Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull

Imagine if you couldn't see
couldn't hear
couldn't speak...
Then one day somebody took your hand and opened up the world to you.
Adeliza Golding is a deaf-blind girl, born in late Victorian England on her father's hop farm. Unable to interact with her loving family, she exists in a world of darkness and confusion; her only communication is with the ghosts she speaks to in her head, who she has christened the Visitors. One day she runs out into the fields and a young hop-picker, Lottie, grabs her hand and starts drawing shapes in it. Finally Liza can communicate.
Her friendship with her teacher and with Lottie's beloved brother Caleb leads her from the hop gardens and oyster beds of Kent to the dusty veldt of South Africa and the Boer War, and ultimately to the truth about the Visitors.

The Visitors by Rebecca Mascull was published in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton on 17 July 2014 and is the author's first novel.

Historical fiction - with ghosts. I've found that I have a love/hate relationship with ghosts in fiction. There are authors who are utterly convincing, I'm thinking Susan Hill and The Woman in Black here, and there have been times when I've taken a book and thrown it down in despair because the ghostly thing is just not happening for me. I often have the same problem with historical fiction, I struggle with unfamiliar language and often feel as though it is a barrier that stops me from immersing myself totally in the story.

So, it was with some hesitancy that I decided to read The Visitors, but I was swayed by the fact that a few of my trusted blogger friends had read and enjoyed it, and by the cover. Oh that cover is so delicious, I'm a sucker for a lovely cover, I really am.

The Visitors is the story of Adeliza (Liza) Golding, a young deaf-blind girl and is narrated in her voice. The reader accompanies Liza through her life, from the moment of her birth. Also accompanying Liza are the visitors; unseen, and only heard by Liza and a strange and quite odd presence throughout the story, yet it is Liza's visitors that for me, added another dimension to what is a well-constructed and quite unique story.

Rebecca Mascull's characters are vivid and larger than life. The reader follows Liza as she grows and matures, not only in years, but also in confidence and capability. She has created a friendship between Liza and her friend Lottie that is endearing and enduring.

The sense of place, as Liza and Lottie travel from England to the horrors of the Boer War portrayed in the letters received from Lottie's brother Caleb is incredible. Caleb himself is a flawed character, and I found it quite difficult to warm to him, although I thought his and Liza's developing relationship was carefully and sensitively written.

The Visitors is not a long novel, but there is a lot packed into the 250 pages, and although it is clearly a work of fiction, I enjoyed learning about the development of sign language which has been researched very well.

I enjoyed the story, the style of writing and the very different setting and themes in The Visitors, this is a very good debut novel and I look forward to reading more from Rebecca Mascull in the future.

Check out other blogger reviews from Lindsey at The Little Reader Library;  Lainy at So Many Books, So Little Time and Janet at From First Page To Last

Rebecca Mascull lives by the sea in the east of England with her partner Simon and their daughter Poppy. She has previously worked in education and has a Masters in Writing.  
The Visitors is her first novel.

For more information about Rebecca Mascull, visit her website
Follow her author Facebook page
and on Twitter@rebeccamascull

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  1. Sounds like a good read. I'm a bit like you with ghostly writings, but this one sounds quite an emotional read.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I enjoyed it very much Lisa, thanks for commenting x

  3. So glad you liked it Anne, I thought she did it really well too