Once Upon a River

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 22 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you Atria Books for gifting me a copy of this book, and inviting me on to the blog tour for this book, in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own.  I rate this book a 4 out of 5 Stars. 

As many others have said before me, this was a richly atmospheric book, that I wholeheartedly did not want to end. This is one of those rare books that can be written with such rich detail, but doesn't completely bog you down at the same time. It's descriptive, and lyrical, and whilst reading it, it feels like you are holding a small piece of magic in your hands. This is my first Setterfield book, and I am so genuinely pleased with her storytelling capabilities that I cannot wait to read more. This is definitely one of my top five Magical Realism books! 

There are a lot of characters in this book, and the pacing may throw some readers off, but if you don't mind either of those, than I totally recommend you pick up this book. Not only is the cover beautiful, the story and writing style is too. I am not sure that I have came across anyone that has disliked this book. 

I've included a Goodreads link incase you want to know more about the book, or to purchase it.
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The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield was one of my favorite books of all time.  I had really high hopes with ONCE UPON A RIVER and they were definitely met.  In this third novel, we are back to the story telling mode that made me fall in love with her as an author.  When a broken man and a seemingly dead child show up at The Swan, the local pub (full to the brim with storytellers) goes into overload about who she might be.  It’s equally about who the rest of the characters are at their core and what defines a family.  It's a novel about the truth and lies that come into storytelling and the magic of them. Setterfield is able to generate curiosity and compassion for people during the novel, just as the stories told in The Swan do with the patrons.  The ending was unpredictable and really well done on so many levels.  There are a few times in the novel where the reader will want Setterfield to move it along or where you might have to flip back to see who is narrating, but the rest of the novel is very engaging.  It’s a smart and haunting novel that I hope is followed up by another story soon!

I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.
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Once Upon a River, a grown-up fairy tale that celebrates the art of storytelling. On a winter solstice night, 1800s, an injured stranger stumbles into an inn near the river, and in his arms is the body of a young girl. One moment she's dead, and in the next — she lives. 

The members of the small community are fascinated with the girl. Who is she? What happened to her? And more important, how is she now alive? Families come forward claiming her as their lost loved one, but the girl only focuses on the river.

The writing in this book was quite lovely and lyrical. The story itself moved at a languid pace like the meandering river at its heart. While I was very curious about the mystery surrounding the girl, there were parts where I felt the story was too wordy and my interest waned. Still, Once Upon a River is a unique read that will appeal to lovers of magical folklore. (3.5 Stars)
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Once Upon a River is magical and dark and made for a truly enjoyable reading experience. The first chapter drew me into the story instantly and made me want to keep reading. I really enjoyed the mystery. It was woven throughout the entire novel and I think it was done well. It kept the story intriguing. 

One thing I love about Diane Setterfield is her storytelling abilities. If you’ve read The Thirteenth Tale, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Her writing feels like a story that has history, a story that’s been passed down through generations. It just feels like something special. I am a loyal Setterfield reader, and this book definitely cemented that. 

I did like the characters, for the most part. I do think this book had a few too many, and at one point, there were just too many to keep track of. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of books that have an enormous cast of characters, and this book involved pretty much everyone in town. I liked the ones I could remember (basically those in the beginning of the book), I just wish they’d been pared down a bit. Overall, not a deal breaker – they are all great characters – just something to keep in mind if you have trouble keeping track of more than a handful of characters.

Most of the time, when I talk about having high expectations, they’re established before I start reading a book. In this case, the first chapter was just absolutely incredible. It really blew me away. And the rest of the novel, while still great, didn’t quite live up to that first chapter. I did enjoy this book a lot, but I also found myself wishing it was a little bit shorter. This is a very long novel, and I just wanted it to be tighter and more concise. Personally, I think it would have been a bit stronger. 

Overall, though, Once Upon a River is a great novel. Diane Setterfield is a master storyteller, and she came up with a unique and intriguing story.
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I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield brings to mind Matryoshka Dolls with its stories within stories. At the heart of all the stories is the river and the little girl who was dead and is now alive. There are stories that will break your heart, stories of love and family, stories of great evil and sorrow all winding around each other and coming back to the river. I very much enjoyed enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it. Publishing Date December 4, 2018 #NetGalley #onceuponariver #DianeSetterfield #AtriaBooks
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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 / 5 rounded up. 

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield was such an amazing book that I never wanted it to end! But since it had to end and it has, lets review it... 

What it's about: It is a winter night at The Swan at Radcot, an inn sitting on the bank of the Thames, and storytelling is in full swing. They always tell stories there, especially the owner Margot's husband Joe who happens to be the best storyteller of them all. On this night, storytelling is abruptly interrupted when a man walks in with the corpse of a little girl and promptly falls over unconscious. The little girl seems to be dead, but a few hours later she is definitely alive. As everyone wonders how this could be, 3 possible parents come forward thinking the girl is theirs. Thus begins the story of who she belongs with and what will happen next.

