Thursday 1 September 2016

Review ~ Sandlands by Rosy Thornton

Sandstone Press
July 2016

A bit of blurb..

This beautifully written short story collection is inspired by coastal England, by the landscape and its flora and fauna, as well as by its folklore and historical and cultural heritage. Several of the stories focus on a bird, animal, wildflower, or insect characteristic of the locality, from barn owl to butterfly. The book might be described as a collection of ghost stories; in fact, while one or two stories involve a more or less supernatural element, each of them deals in various ways with the tug of the past upon the present, and explores how past and present can intersect in unexpected ways.

My thoughts about the stories..

You know that feeling when you reach out and open a storybook, that indefinable something which tells you that this is going to be something special, well, that happened when I opened Sandlands. I think partly, it was due to the glory of its cover as I can never resist an owl, but mainly it was down to the content, which drew me in from the beginning.

When it comes to short story reading, I am a bit of a butterfly; I flit and fly from story to story, never in sequential order, choosing stories at random simply because I like the sound of the title. So true to form, I was first drawn, in this collection, to the short story, The Watcher of Souls, as it spoke to me of the heart shaped faces of barn owls, a bird forever shrouded in mystery and all too often the harbinger of doom. I wasn't disappointed, far from it,  in fact, I was enthralled by a story that had me on the edge of my seat. Neither was I disappointed with my next choice which was The Witch Bottle, a dark little tale about the power of witchcraft and the threat of superstition.  I was so engrossed in The Witch Bottle that, by the end, I really wanted to go back in time to the Suffolk of 1656 to meet with Daniell Parmenter.

There’s a lovely lyrical quality to each of the stories and the author captures time and place so beautifully that it really is difficult to single out one story above another as each are perfectly complete. And yet, what's so wonderful about Sandlands is that even though each tale is beautifully complete within itself, such is the power of storytelling, that any single one of them, and there are 16 in total, could easily become a gloriously, descriptive novel.

Sandlands is, in that age old tradition of storytelling, a tantalising glimpse of times past which irrevocably connect with the future. It is a collection of short stories which could be woven into the fabric of our being, stories which deserve to settle like the folktales and legends of old, and which I am sure, will delight and enthral readers.

 "You dig up secrets and they cannot be put back "

Best Read with.. A glass of strong Suffolk ale and freshly caught Dabs, charred over a driftwood fire..

About the Author..

Rosy Thornton is a Fellow and Tutor of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a lecturer in Law at the University of Cambridge, with specialisms in housing law, charitable trusts and feminist legal studies. She has published five novels, including Ninepins (Sandstone Press, 2012) and this is her first short story collection. She divides her time between Cambridge and the Suffolk sandlings.

Rosy Thornton portrait

Discover more about Rosy on her website click here
Follow on Twitter @rosy_thornton
Find on Facebook

My thanks to Rosy for sharing this delightful collection of stories with me.


  1. Thank you so much for your lovely, generous review, Jo!

    1. You're welcome, Rosy. Thanks for a great collection of stories. I loved them :)


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.