The House of Birds and Butterflies: The Dawn Chorus by Cressida McLaughlin #bookreview #NetGalley #TheDawnChorus (@CressMcLaughlin) @HarperCollinsUK

9780008225803

“Abby Field is living the dream. As events coordinator at the Meadowsweet nature reserve on the idyllic Suffolk coast, every day is an adventure with the birds and the butterflies, and she couldn’t feel more at home. When another local nature reserve is chosen as the hot location for a new television series, however, Meadowsweet looks set for seasonal hibernation unless Abby can whip up a creative plan to keep the visitors flocking.

With the help of the Meadowgreen villagers, and her cute rescue huskie, Raffle, can Abby rescue the nature reserve from oblivion? Or will she be distracted by the arrival of a brooding and annoyingly handsome new neighbour”

This is the first part of the four part serialisation of Cressy’s new book, and it is absolutely delightful. Now anyone who has read my blog will know I am a big fan of Cressida’s books. Her last novel, The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse, was my favourite so far and I can already feel this new one worming its way under my skin in the same way.

The main character is Abby Field, who works as a kind of ‘park ranger’ and events co-ordinator at the Meadowsweet Nature Reserve. Abby loves the reserve, and is passionate about the wildlife it protects – the book is filled with little descriptions of the wildlife she encounters day by day which is quirky and interesting – and when it is threatened with falling visitor numbers and competition from a local rival, Abby is charged with reviving its fortunes by her mysterious and slightly cold boss, Penelope, who obviously has a story going on. Throw in a attractive new neighbour with his own demons, and there is plenty of meat to the story.

Like all of Cressida’s characters, Abby is easy to warm to. She is enthusiastic and engaging – I love the way she interacts with the children in the story – but feisty too. I was drawn in to wondering what Penelope’s story was and hope that we find out more about the grand but neglected Swallowtail House that is in someway linked to her past. The first part left lots of questions in the reader’s mind, but also managed to end at a point that was as satisfactory as a partial story is ever going to be. (There is a reason I usually wait for the complete paperback – I am so impatient and would normally devour one of these books in a day or two!)

This author is very adept at including a lot of detail about the location so we can see it clearly in our minds’ eye, but not so much that it drags the story to a crawl and this book is no exception. There is also a rounded cast of local characters, but the main draw if the nature reserve itself. I have never read another book in this genre set in a nature reserve and it makes a refreshing change from all the cafes, stately homes and hotels. I am looking forward to seeing where the story goes in the next three instalments.

Cressida’s books are as light and sweet and cleverly layered as a lemon meringue pie, and I defy you to take a bite and come away without a smile on your face. Roll on part two.

The House of Birds and Butterflies: The Dawn Chorus is out now and you can buy a copy <a href=”http://The Dawn Chorus (The House of Birds and Butterflies, Book 1)“>here. Part two, The Lovebirds, will be released on 6 April and can be pre-ordered <a href=”http://The Lovebirds (The House of Birds and Butterflies, Book 2)“>here.

Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

About the Author

Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David.
Cressy’s favourite things include terrifying ghost stories, lava lamps and romantic heroes, though not necessarily at the same time. She doesn’t (yet) have a dog of her own, but feeds her love vicariously through friends’ pets, and was once chased around a field by a soaking wet, very mischievous Border Collie called Wags.
When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful Norfolk coastline.

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