I LOVED THIS BOOK! It is highly atmospheric and although it may be considered overly descriptive by some, I was so caught up in the story that I was totally into it. There is a very magical quality to this novel, and it reads a bit like you are reading a fairy tale which I personally loved. The imagery of the writing really brought the book alive for me and it was a very enjoyable experience. 

There are a lot of characters to remember in Once Upon a River, and it reminded me a little bit of The Clockmaker's Daughter in both the bounty of characters and atmospheric style in which it is written. Lots of detail, lots of characters, but also lots of fun to read (at least for me).

I don't think the pacing is overly fast or anything, and this is one of those books you want to savor instead of speeding through. For a lot of people, this is also a book you will find best read with no distractions. Every time I picked up Once Upon a River I was transported to another world and the magic of the Thames. It also made me really want to visit The Swan which is an actual place! This is a book that contains folklore and some historical fiction, so if you are into one or both of those things I think it is definitely worth checking out. 

Final Thought: If you love books that are richly atmospheric and read like a fairy tale then I highly recommend reading Once Upon a River. This book made me an instant fan of Setterfield whom I have never read a book from before. The mystery was great, and I didn't know what was going to happen until I got to the end. There are some sad parts, and some tough subjects, but also lots of joy and humor. This book is pure magic and I hope you decide to pick it up!
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Once Upon A River book review - no spoilers - 
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A quiet, eloquently written tale taking place in a small town based around a river which sets the scene for stories to be told both new and old. Welcome to Thames River, and more specifically The Swann Inn, a location known for storytelling. As the residents are gathered to hear yet another nightly tale, in storms an injured stranger holding an unconscious young girl. It seems all is lost... until it isn't and the seemingly dead girl stirs.
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There are plenty of interesting characters, Rita in particular was one who captured my attention, as well as intricate relationships and folklore.
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This novel is a slow, deep brew. Be prepared to spend some time with this one otherwise you won't fully appreciate it. .
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I'd recommend this one to fans of The Monsters of Templeton. .
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Thank you to #netgalley and #atriabooks for the advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review. .
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Like her stories or not, DIane Setterfield is an incontestable Master Storyteller. 
In a literary world where average seems to be enough to produce a book, Diane Setterfield beautifully writes magical, atmospherics, well constructed, books with a touch of eerie and mystique.
It is very fitting that Once Upon a River takes root around the old art of story telling in a time when stories would travel and be the only communication mean.

This mesmerizing book takes place in England, in an undefined time about few hundred years ago. It is a mystery about a little mute girl saved from the river Thames, claimed by many and belonging to none. Who is this little girl ? why does she seems to be a puzzle piece for so many families ? How are all those people connected beyond their claim on the girl ?
The river Thames is akin to a main artery bringing life and connection to the many characters. Like a river the story is slow going but  written in wonderful prose. it is enthralling and inviting. Reading Once Upon a River feels like slowly eating the best chocolat cake to make it last longer.

There is always a lot of anticipated buildup with a much celebrated author and eagerness from the reader to recapture the love affair he/she had with previous books. Well this one did not disappoint, it will take you places in a gentle almost un-perceivable way. 


Thank you to the publisher Atria Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review
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This novel centers on a river in England and a typical village along the water. There is mystery and intrigue throughout and rich characters that are interwoven in multiple ways. The various storylines lead the reader through many emotions. Just when you think things are wrapping up neatly, the tale repeatedly takes an unexpected turn. I am sad to see the characters go as I read the final chapter of Once Upon a River.
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Once Upon a River is beautifully written in an older fashion that was a breath of fresh air for me. Meeting the storytelling characters and following along as 3 different sets step forward believing the little girl the story is centered around belongs to them in some way. It is a slow paced book, but sometimes those really are the best and have a hint of magic in them. Sometimes when we tell a story often enough, it becomes real to us even if we knew it never was. Whimsical, beautiful, and deserving to become a classic.
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I was excited to get my hands on this; I liked but didn't love The Thirteenth Tale but I also really liked what I heard about this one in advance of reading it. It turned out to be an excellent pastiche of a Victorian, or maybe more like early 20th century, fairy-tale. There are ever so small hints lurking on every page of fey sentimentality and precious whimsy - but Setterfield does manage, most of the time, to stop herself in time before those moments interfere with the reading experience. Overall, the plot is beautifully constructed (if fairly predictable, in a fairy-tale sort of way), and although I'm sure many readers will mind how the mystery is "resolved", I was ok with so many of the threads left hanging. Overall, a lovely and undemanding pleasure!
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3.5*
A captivating story that will take you on a journey.
A stranger walked into the local inn late one night, soaked, still dripping from the cold river. In his arms he’s cradling a child, motionless. Everyone rushes in to assist. The stranger is close to death and the child, already gone. 

The owner of the inn sends for the village nurse. She tends to the unconscious man and only then confirms the girl’s death. But something doesn’t feel right to her. Suddenly her trained intuition is correct…as the child begins to stir.

Everyone in the village comes forth, almost like a pilgrimage, to witness this possible miracle. And to claim the youngster as theirs. So who is this mysterious child? And how did she ever end up in the river, only to be rescued by a stranger.

