The Cottingley Cuckoo – A. J. Elwood

Fairy stories. In all versions. They’re like catnip. And The Cottingley Cuckoo combines fairies with psychological suspense, with history, and an unreliable narrator. The reader does not know what is happening until the very end, and it is such an interesting story. AND look at the stunning cover. That gold foil is just so pretty!

Massive thanks to Sarah Mather and Titan Books for sending me a review copy. All opinions are my own.

RELEASE DATE: 14/04/2021


SUMMARY: Captivated by books and stories, Rose dreams of a life away from the confines of the Sunnyside Care Home she works in, until elderly resident Charlotte Favell offers an unexpected glimpse of enchantment. She keeps an aged stack of letters about the Cottingley Fairies, the photographs made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle, but later dismissed as a hoax. The letters insist there is proof that the fairies existed. Rose is eager to learn more, but Charlotte allows her to read only a piece at a time, drawing Rose into her web.

As the letters’ content grows more menacing, Rose discovers she is unexpectedly pregnant, and feels another door to the future has slammed. Her obsession with what really happened in Cottingley all those years ago spirals; as inexplicable events occur inside her home, she begins to entertain dark thoughts about her baby and its origins. (from Titan Books)

OPINIONS: This is a very interesting book. It is not necessarily one that will make huge splashes, but it is definitely one that I enjoyed. In The Cottingley Cuckoo, the reader doesn’t really know whether what the main character, Rose, is experiencing is real or not until the very end – and even then, it is largely left to the reader to interpret. It is a story about madness and fairies, about reality and shifting perceptions. Interspersed with this are letters about the Cottingley Fairies, from the environs of Arthur Conan Doyle.

This is the kind of slow-burn horror novel that I enjoy – no jump scares, no gore, but simply a lot of creepy and a lot of uncertainty. Neither the reader nor the protagonists know what is happening to them, packaged in a compellingly written narrative. Rose is a great main character. She isn’t special – she is your average person, thrown into a situation that overwhelms her, and had to adjust to this world that she didn’t know how to deal with – and doesn’t that sound familiar.

The Cottingley Cuckoo is the sort of novel that stradles the line between literary fiction and genre writing, that experiments while also using a lot of elements that feel familiarly uncomfortable. It is a solid book and a good read. Add The Cottingley Cuckoo to Goodreads here, or order a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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