Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield #travelingfriendsread #BookBloggers #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook


Charming, atmospheric & lyrically written! 

This was an extremely hard review for me to write because my thoughts are so conflicted with how I actually feel upon finishing this book. I thought the storytelling and the writing was absolutely fantastic but I was never able to fully immerse myself in this tale though. At times I was finding myself a little bit bored with my mind wandering often and at other times I was excited and in awe of what I was reading. 

ONCE UPON A RIVER by DIANE SETTERFIELD is a magical and mysterious tale that takes you on a slow-moving and meandering journey that reminded me so much of a gothic fairy tale. Immediately upon starting this book there is this strong sense of folklore which I absolutely loved and found so appealing. 


I was never really able to fully stay within the flow of this novel though which was very frustrating for me. I do not by any means fault the author for my inability to stay fully focused on this tale though because I really think that I just don’t do well with a slow burn. There was so much that was so appealing and unique about this book that I should have absolutely loved.

This was definitely an enjoyable and entertaining read for me and it is one that I knew that I had to read. I am just a little disappointed that I didn’t LOVE this one more as I absolutely loved The Thirteenth Tale. I think if I didn’t have so many books on my plate right now and I was able to just relax and savor this story……I probably would have loved it. 

*This was a Traveling Friends Read*

Norma’s Stats:
Cover: Eye-catching, intriguing, whimsical, beautiful and a lovely representation to storyline. 
Title: An absolutely fabulous title that is extremely appealing and a wonderfully fitting representation to storyline and a homage to storytelling. 
Writing/Prose: Beautiful, elegant, lyrical, vividly descriptive, whimsical, well-written and fluid. 
Plot: Interesting, enchanting, suspenseful, folklore, intriguing, leisurely-paced, and entertaining.
Ending: Satisfying although I wish that I was able to slow down my thoughts while I was reading this book.
Overall: This lover of magical folklore would absolutely recommend this book!

Thank you so much to NetGalley, Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Diane Setterfield for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this novel.

Goodreads Book Blurb:

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.

Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.

Is it a miracle?

Is it magic?

Or can it be explained by science?

Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale

Have you read this one? Did you love it more than Norma did or have similar thoughts? Drop us a comment! We would love to hear from you!

20 thoughts on “Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield #travelingfriendsread #BookBloggers #askthetravelingsistersaboutourreads #askusaboutourbook”

  1. I loved this one, but absolutely could see how it had some issues with the flow of the story especially at the beginning. It took me quite some time to get into it and had even though of putting it aside. Happy that you mostly enjoyed it.

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    1. Usually with these types of stories I don’t have a problem so it was definitely a strange feeling for me not loving this one more. I am glad that I mostly enjoyed it too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The cover of this book is so beautiful I absolutely couldn’t walk by it without picking it up. I think I would really enjoy this book and would like to give it a chance. Im going to be placing a order on it at the library, although it is a lot of pages I don’t want to rush it. Very good honest review!

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  3. I’m glad you still enjoyed it even with the flow of the story issues. I’ve seen mostly positive reviews for this book, but you just never know. This happens to me quite often with unpopular opinions. Loved your review! ♥️❤♥️

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    1. Thank you so much, Mackey! I am glad that I liked it too and I sure hope that it is a wonderful read for you!!! 🙂

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    1. I agree I definitely enjoyed this one more than I didn’t it was just a frustrating feeling for me that I didn’t love it because I am pretty sure that if I was able to quiet my mind while reading this one I would have enjoyed it more. I hope that your experience while listening to this one will be a great one for you! Happy listening, Jonetta! 🙂

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  4. I loved this book but gothic fairytale mysteries are often my favorite. Thirteenth Tale is one of my all time favorites. I love her writing style and the different characters. I can also see that this book may not be for everyone.

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    1. Gothic fairytale mysteries are my absolute favourite stories as well and that is why I was so disappointed that I didn’t love this one. I am thinking that the timing was all wrong and no fault of the book whatsoever! I am so glad that you loved this book, Cathy. The Thirteenth Tale was one of my all time favourite books as well.

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  5. Great review! I still haven’t read The Thirteenth Tale (and I know I should!) — but I read this author’s previous (I think) book Bellman and Black, and felt kind of like you describe in this review. So, I’m not rushing to read more by this author at this point.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I haven’t read Bellman and Black and not sure if I am going to or not. I don’t remember too much of The Thirteenth Tale but I do remember loving it though. I tend to forget books rather quickly upon finishing them. lol

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      1. Haha! I’m in the same boat too! As soon as I finish a book, I immediately move on to the next and seem to forget the details of the one I just finished. That’s why I try to write reviews right away 😉


  6. I have read the same comments on other reviews. The writing was beautiful, descriptive and lyrical but there were issues with the story itself. I still want to read this one and see for myself, but will go in with my eyes wide open, Great reviews sisters.

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  7. Wonderful, honest review. After reading The Thirteenth Tale, I’m a huge Diane Setterfield fan, and while I didn’t love this book with the same kind of relish, it was exquisitely written. I agree that it was a slow burn. Really, there was no burn at all. It was more about the characters than the mystery of who the girl was and the mythical element felt like a bit of an afterthought even though it was pretty central to the overall story. I’d never say it was my favorite Diane Setterfield and I’m not likely to scream its name from the rooftops, but I enjoyed it. Totally understand your conflicted feelings. 🙂

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