Countdown to 2023 – Day 11 ‘Under the Tree’ (20 days remaining)


Today is day 11 of my countdown to 2023.  Today’s prompt is ‘Mistletoe’ and I’ve chosen a very recent read that was simply lovely, a locked room style, cosy murder mystery with magic, a slightly steamy romance and some crazy characters, not to mention the odd ghost and a talking parrot. The prompts can be found here if you want to join in.  I’m hoping to use mostly books read this year.  Let’s begin:

 MISTLETOE (A little bit of romance)

This book was a delight.  I loved it and it fits today’s prompt perfectly.  A Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske


Tomorrow: Holly and Ivy – a book with great world building


A Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Fantasy of Manners Murder Mystery


I had a really good time with this – even though I just discovered that I crashed into the series on the second book – whoops!  Anyway, the very least I can say is that you can read this book without having read the first!  Although if this is anything to go by I’m sure the first is delightful.  This was an entertaining, fantasy of manners with a murder mystery and romance.  I actually requested the audio version which was really good – thought I’d just throw that in here in case I forget later.  I thought the narration was spot on.

Anyway, Maud Blyth is aboard the R.M.S. Lyric enroute to America accompanying a woman carrying a magical artefact.  Unfortunately, when Maud’s companion is murdered she takes measures to uncover the perpetrator and solve the mystery.  What could possibly go wrong?

I’m not going to go overboard (pun intended *andsorry*) on the plot but just highlight what worked so well for me.

Firstly, the writing and attention to detail is really good.  This isn’t overloaded with descriptions but there’s enough to give a really firm footing and to pull you into the period.  I loved the writing, it flows well, the story has legs and the dialogue is witty.

Secondly, I liked Maud a lot, she has a wonderful arc developing emotionally and really finding herself along the way.  The other predominant characters are Violet Debenham – who is fantastic, I just loved her.  She’s a young woman who ran away from her family’s straitlaced expectations to become an actress in America. She’s inherited some money and is returning to the UK with her family who are determined to latch onto some of that inheritance in any way possible and she loves to be shocking.  What a breath of fresh air she was.  I also liked Hawthorn who was the steadfast character and the ship’s master, he was roped into all sorts of shenanigans.

Finally the setting. I loved this and felt it worked really well.  It felt like everyone was in really close quarters with each other on an almost constant basis.  There’s not much room to maneuver and no way of escape although lots of secret places to hide.  There’s an almost claustrophobic feel.  The author throws in some perfectly quirky and strange asides such as the strange menagerie that’s travelling on board, ghosts and even a seance.  We spend much of the voyage with the first class passengers all eyeing each other nervously and the baddies finally show their hand ramping up the tension.

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have much.  I loved that there was magic included but didn’t really get much of a feel for the dynamics which I blame on myself for not having reading book 1.  There’s an almost over-the-top-Agatha-Christie-Vaudevillian feel to the story with the criminals being overblown caricatures but to be fair, I enjoyed the overall feel and thought it played into the cosy mystery elements  Let’s just be honest – a gritty police drama this is not.

This is a fast paced, sometimes steamy, quite often funny, beautifully written cosy (I guess you could call it a locked room) mystery story with endearing characters, a lovely romance and a menagerie of craziness.  Talking parrots, racy scenes and an overall charm that I was really taken with.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars