Magpie Lane

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Pub Date 02 Apr 2020 | Archive Date 02 Apr 2020

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'The word-of-mouth success of lockdown . . . riveting, twisty, page-turning stuff' Guardian

A 'best books of 2020' pick for the Guardian, the Telegraph and Good Housekeeping

'The page turner you've been looking for. Sly, witty and gripping . . . I devoured it' Naomi Alderman
'An utter joy . . . wonderfully skilled' Sarah Perry
'Tender, creepy and gripping' Sunday Times
'Spellbinding and spooky . . . a dazzling high wire act, superbly absorbing' Sunday Mirror

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master's Lodging - an eerie and ancient house - a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford's secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family - and what it is to be denied one.

'Enthralling . . . creepy and compelling' The Times
'Deliciously dark' Alexandra Shulman
'A gorgeously satisfying triumph' Lucy Mangan
'A rare thing . . . simply stunning' Daily Express
'I was gripped . . . highly original' Alex Clark
'Creepy, suspenseful' Independent
'One of the most intriguing narrators since Notes on a Scandal' Sara Collins
'Grown-up and cleverly written . . . a dizzying sense of uncertainty' Literary Review
'Keeps you guessing . . . a real sense of menace' Good Housekeeping
'Wholly beguiling' Mick Herron
'Dazzlingly good' Diane Setterfield
'Beautiful writing' Polly Samson
'Clever, tense and twisty' Amanda Craig
'Highly intelligent' Sarah Vaughan
'Simply brilliant!' JP Delaney
'Darkly atmospheric' Jane Fallon
'Clever and creepy' Erin Kelly
'Highly recommended' Louise Candlish

'The word-of-mouth success of lockdown . . . riveting, twisty, page-turning stuff' Guardian

A 'best books of 2020' pick for the Guardian, the Telegraph and Good Housekeeping

'The page turner you've...

Advance Praise


'Complex, creepy and insidious' - Guardian

'Atmospheric' - Metro

'Enthralling' - Heat


'Complex, creepy and insidious' - Guardian

'Atmospheric' - Metro

'Enthralling' - Heat

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781786485571
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 94 members

Featured Reviews

Thanks to Netgalley and Quercus Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A cerebral, atmospheric thriller - unmissable and unputdownable.

If Alan Turing, Colin Dexter and the Brothers Grimm created the novelistic equivalent of a love child it would look like "Magpie Lane". Where to begin? Well, I suppose I should start by saying that although the prefix 'psychological', almost automatically predates 'thriller' or 'mystery' by publishers keen to see their novels propelled ever upwards to the top of the best seller lists, this one truly lives up to its billing. It is driven first and foremost by Atkins acute understanding of the human condition, exemplified by the keenly observed cast of characters in this book. You will meet a whole gamut of personalities in "Magpie Lane", from the affable to the despicable, who propel this mystery every forwards to its hugely satisfying conclusion. The mystery at the heart of the plot is like finely woven silk. It begins with the disappearance of 8-year-old Felicity, who is selectively mute and our primary narrator is Dee, Felicity's nanny. Through Dee and the subsequent police investigation we learn more about Felicity herself and her family. Yet there are questions for the reader: is Dee a reliable narrator of the events that led up to Felicity's disappearance? Is the nanny protecting herself, Felicity's parents or the child herself in her selectively edited version of events? Via the non-linear narrative of Dee's recollections from before and after Felicity's disappearance, the Gordian knot is eventually broken, bringing about a more than satisfying conclusion to the mystery of "Magpie Lane". With its atmospheric, gothic, meta-setting of Oxford, alluring vignettes of myths and fairy tales and its siren-song to the oeuvre of mathematics, this a cerebral thriller that you simply cannot afford to miss.

#MagpieLane #NetGalley

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A taught and compulsively clever psychological thriller that you can’t put down!

A live-in nanny, a dysfunctional blended family, a selectively mute little girl and the hallowed grounds of Oxford University all come together with unexpected results.
All told from Dee’s p.o.v as she is being interviewed by the police about the disseverance of her employers eight year old daughter, Felicity, this is not the fastest paced thriller or the most action packed but it is full of some great characters who are in turn endearing, comical, vile and downright despicable as well as parts of Oxford that get brought to life across the pages, it is most certainly a page turner of a book.

The whole book is brimming with tension and atmosphere as the events lead up to Felicity’s disappearance and beyond to a conclusion that you probably won’t see coming.

If you are a fan of psychological suspenses then you are in for a treat with this book.
I am a relatively slow reader but I gobbled this book up in two sittings as I just couldn’t put it down!

Magpie Lane will be published on 02 April 2020 and is available to pre-order now from your local bookshop or Amazon

A massive thank you to the author Lucy Atkins, publishers Quercus Books and NetGalley for my digital copy of the book in exchange for an honest and independent review.

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I enjoyed this book immensely and read it over a cosy evening.

Dee is a Nanny. We are told bits of her past and left to wonder until her back story is fully revealed.

Felicity is selectively mute. I have worked with children with this condition and must commend the author on her accurate portrayal of this character. Her parents are well meaning, but ultimately do not have her best at their heart.

With myth and fairytale woven in , this story grabs you and holds on.

I wasn’t wild about the ambiguity of the ending, but it’s my personal preference for books to end ‘properly’ with well thought out explanations.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for my copy of this book.

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The eight year old daughter of an Oxford College Master has gone missing. The police start to question her nanny, Dee, and through Dee’s thoughts we learn of a dysfunctional family hidden behind the facade of success.

This is an interesting and unusual book. The story is told as Dee looks back on the events leading up to Felicity’s disappearance. This isn’t a straightforward linear story but is intertwined with Dee’s thoughts on the police who are interviewing her. To begin with I found this slightly confusing but as I got into the swing of it I found that I enjoyed this unusual way of narrating a story. It is definitely worth persevering if you feel put off at the start.

I am not going to give any spoilers about this book. The reader needs to make the discoveries about the family as the story unfolds. You do need to bear in mind that everything is being told from Dee’s point of view. How much of the story is coloured by her past & her thoughts?

The story flows well & moves along at a reasonable pace without there being much real action. However even little things are of great importance to the main story. The plot is well constructed with some interesting twists and turns along the way.

I really enjoyed this unusual book. I was left with some interesting questions once I had completed it – not to do with the actual story as this was neatly sewn up. It was more to do with the rights and wrongs of what happens throughout the story.

A great book which I really enjoyed.

I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.

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Magpie Lane is a book that teaches you as you read. I thought I was picking up a psychological thriller/crime novel, when actually I have learnt about oxford, mathematics and more about wallpaper than I ever thought pertinent (actually fascinating stuff - did you know there’s a certain kind of toxic green wallpaper?). Books that make you feel smarter for having read them (I’m looking at you, ‘The End of Mr Y’) are some of my favourite books. Not to be confused with laborious literary tomes (those are important too), books like Magpie Lane pick at different areas of your brain, making you come alive as you read. Lucy Atkins has not written a passive experience, you are in conversation with her story throughout the whole novel. It truly is remarkable.
At no point did I know where the story was going - I could not work out the mystery of what happened to Felicity. Often when I pick up a crime/thriller novel, I expect a racy story with okay writing (probably says more about my choice of book than the genre as a whole), but Magpie Lane blew me away. It is spectacularly well written. This review sounds excessively gushy but it’s all true. I almost wish I was still studying English Lit so I could write an essay on it.
The primary setting, an interview between our protagonist and the police, is intercepted with Dee’s rambling stories of her time living and working with Nick and Mariah Law. Felicity, Nick’s daughter, has selective mutism and a penchant for curiosities (skulls, stones, witchcraft). It was brilliant to read an eight year old girl written with interests like Felicity’s - it reminded me of my little sister’s fascination with snails and woodlouse when she was tiny. We are not all sugar and spice and everything nice.

I received a copy of Magpie Lane by @lucyatkinswriter through @Netgalley for a review. Magpie Lane will be published by @quercusbooks in April 2020.

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This is deliciously clever. A woman goes to look after the mute child of an Oxford professor and his second wife. She is pregnant, the wife before..well her story comes out, and what happens to the nanny and her relationship with those in the house?

From the start, the creepy overtones of this novel were deliciously delectable. There is something off, something odd from the start. You would think an Oxford man in a rich house would have his life together but there are some very strange goings on. As the nanny discovers more, there are odd questions to ask...
Then the worst happens, the child goes missing the night the nanny has been sent to see a show in London. The step mother is horrified, the husband too. But who is telling the truth and why not?

What I loved about this was the gothic overtones and the many scary visits to Graveyards! The little girl seems obsessed with the occult, ghostly friends and there is even a priesthole in her bedroom. These were holes in chimneys or hidden panels in homes where priests would hid from those who wanted any religious men killed. Henry VIII's purge of the churches added to this mytery So why is a child so keen to learn about the dead, why does she arrange her toys in a circle?

The journey to the end is well paced. The nanny is being questioned by a policemen and all the evidence seems to point to her, but then it could be the mother, the father, the child many red herrings to enjoy!

The story flashes back to the days leading up to the child going missing, the day the nanny met her employer, the history of all those in the story. Then the delicious threads of intrigue all come together.

Recommended! You won't see Oxford in quite the same way again!

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