Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

What’s this book about?

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers. 

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why was Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

My review

Magpie Lane is an exquisitely plotted, character driven psychological thriller that immediately bewitched me-it is simply stunning! It’s an intelligent and creepy tale exploring family, loss and the myths and stories we build around them. And I fell completely and utterly madly in love with all the characters-Dee the Scottish nanny, Felicity her selectively mute charge and Linklater, the house historian who becomes Dee’s friend when he’s employed to discover the history of the Oxford Lodging where Dee is employed by Nick and Mariah and live with this rather dysfunctional family.

It is set in Oxford, but an Oxford I guarantee you won’t have visited before! There are intriguing nooks and crannies galore that invite further exploration in a city that doesn’t share its secrets easily. The disappearance of Felicity is the strip being pulled from the intricately detailed wallpaper of family tragedy, leaving a disturbing, yet somehow hopeful, trail to follow. There is an intensely claustrophobic feeling throughout this dark, gothic storyline that flows with the same fluidity as the police interview with Dee does from chapter to chapter until its unexpected denouement. And that ending will stay with me for a very long time.

This has got to be one of my books of the year so far. The ghosts of the past impacted on these characters in such a way that they also left their mark on me as the reader and their haunting voices still echo throughout my head as I struggle to move on to the next book I plan to read!

Highly recommended by me.

Magpie Lane will be published by Quercus on 2nd April 2020.

Meet the author

Lucy Atkins is an award-winning feature journalist and author, as well as a Sunday Times book critic. She has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, and the Telegraph, as well as magazines such as Psychologies, Red, Woman and Home and Grazia. She lives in Oxford.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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