#SnowSisters #CarolLovekin #BlogTour #Review

I am delighted to be on the Blog Tour today for Snow Sisters by Carol Lovekin. My huge thanks to both Carol and Honno Press for inviting me to join in with celebrating the publication of this beautiful novel and for the advance copy of the novel in return for my honest review! 

What's the novel about? 

Two sisters, their grandmother’s old house and Angharad… the girl who cannot leave.

Meredith discovers a dusty sewing box in a disused attic. Once open the box releases the ghost of Angharad, a Victorian child-woman with a horrific secret she must share. Angharad slowly reveals her story to Meredith who fails to convince her more pragmatic sister of the visitations until Verity sees Angharad for herself on the eve of an unseasonal April snowstorm.

Forced by her flighty mother to abandon Gull House for London, Meredith struggles to settle, still haunted by Angharad and her little red flannel hearts. This time, Verity is not sure she will be able to save her…

Two parallel coming of age stories – one tragic, the other holding out the hope of salvation.

Bibliomaniac's Review

I had not read anything by this author before so it was an absolute delight to start reading and immediately fall in love with the style of prose, the author's beautiful use of language and her compelling storytelling. This book is poetic, mesmerising and lyrical. It is haunting and evocative, full of gorgeous imagery making it quite unforgettable and a book that definitely needs to be savoured and reread. 

I knew I would enjoy this book; after all it's about sisters, a big house, a dysfunctional mother, ghosts and snow. All my favourite elements in one story and certainly a compelling hook! But what I really loved about this book was the writing and the way the story was told.

Lovekin's novel is definitely one that uses the conventions of both the gothic and supernatural genre - and uses them very well. The ghostly element is very effective in creating tension and suspense but also, more interestingly, it is used to develop the story of main characters and run parallel with their emotional journey, reflecting and mirroring the differences and similarities between them. The presence of the ghost helps the sisters, Meredith and Verity, to explore issues that are not only haunting the 'spirit' of a previous girl who lived in the house, but also themselves. The passages by the 'ghost' are written in italics and appear between the sisters' narratives which slip between the present day and the past. With three aspects to the narrative (past, present day and the italics) it might feel that Lovekin is juggling too much but the flow of the novel is seamless and fluent, each stage of the story coming at the right time and the right place. The spellbinding nature of the writing ensures the reader is engage and swept along, caught up with the characters, the tension, the suspense and the emotional events that they are experiencing. 

The characterisation of Meredith, Verity, their mother and their grandmother are exceptionally well crafted and portrayed. The relationships between them are well drawn with precise and poignant detail, and the bond between the sisters well explored. I was so impressed with Lovekin's ability to create engaging and interesting characters, a complex storyline crossing over decades as well as establishing a clear sense of location and place. She is clearly a very talented writer with a vivid imagination. 

The voice of the ghost is distinctive, capturing her class, the historical era from which she lived and her emotional trauma and struggles. Her passages are very poetic and full of imagery as well as carefully structured to enhance their power and resonance. I was intrigued by the voice and longed to find out more about the girl behind it and the events she alludes to. All is revealed with precise and controlled timing. I loved the truly haunting nature of these italicised sections as the harrowing and disturbing truth was revealed gradually, creating an impending sense of threat which lingers over each page. I also loved that Meredith "heard" the ghost and thought the way in which the spirit of the girl revealed herself to Meredith was clever, imaginative and powerful. Lovekin raises some interesting ideas about dreams, visions and a blurring - or confusion - between the real and the supernatural. I loved that the story is suspended between two worlds -or two time periods - and how the reader also feels equally suspended between worlds. The lyricism of the prose leads the reader between dreams, visions and reality. The blend of poetic prose and the very real sounding dialogue between the sisters keeps the reader moving between the past and present, and then back into the further history of the house, in a way that becomes totally absorbing. Before you know it, this house that has such a hold over them all, will also have its hold over you.

Snow Sisters is also about parenting. It is about motherhood and the effect mother can have on their daughters. Meredith and Verity's mother feels quite etherial in her presentation; often distanced and disjointed, disengaged and lost. Lovekin raises issues of trauma, grief and relationships between mothers and daughters. The novel becomes more multi layered as it explores secrets and what happens when they are confronted, past actions and the effect of behaviours on the main characters and the repercussions they have to endure. 

Although it is written in third person, I felt very involved with the characters and very close to them. I thought this was a unique story and one which I was completely captivated and entranced by. I could not put it down. I highlighted numerous passages which I thought were just exquisite and the whole story completely captured my imagination as well as my love for language. As I said at the beginning, Lovekin is clearly a talented writer who combines great storytelling with beautiful prose. It was honestly very hard to finish this book as I had become so immersed in its world. 

Snow Sisters is published by Honno Press on 21st September 2017. 

Don't miss the rest of the Blog Tour for more reviews! 

I was so struck by how much I enjoyed Snow Sisters that as soon as I had finished it, I went back to my bookshelf and dug out Ghostbird, Carol Lovekin's first traditionally published novel, which had been patiently waiting - as I bought it for myself many many months ago -and threw myself back in to Lovekin's writing! 

GHOST BIRD by Carol Lovekin 

Someone needs to be forgiven. Someone needs to forgive.

Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are.

Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search, the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

Again, this is a stunning read. I am in awe of Lovekin's use of imagery, metaphor, language and description. I love the pace, the structure, the characters and the way she explores issues and the secrets of the past in such a mesmerising and hypnotising way. Lovekin's writing is full of Welsh magic and I really enjoy the way she weaves in the Welsh cultural heritage through her writing and compelling characters. 

If you love something a little different, a story that is full of engaging characters then this is the book for you. If you want to be whisked away into a world of lyrical prose, poetic metaphors and impressive, well crafted writing, then this is the book for you. I recommend!

I am so thrilled to have discovered Carol Lovekin and I cannot wait to read anything that she ever writes in the future. It has been so brilliant to discover a new author - and to indulge in two books in one go! 

Ghostbird was published by Honno Press in March 2016.

For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my blog bibliomaniacuk.blogspot.co.uk or website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk


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