book review, review

Book Review: The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, but first, the blurb . . .

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

This book is DARK!

The story begins all nice and heartwarming. Romilly is living, with her father, in a quaint little house in the Suffolk countryside. He buys her a kitten and all is right with the world. By the end of the book you’re staring, open mouthed, at Romilly. Wanting to give her a hug whilst sobbing “What happened to you!?”

When we first meet Romilly, she is a lovely carefree child, if a little sad. She lives with her Father, a former art teacher, and they’ve recently moved to an quirky old house in the Suffolk countryside (a little side note, this house sounds like an absolutely amazing place to grow up, it has a MOAT!) her mother is not on the scene as she ‘left’ them four years before the story begins.

From the offset you know there is a family secret there, but the beauty of this book is, because it’s told from Romilly’s POV and it also has quite a surreal quality to it, you’re never quite sure if you’ve figured out the true story behind it all, or if you even actually know what’s going on.

Through the length of the book you watch Romilly grow emotionally and physically. By the end of the book, even though only 8 years or so have passed, she is a completely different girl to how she started. Her eyes have been opened to the reality of the kind of people her parents really are, and she has begun to question the world around her. However, because you’ve travelled this journey with her it’s not until you’re forced to take a step back and look at both of them you realise the effect all these events have had on her, and it’s slightly traumatic both for Romilly and the reader.

This is defintely not the kind of story I was expecting, but I think that made the unravelling of the tale even more intriguing. This book has such a multilayered magical quality to it that I feel if I read it again it will be a completely different story.

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