Cover Image: The Almanack

The Almanack

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Member Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Black Thorn for the eARC.
An impressive read with a good story, a terrific sense of place and lots of interesting facts about life in 1752 in rural England.  I was also fascinated by the fact that Almanac(k)s were so enormously popular...I didn't realize almanacs were around in those days.
Tabitha Hart, after a heartfelt request by her mother, reluctantly leaves her beloved life in London for Netherlea, the village she grew up in.
Unfortunately her mum is already dead (drowned) and she's surrounded by antagonistic villagers, with her young child to look after (a task she doesn't relish) while being broke.  She's suspicious about her mum's death and determined to find the killer.
I hate to admit that I wasn't particularly good at solving the riddles at the start of every chapter, a good thing the answers are at the end of the book!
A clever mystery (kudos to the author) which I recommend highly.
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This book was a delight from start to finish, weaving folklore, romance, family tensions and murder alongside descriptions of bucolic splendour and also the harsh realities of village life in the mid 18th century. It is a well researched book and preceding each chapter was an authentic riddle (with answers at the back of the book) that linked to the contents of the chapter and I really enjoyed trying to solve the little mysteries. The characters were all brought to life in the most evocative way, even those that were primarily to move the plot along , and I could practically see the village of Netherlea and all its inhabitants in front of me as I read further on. The writing flows at a good pace and the clever tying up of all the loose threads reminded me a little of Dickens crossed with Hardy, but brought bang up to date. 

My thanks go to the publishers and Net Galley for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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Well, sure I like puzzles, riddles and historical mysteries. This sounded intriguing enough, but there was a sort of women’s fiction aspect to it. Nevertheless, I went for it…and came out thoroughly ambivalent.  Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. This is a novel told in riddles, which is fun enough as far as gimmicks go. Each chapter starts off with an old timey riddle, the answer to which is usually featured within the following pages. The riddles were actually fun, I was able tom solve a good amount of them to my delight and if you can’t don’t worry, the answers are given at the end of the book. The plot was somewhat less entertaining or maybe it was the Regency romance like characters, but at any rate, a young woman named Tabitha returns to her native village of Netherlea after being away in Londontown earning money the old fashioned way. Is that a plain enough euphemism for prostitution? Anyway, upon her return, Tabitha finds that her mother died in mysterious circumstances and decides to investigate it. The villagers are unsurprisingly unforthcoming and unfriendly. But there’s a handsome newcomer Nathaniel Starling who’s more than willing to offer an entire variety of helping limbs. And obviously, there’s also an almanac, a very popular thing of the time, a book that combines practical information such as the times of sun rising and setting and downright bizarre ambiguous ominous predictions. One of those entries also precedes and plays out in each chapter. And so the mystery slowly unravels straight down to a nice plot twist to the delight of all mystery fans. The final riddle is solved and the final curtain of the happily ever after descends. All. So. Neat. So what didn’t quite work for me? Difficult to put into words…a certain lacey quality to the writing. It’s an inherently dark story, but there’s a certain light quaint aspect to the narration, like it has a level to maintain to appeal to its target audience, which I bet (and going by the GR reviews I’m right) are ladies who love their historical mysteries without too much grime and viscera. What one might (and should, to coin the phrase) refer to as a mother or mother in law book. Which is completely fine, not every book has to delve into the darkest nightmares of the mind…although you’d think ones about murders might. Anyway…the plot was fairly drawn out. The writing was perfectly fine for what it was. A very easy read, nothing challenging outside of the riddles. The historical setting was cleverly centered around the 1752 calendar change, although the confusion of disappeared days not really utilized to the maximum effect. There’s also a chance that Georgian era doesn’t quite fascinate the way Victorian era does, although the pop culture thing they had going on with the almanacs and riddles is certainly kinda fun. All in all, a decent, fairly entertaining read, but nothing memorable, notable or exceptional about it. And yet unquestionably very appealing to a certain readership. Thanks Netgalley.
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Murder, mystery, riddles and puzzles.  A great story with lots of twists.  The historical setting is very well done and I really enjoyed the insight into almanacs.  The main characters slowly reveal their better qualities as initial suspicions are put aside.  Tension is maintained right through to the final chapter and there is plenty to keep the reader guessing. 
A thoroughly enjoyable read that insight recommended.
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