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ARC Review: The Cottingley Cuckoo by A J Elwood


Captivated by books and stories, Rose dreams of a more fulfilled life, away from the confines of the Sunnyside Care Home where she works to support herself and her boyfriend. She hopes the situation will be short term.

Charlotte Favell, an elderly resident, takes a strange, sinister interest in Rose, but offers an unexpected glimpse of enchantment. She has a mysterious and aged stack of letters about the Cottingley Fairies, the photographs made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle, but later dismissed as a hoax. The author of the letters insists he has proof that the fairies exist; Rose is eager to learn more, but Charlotte only allows her to read on when she sees fit.

Discovering she is unexpectedly pregnant, Rose feels another door to the future has slammed. The letters content grows more menacing, inexplicable events begin to occur inside her home, and Rose begins to entertain dark thoughts about her baby and its origins. Can this simply be depression? Or is something darker taking root?


The Cottingley Cuckoo is a chilling mix of fantasy, mystery and light horror.  It’s a mesmerising and beautifully written tale and although dark and sinister it’s compelling and a real page turner.  There’s a constant uneasy and unsettling atmosphere throughout and a creeping dread of what might come, it’s quite bone-chilling at times and gives you goose bumps reading it.

Charlotte is a resident in the care home where Rose works and the story mainly centres around Charlottes’s unusual interest in Rose and their ensuing almost antagonistic relationship.  Charlotte shows Rose a series of old letters believed to be linked to the infamous Cottingley fairies hoax.  As a result of reading these letters Rose is completely drawn in and becomes obsessed with the letters to the point where she begins to fantasise and imagine all sorts of things.  The story took time to build up which wasn’t a bad thing as it created suspense and tension.  I loved the way the present day story brilliantly weaves together with the old Cottingley story.  The author also very cleverly combines two narratives, Rose’s in the present and Lawrence Fenton’s by way of letters from the past.

The characters are all really well portrayed and have depth and authenticity.  Charlotte is not a nice character, she’s menacing and malevolent with a sharp and nasty tongue, and it is obvious from the onset she is shaping and coercing Rose. Rose’s character is a bit mixed up, there is a sense she is on the verge of a breakdown.  On the other hand I liked Rose’s boyfriend, Paul, I’m not sure if we are supposed to but I liked his calmness and the way he nurtured and took care of Alexander even when everything was going horribly wrong.    

The ending was a little bit of an anticlimax and left me feeling slightly unsettled.  I had expected more drama and less ambiguity, some aspects of the story remain unresolved leaving the reader to ponder and draw their own conclusion as to the outcome.  However, this is a powerful and engrossing read and I haven’t read anything quite like it before. It’s an unusual and clever book which you will particularly enjoy if you love stories which are part reality and part fantasy with a chilling atmosphere.

Publisher:  Titan Books
Publication Date (UK):  14 April 2021
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 368
Genre: Fantasy/Psychological Horror
Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy of this book to review.

I hope you enjoyed this review.  For my current reads, recommendations and anything else book related, please follow me on Instagram , Goodreads or Twitter

Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊 

Happy reading!


Twisted in Pages Blog


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