Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin reviewed

Crooked Daylight Book Cover Crooked Daylight
The Witch Ways
Helen Slavin
Ipso books
August 24, 2016

The Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, were raised in two worlds. Their mother's realm of reason, measurement and logic, and the world inhabited by their spectacularly unconventional grandmother, Hettie. While their mother worked, the sisters ran wild at Hettie's Cob Cottage, discovering forbidden Pike Lake, unknowable Havoc Wood, and what their grandmother referred to only as 'The Strengths'. But time passed, the sisters grew up, work and relationships and their mother's world won them over, and The Strengths lay forgotten... That is until Hettie passes away suddenly, leaving behind Cob Cottage and a whole lot of questions. Anna is busy trying very hard not to cry as she caters yet another wedding, Charlie is spending more time at the job she loves than with the boyfriend she's not quite sure about and Emz is dreaming up new ways to avoid school and the drama that comes with it, but can they deal with strange guests, unexpected danger and some long-forgotten memories?

I confess I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book, Crooked Daylight by Helen Slavin, when I got it. We have the Way sisters, Anna, Charlie and Emz, who wish to deal with Grandma Hettie’s funeral in their own rather different way. Grandma Hettie, it should be explained, lived in a cottage, Cob Cottage, in a very old wood, Havoc Wood, beside a lake, Pike Lake. Now we really shouldn’t jump to conclusions about old ladies, living in old cottages in woods should we…

Initially I felt that the story, not very explicit, gentled rambled around the sisters lives, the old cottage and the local area. There is some humour which is often rather wry. It was whimsical, interesting and maybe a little mystical feel at times. At least two of the sisters seem to have had problems in their lives and they all miss Grandma Hattie. They decide to let Con Cottage as a holiday property for a while although that can’t be said to go very well. That is until the arrival of Seren Lake who stays there and goes from being rather odd to interesting in a fairly short time.

I guess the book could be described as fairly slow until about halfway through enjoyable nonetheless. However that does change – the Way sisters start to discover their “Strengths”. Grandma has introduced the idea to the girls when they were very young – how much can they remember when they need to? Havoc Wood (and other areas of old trees) become characters and are remarkably vivid. Equally Pike Lake – described by Grandma as “black-deep, blue-cold” – has a real presence. The sisters are told not to swim in it by Seren Lake seems to be happy in it.

The second half I found very hard to put down. Good tension and by then good pace and the whole book comes alive. There are good characters here and some very good writing. The ending had me shouting out loud – very unfair, when is the next one and I want to read it!

Note – I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review