Review: Our Castle By the Sea by Lucy Strange



I am ashamed to say that this book has been wedged in my “to be read” stack for almost a year; when I finally pulled it out to start reading I realised what a treat I had denied myself throughout 2019! It is a superbly crafted story, set on the Kent coast during the Second World War, told as a first person narrative by twelve-year-old Petra Zimmerman Smith.

The author, Lucy Strange, has intricately woven a tale combining local folklore about the megalithic “Daughters of Stone” and a treacherous sandbank known as the Wyrm, with a family’s internal struggles as the onset of war wreaks havoc in their lives.

Throughout, the voice of Petra illuminates the tale with her pinpoint observations, discoveries of family secrets and brave embracing of her destiny as the protector of her lighthouse “castle” and final “daughter of stone”. The supporting cast of characters are perfectly sketched, and the relationship between Petra and her older sibling Magda will be completely familiar to anyone who has shared a room with a sister. Alongside the human characters, this writer has breathed life into the lighthouse itself and the passages where the Wyrm slithers menacingly through Petra’s imagination bring a palpable tension to this adventure.

I do not want to give away any details of the plot, other than to say that I hope you will be as gripped by this unfolding mystery of family loyalties, war time saboteurs and internment as I was. I highly recommend this book for anyone aged 10+, it is another wonderful MG story for children to enjoy whilst studying the WWII history topic.

If you love this story, why not try Letters from the Lighthouseand When We Were Warriors, both by Emma Carroll and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.

7 thoughts on “Review: Our Castle By the Sea by Lucy Strange

  1. Ditto! This has been sitting on my shelves since this time last year. I thought Secret of Nightingale Wood was wonderful and very much want to read this. Your review has whetted my appetite too. Unfortunately the nature of book reviewing means that I’ve had to prioritise other books. New year resolution: read this one soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope that you find time and enjoy it. It still amazes me just how quickly the TBR stack grows – and I don’t receive very many books directly from publishers! Since starting my Library & Information Management course in September my reading and reviewing time has been even more compressed; I’m going to have to prioritise very carefully this year!

      Liked by 1 person

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