Reviews

  • "A story, no matter how cleverly it is structured, lives or dies on the vividness of its characters. Setterfield, a true storyteller, makes us care about all her players in this beguiling novel."

    The Times
  • "Exploring themes of storytelling, parenthood, science and society on the cusp of change, this is a richly evocative novel."

    Observer
  • "Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, came out in 2006 to wide acclaim. She made her mark by delivering her own take on the classic romantic mystery novel, infused with the spirit of Jane Eyre, Rebecca and The Woman in White. Once Upon a River continues to demonstrate her mastery of the Gothic genre in a way that will appeal to modern readers...Setterfield knows how to make the words sing. It is worth taking a journey down the Thames with her."

    Independent
  • "Once Upon a River is magical, in every which way...it's the power of her storytelling that allows readers to suspend disbelief, and draws them through each tangled, dazzling chapter...This riverine novel has the mood and feel of a ghost story told late into the night, and will win over readers who enjoy a touch of age-old enchantment."

    Financial Times
  • "I was completely spellbound by this book. Numerous strands of the same story are skilfully woven into a magical web from which I, as a reader, had no desire to escape. Setterfield’s prose is beautiful, dark and eerily atmospheric, and her rich cast of characters convincingly illustrate the best and worst of humanity. Utterly brilliant!"

    Ruth Hogan,bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things
  • "Once Upon a River is one of the most pleasurable and satisfying new books I've read in a long time. Setterfield is a master storyteller, her language flowing with a dark magic very like the river at the heart of her tale: swift and entrancing, profound and beautiful. Give yourself a treat and read it!"

    Madeline Miller,Orange Prize-winning author of The Song of Achilles and Circe
  • "I so didn't want to leave the world of Once Upon a River but now I have and I'm bereft of the company of country folk and river spirits. This charming story about stories and the mystery of life & death captured my heart. A truly extraordinary book."

    Dinah Jefferies
  • "Her characters are so vivid, one feels as though one has met them, spent an evening in their company, telling stories around the hearth...Setterfield is a master storyteller herself, giving us all the depth and plot and richness of the great narrative novelists. This is dazzling, alive, all-consumer writing: one reads each page greedily, the beautiful sentences shining like jewels under the pulling current of the tale itself."

    Daily Telegraph
  • "A satisfying, thickly characterised tale that plunges you into an evocatively realised historical setting. You care for its characters."

    Sunday Times
  • "A finely drawn cast and bravura storytellling."

    Mail on Sunday