Today I’m delighted to be on the blog tour four the fabulous The Companion by Sarah Dunnakey. Huge thank you to Leanne Oliver and Orion Books for my copy of this book and for the chance to be on the blog tour.
How do you solve a mystery when the clues are hidden in the past?
The Companion is a beautiful and powerfully-told story of buried secrets, set between the 1930s and the present day, on the wild Yorkshire moors.
Billy Shaw lives in a palace. Potter’s Pleasure Palace, the best entertainment venue in Yorkshire, complete with dancing and swing-boats and picnickers and a roller-skating rink.
Jasper Harper lives in the big house above the valley, with his eccentric mother Edie and Uncle Charles, brother and sister authors who have come from London to write in the seclusion of the moors.
When it is arranged for Billy to become Jasper’s companion, Billy arrives to find a wild, peculiar boy in a curiously haphazard household where nothing that’s meant is said and the air is thick with secrets. Later, when Charles and Edie are found dead, it is ruled a double suicide, but fictions have become tangled up in facts and it’s left to Anna Sallis, almost a century later, to unravel the knots and piece together the truth.
The sense of atmosphere the author creates is stunning. I loved the descriptions of the pavilion and all the fun that could be had there. I so wanted to go there and experience it all for myself. The brightness and fun of the pavilion is contrasted brilliantly with the loneliness and wildness of the moors which helped create a claustrophobic effect around High Hob and the residents there.
The friendship between Billy and Jasper was an interesting one. I enjoyed reading about their childish adventures on the moor and the games they played. It made me feel nostalgic for my own childhood as I remember trying to hunt pretend beasts. However you always felt there was a slightly sinister edge to it, especially in some of the challenges Jasper set Billy. Their relationship is also made more complicated by their differences in class and that Billy was technically an employee at High Hob.
Billy was my favourite Character in the book and it was lovely to hear the story from his innocent point of view. The love he clearly has for his family and the pavilion leaps from the page and is very touching to read about. He only seems to need simple things in life but it upsets him when these needs, mainly visits to his family, are unable to be met.
The story is told from both Billy’s and Anna’s point of view in alternating chapters, and I enjoyed both sides or the story and the slow unravelling of the mystery of the Harper’s deaths. This made the story very addictive and I found myself flying through the chapters trying to discover more about the Anna and Billy’s story.
This is Sarah’s third novel but The Companion is the first book by her I have read so I really look toward to reading more from her. If you like Kate Morton or Victoria Hislop you will love this book!
About The Author:
When she’s not writing fiction, Sarah writes and verifies questions and answers for a variety of TV quiz shows including Mastermind, University Challenge and Pointless. She has an honours degree in History and has previously worked as a librarian, an education officer in a Victorian cemetery and an oral history interviewer.
Sarah has won or been shortlisted in several short story competitions and her work has been published in anthologies and broadcast on Radio 4. In 2014 she won a Northern Writer’s Award, from New Writing North after submitting part of The Companion. She lives with her husband and daughter in West Yorkshire on the edge of the Pennine Moors. Follow her on Twitter @SarahDeeWrites