Diane Setterfield writes a beautiful story filled with magic and mystery. Though at times it was a bit too far out of my comfort zone, I hope you enjoy it and allow yourself to be taken down that river.

A buddy read with Susanne!

Thank you to NetGalley, Atria and Diane Setterfield for an ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.
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This was a very different book. The story was not terribly original: little girl found, perhaps a little magic as she comes back to life, but who is she? And the story takes off from there. The authors develops the most interesting and original characters and that is how this story shines. These are characters that live in your mind well after the book is finished and that is a true measure of a 5 star book for me. But....wow, did it move glacially slow in the beginning! I almost set it aside a couple times in the beginning. Because of that I had to give it only 4 stars. But that slow start isn’t a deal breaker, so stick with it and you’ll be happy. 

I would like to thank NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
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setterfield is a great story teller and enjoyable to read
would recommend this to a reader looking to escape for a few hours
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I have read nothing like Once Upon a River. A more modern fairy tale? Quite a bit of suspense and mystery…and wonder…and charm…

Once Upon a River takes place in a historic ancient inn on the River Thames in England. This inn is famous for its storytelling and its storytellers, and in fact, when a mysterious stranger with obvious physical injuries incoherently bursts into the inn with a commotion, stories are in the midst of being told. The stranger eventually passes out, but not before the body of a dead young girl is removed from his arms. 

But she’s not dead. She comes back to life. Was she ever dead? Questioning miracles, science in the age of Darwin, and magical powers; which one caused the girl to be alive again?

I felt like Diane Setterfield was sitting by the fire in an ancient English inn telling me a story. I’ve never heard her voice, but I’ve imagined it. She followed me on Twitter, which has me majorly star struck, I must say, especially when she tells stories this way. Ahhh! 

Sitting by that roaring fire, I snuggled right up into this book. There was something warm about it, a touch dark, romantic, tense, mystical, and every one of those things added up to a book I quite simply adored. 

This is another one of those novels that requires patience on the part of the reader. While it reads smoothly, it’s a chunk of a book, and it’s one you will savor. So much imagination and inventiveness went into this gem, and it’s worth every extra minute of investment to get to the heart of the full story. In other words: I give this one my highest recommendation. If you can be patient, that is. ♥️ 

Thanks to Atria Books for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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Just finished reading/listening to this incredible book by Diane Setterfield, & I absolutely loved it!

One night at an inn on the Thames, the regulars are listening to a story when a man bursts through the door.  He is gravely injured and holds a bundle in his arms. The people quickly call for the village nurse and start tending to the man, and it's not until after the nurse treats the man that they realize the bundle he carried was the lifeless body of a 4 year old girl. Declared dead for several hours, having been assessed by the experienced nurse as having no breath or heartbeat, she miraculously wakes and opens her eyes. Who is she? Could she have really been dead and come back to life? To whom does she belong? What follows is the story that answers these questions, breaks your heart, and sweeps you away along the Thames River. .

I thoroughly enjoyed Setterfiel's book The Thirteenth Tale, but I'm going to say this one was even better.  She has the perfect style to tell a tale such as this with skill and humor and intelligence. There is a huge cast of characters, each with a distinct voice so you never get confused. I cruised through this book in just a couple of days. All the stars. I highly recommend!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BrGhWnHl8zp/utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1qz3dt0ysiflp
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I don't know where to start my review with this book.I'm speechless, this is a captivating and unique story.I enjoyed how the various stories spin around each other and tie together , it was so entertaining.
The novel begins on the night of the winter solstice where this cosy atmosphere gets shattered by a strange man, severely injured carrying a rag doll. The ragdoll turns out to be a little girl, dead on arrival. Or is she?

It's so brilliant and the mystery around the story so fantastic.It's a story that will make you think about it for a long time.
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A big thank you to @atriabooks and @netgalley for a free copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.
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I have been anxiously awaiting this release by Diane Setterfield since I read and loved The Thirteenth Tale.
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Once Upon a River puts the Thames center stage and weaves together the stories of several characters who live along its banks. A little girl is pulled from the river under mysterious circumstances in the opening of the book.
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I don’t want to give away any plot because this book deserves to be enjoyed with no clues to the storyline. I will say that Setterfield is a master of setting an atmosphere of mystery. This has the feel of a timeless tale and had me guessing until the very end. It is a book about storytelling and is the finest example of storytelling I have read in a long time. It’s a contender for one of my favorite books of 2018.
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This was such an interesting story and something that is incredibly unique. The author introduces a peculiar event that sets a town on a thrilling adventure that combines scientific knowledge and something a little magical. It was a delight to read.
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It's really hard to review this book. Let me start by saying Diane Setterfield's writing is uniquely beautiful, something to be admired and appreciated. However in this case, there's just too much of it. This book seemed to go on forever without really going anywhere. I was bored by the story itself and can't say I enjoyed it. Not that it was bad, just that it wasn't for me and I probably wouldn't recommend it.
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