to catapult the reader to another era. Her meticulous research is evident in her luscious wonderful descriptive details.

Rich and beguiling constructive historical fiction, a stunning atmospheric mystery set in the mid-18th-century England 
Martine Bailey book, has perfected her writing to transport the reader to another era. Her meticulous research is evident in her luscious descriptive details.

#TheAlmanack #NetGalley
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In the year 1752 Tabitha Hart earns a living at the pleasure of whichever London gentlemen have the coin to pay for her time, but when her ailing mother calls her home to the village of Netherlea she has no choice but to reluctantly do as she is bid. Unfortunately, by the time she returns home it is too late. Despite the assurances of the village constable and the local doctor, Tabitha finds evidence in her mother’s almanack that suggests a darker truth to her death, and a mystery that threatens more darkness to come.

This was a surprisingly engrossing read, with plenty of twists and intrigue to keep any fan of historical mysteries reading. What starts off as a simple tale soon grows into a tangled narrative of murder and conspiracy, with pretty much every major character being implicated in one way or another throughout. Each chapter is preceded by a riddle such as might be found in the pages of an almanack of the time, adding to the reader’s immersion into the story that unfolds as protagonists Tabitha and Nat uncover more and more of the mystery around them. It’s a nice little touch in a wonderfully paced and written book.

While the writing is superb, the thing that stands out the most for me is the attention to detail shown by the author. Not only does Netherlea feel like a real, working village of the time, the characters themselves are rounded and three-dimensional, and this is true of even the most minor of characters. On top of this she also gives us a taste of the confusion caused by the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in Britain, and the disruption the loss of eleven days of September caused to everyday village life. It’s only a small detail, but it’s enough to give the novel a sense of reality, a more grounded feel than if it had been set in any other year.

All in all this is a superb read that keeps you on your toes with all the twists and turns it throws at you. While I’ll admit it took me a few chapters to get into the story, once it got its hooks into me I couldn’t stop reading and the final few chapters fairly raced to a breathtaking conclusion. I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who likes to sink their teeth into a juicy mystery, especially if they like their mysteries to be wrapped in historical trappings with an authentic feel. Definitely worth a solid four out of five stars.
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While this was interesting learning how much 18th-century England was captivated by almanacs and their daily predictions and astrological signs, it was just a bit too slow for me. While the story/mystery were fine, I wasn’t pulled in by any of the characters, not even the central one of Tabitha. 

Thanks to #NetGalley and #BlackThorn for providing the ARC. The opinions are strictly my own.
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The Almanack by Martine Bailey is an historical mystery set in fictional Netherlea during 1752.  The drama begins as Tabitha Hart returns home from London, where she led a somewhat scandalous call-girl life.  She is robbed during her travels, and returns home broke and half-dressed, only to find that her widowed mother has died, leaving Tabitha as the towns "searcher" and the guardian for her little sister.  Alternating chapters are told by Nat Starling, a visitor town with secrets of his own.  The two discover that neither believes that Tabitha's mother's drowning was an accident, and begin to the investigate the strange occurances in the town.

Well written though a bit slow at the start, The Almanack will please fans of historical mystery with a bit of romance, like titles by Rhys Bowen and Catherine Coulter.
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An enjoyable book. A little different for the normal run of the mill historical murder mystery. The plot was reasonably compelling, the characters were fairly likeable and I was kept guessing for a while. The setting was nicely described too without falling into the trap of becoming tedious. It’s certainly a cut above the average and definitely worth a read.
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A most peculiar book that is imbalanced between being a romance and a crime novel. The book has good research and transports the reader to the period well, I enjoyed reading about almanacks at the end and thought the use of them was a good device. My fear is that this book is too clever for itself, the riddles provide a distraction to getting on with reading and if solved give much away for the chapter. The use of the almanack information at the beginning of the chapters was an interesting touch demonstrating the astronomical interest at the time and the superstitious nature of the population but the third line with the prediction felt like the way children's books give chapter headings so you know what to expect.

