Set in Stone by Linda Newbery explores how Samuel, an art tutor, slowly uncovers the truth behind the lives of the Farrow family.
Sisters Juliana and Marianne are complete opposites – something which annoyed me a little as it felt too cliché. Marianne is flighty, striking and passionate, whilst Juliana is more sensible and withdrawn. They live with their overbearing father, who is the reason for so much of the unhappiness of Juliana. It’s the secrets, both of the house – a sculptor was commissioned to create sculptures for each side of Fourwinds, but only three are present – and those who live there, that make the rather magnificent house a house and not a home.
Newbery expertly divides the narrative between Samuel and governess Charlotte. You get a slower reveal of the secrets, and a different perspective as Charlotte has been with the sisters for a much longer time that Samuel. Eventually you learn the truth behind the sisters differing personalitites.
Through these secrets, the threat of lost innocence, and the twists Newbery takes THe Gothic is, to some extent, presentin the novel.
It’s easy to see why the novel won the Costa Children’s Book of the Year Prize for 2006. Although, at times the novel can be too slow to reveal all the secrets, and there are points where I was sure I had figured something out but had to wait several pages before having it confirmed.
Here are some books a bit like Set In Stone that you might also enjoy!
A Great And Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
A great trilogy that is a mixture of historical and fantasy – read my review here!
The Lady in the Tower – Marie-Louise Jenson
Set in 1540 Eleanor’s mother is imprisoned, and Eleanor herself is not safe from the wrath of her father.
I really enjoyed this novel, the plot is interesting and Newbery successfully transports you back in time. The characters are well written, and most importantly for this novel which is so focused on secrets, the more you learn, the more you want to know! The only downside is that sometimes the pace is too slow, however it doesn’t stop this novel from being so, so, so good!