This surprised me with the bittersweetness of the ending. I guess I was expecting a happier one after The Winter Sea managed to work it all out. Still, it’s satisfying that this dodged my expectations, and in more way than one — it deceived me all the way through about the identity of a particular character, and yet when it became clear, it was suddenly obvious as anything. And I do care enough about the other characters to be a little sad about the way it works out; not everyone is going to be happy, for sure.
This is a slow build, really, with Julia’s slow feeling her way into the past, the lack of urgent drive in either timeline until pretty late on. It’s not my favourite of Kearsley’s books, perhaps, but it was fun to read, I got involved with the characters, and it definitely manages to pin down that sense of place which I’ve enjoyed in her other books. I could almost drift in Julia’s life, Julia’s house, while reading this, just as Julia drifted into Mariana’s world… It feels close enough to touch.