Cassandra Golds – The Museum of Mary Child

Heloise lives with her godmother in an isolated cottage. Next door is a sinister museum dedicated to the memory of Mary Child. Visitors enter it with a smile and depart with fear in their eyes. One day, Heloise finds a doll under the floorboards. Against her godmother’s wishes, she keeps it. And that’s when the delicate truce between Heloise and her godmother begins to unravel . . .

Heloise runs away. She journeys far, but one day she must return to uncover the secret at the heart of her being.

Heloise lives with her stern godmother, who considers most pleasures in life a Waste Of Time. Heloise hasn’t had the pleasure of listening to music, or dancing, or enjoying a beautiful picture, or even reading anything other than heavily-censored bible. She has never been allowed the company of other children, and must play games in furtive stolen moments. She is starved for affection, but when she discovers the doll under a loose floorboard in her bedroom, everything begins to change.

Heloise, however, is not as alone as she thinks.  Heloise is aided by a network of well-placed mice who work alongside the Society of the Caged Birds of the City. And perhaps up until now, Heloise, very mouse-like herself, hasn’t really shown us anything out of the ordinary. Indeed she doesn’t think of herself of being much of a person at all. But when she is placed in the care of Old Mother’s Choir of Female Orphans, Waifs and Strays, Heloise begins to develop in such extraordinary ways the reader will be utterly enthralled.

This tale is rich in imagery, from the truly chilling Museum of Mary Child and the mysteries trapped within it to the Dickensian city whose lungs seem filled with the gloom of those trapped within the buildings, yet always tinged with a ray of light from those determined to help ease the suffering of others.

A hauntingly beautiful fairy-tale, deeply melancholy in a lot of places,  suffused with hope and faith in the goodness of the human spirit, and the assuredness that animals always know better than people and will always be there to rescue us from our despair.

Rating: ★★★★★


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The Museum of Mary Child