Wednesday, August 8, 2018
The Companion by Sarah Dunnakey
Paperback: 324 pages
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction.
Publisher: Orion Books 2017
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: I grew up in a palace.
Review Quote: An absorbing mystery story, really evocative of the Yorkshire Moors and the mill. I loved the character of Billy Shaw! The story kept me engrossed and flipping the pages right to the end. (Katherine Webb, bestselling author of The Legacy)
Main Characters: Billy Shaw and Anna Sallis
Setting: Yorkshire, England
My Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel, the setting really comes alive on the pages and I now want to visit the place that was the inspiration for the story! Gibson Mill in Hardcastle Crags, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, a National Trust Property, previously a cotton mill and then an entertainment emporium. It sounds like the perfect setting for the fictional Ackerdean Mill. If I am ever lucky enough to visit the area I will be able to imagine Billy and Jaspar running around the moors and the modern day Anna in her job as custodian of 'Ackerdean Heritage Centre', trying to unravel the mystery she stumbles across.
A believable mystery from the past with realistic and engaging characters that is worth getting immersed in. Recommended to readers that enjoy a compelling mystery.
Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:
1932 - Twelve-year-old Billy Shaw lives in a palace. Potter's Pleasure Palace - the best entertainment venue this side of the Pennines, complete with dancing and swing-boats and picnickers and a roller-skating rink. Billy's ma runs the tea rooms and Billy himself looks forward to becoming the assistant to Mr Potter when he grows up. Until, that is, Mr Potter arranges for Billy to go to High Hob, the big house at the top of the valley, to be companion to Jasper Harper.
Jasper lives with his mother Edie and his Uncle Charles, brother and sister authors, escaped from London, and some say debt and scandal, in order to write. On his arrival, Billy finds a haphazard household where nothing that's meant is said, and he runs wild with the untamed Jasper, spending all the time they can on the moors trying to catch The Beast. For four years the boys are inseparable, but when Charles and Edie are found dead, ruled a double suicide, Billy has already left the valley to start a new life in London. His time in the Harper household is written out of history.
2015 - Newly-appointed custodian of Ackerdean Mill, formerly the Palace, Anna Sallis begins to sort through the chaotic archives of the Mill, the Palace and the Harper siblings, and finds documents pointing to inconsistencies in the accepted story of Charles and Edie's suicide. Anna becomes curious about what happened to her neighbour Frank's Uncle Billy, absent from the known story. Why did he leave the valley? And what did he know about the events at High Hob?
Sarah Dunnakey grew up in Guisborough, on the edge of the North York Moors and later Redcar in Teesside, by the sea. She now lives in West Yorkshire with her husband and daughter.
After brief stints as a College Librarian, an Education Officer in a Victorian Cemetery and an NHS researcher she landed her dream job as a Question Researcher on Mastermind.
She now write and verify questions for several TV quiz shows including University Challenge, Pointless and 15-to-1. Her work, especially researching Specialist Subjects for Mastermind, has been a rich source of story ideas.
She has had short stories published in various anthologies. Her story ‘The Marzipan Husband’ was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. In 2014 she won a Northern Writers’ Award for the ‘The Companion’, her debut novel.
For more information visit Sarah Dunnakey - Author Website
Photographs, Trailer and Biographical Information courtesy of the following sites.
Goodreads Author Profile Author Official Website Facebook Profile Twitter Profile
Amazon - Sarah Dunnakey Author Profile