Overall a book that is written well enough but not an experience I am likely to repeat as it wasn't a satisfying rad for me.
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Oh, I do so love a good historical yarn! And Bailey’s Almanack certainly does not disappoint. From the first scene where we meet the protagonist, Tabitha Hart, I was hooked on how she would fare. A year before we meet her, she had left Netherlea, the dreary village she grew up in and headed for the bright lights of London. Her mother urged her to come back, seemingly unsettled by something. Returning to Chester, Tabitha is robbed by her night-time customer and has to return to her village destitute, a village which she left under a cloud a year ago. She is too late to find her mother alive and slowly the clues mount that her death was anything but an accident.
I loved the “almanack” structure and the (very hard) riddles in every chapter.
The restraints of convention, gossippy village residents and forbidding priests, together with superstitions and “old knowledge” make this book a very gripping read.
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This story turned out to be so much more than what I had been expecting. The author knows how to twist her words so that you easily see the surrounding countryside, or feel the stones beneath the main character's feet. She is beset by squalor and filth, and doubts, but she is determined to discover who killed her mother.
The riddles that preceded each chapter were a mind-bendy treat, that I was unable to solve on my own. The characters became better people than I had originally given them credit for, many more multi-layered than they seemed.
This is a book that deserves a second and third reading, only reading a little slower the next time. Like tasting fine wine and savouring the taste of it.

Only with words.
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Thanks to Black Thorn Books for a review copy.

Set in 1752 ‘The Almanack’ tells the story of Tabitha, a country girl from the (fictional) village of Netherlea in Cheshire who is summoned home from her somewhat immoral but enjoyable life in London by her mother. She arrives too late and finds her mother dead but after stumbling across her mother’s treasured almanac she becomes suspicious that her death was not accidental and that Netherlea is not the peaceful and safe home that she remembers.

Almanacs were hugely in fashion at the time this novel is set, they contained astronomical information as well as predictions for events to come and puzzles for the reader. Each chapter of this book begins with a riddle and the astronomical and astrological information for the day. The riddles are fairly straightforward to solve but provide a series of entertaining challenges which break up the narrative nicely. The answers are, thankfully, provided at the end of the book in case any of the conundrums prove too taxing.

Netherlea is brought to life in the novel and it is easy to picture the village with its hierarchy of occupants from the Lord of the Manor down to the serving wenches and labourers. Like any village gossip abounds and Tabitha’s return is cause for tongues to wag. She is not the only stranger, a would be poet named Nathaniel Starling has also come to live locally for reasons which he is loath to disclose and which are the subject of much speculation.

Although primarily a mystery story the book also weaves in some interesting history. 1752 was the year that Britain converted to the Gregorian Calendar and hence ‘lost’ eleven days in September. The reaction of the villagers to this and the determination of some to continue with the dates as they had always been is beautifully realised. Many of the local folk lived their lives by the sun and religious festivals, their work being governed by the changing of the seasons, and had little use for calendars, let alone being deprived of what they saw as eleven days of their lives.

The author also weaves realistic background information into the book which brings with it a sense of realism and scholarship. For example we learn how women could use their almanacs as a means of contraception as well as gaining an insight into the early days of the sensationalist press.

The central mystery is both compelling and entertaining and, although it is not too hard to identify the villain of the piece, Tabitha’s investigations are interesting and plausible. Her character grew on me as I read the book. In the initial chapters she came across as a spoilt girl who thought herself a cut above the folk whom she had left behind in her home village but she mellows and becomes a much more thoughtful and likeable person over the course of the story.

I recommend the book to those who enjoy historical mysteries set against a realistic backdrop. The riddles are an added bonus providing a little mental work out at the start of each of the fifty or so chapters. This is undoubtedly a fun way to while away a few hours whilst as the winter nights draw in and be transported back to an age that was, in many ways, not too dissimilar to our own.
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This is an interesting historical novel, and gave me a good insight into life in the late eighteenth century.  Tabitha is a flawed and very human heroine.  I cared about what happened to her, and the story kept my interest throughout the book.  I gave up reading most of the riddles, but did solve a couple: some readers may appreciate these more than I did.
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"The Almanack" is  an interesting story set in 1752.  I enjoyed the writing style of the author 
There are lots of mysteries in this book.  This is the first book that I have read by this author and I will be looking for more books by her.

Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for a copy of this book.
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A tedious and overlong murder mystery focusing on a small English village in the 18th century, The protagonist, who had escaped the village to London, where she became a sex worker, returns at her mother's request only to find her mother dead and having left cryptic messages behind. The protagonist, her stalker, her putative suitor, and others are part of a complex and unnecessary tangle of past relationships and grudges that complicate the story. The characters are awkward and flat and inconsistent in their behavior, the plot is unnecessarily dragged out, and much of the writing uses over-sued ideas, phrases, and set pieces.
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