The Unseen – Katherine Webb

This is the second Katherine Webb that I have read and has been languishing on my shelf for a while. I felt it was time to read it as it was chosen as one of my challenging reads for this year.

This is a dual narrative book, which is something which I enjoy immensely. Set in 2011 and hundred years previously in 1911.

In the present, Leah is asked to discover who a body might possibly be discovered near Ypres clearly from the First World War. No other identification on the man other than two very intriguing letters. Written by a H Canning.

Hester is married to Arthur Canning, local vicar of Cold Ash Holt. They have a new member of staff in their house, recently released from prison, Cat. Although Hester knows the reason behind Cat’s imprisonment she does not want anyone else to know. Sadly though, the strong-willed behaviour of Cat and the continual hacking cough, make many start to wonder?

Everything should be rosy for Hester and Arthur. Expect something is missing in this marriage and her husbands, obsession with nature and his odd beliefs start to bother Hester. When a fellow enthusiast is invited to the house to stay with Arthur and Hester it seems this obsession is going to turn to murder.

This is not a surprise, the book cover is quite clear this is what is going to happen. However you have no idea exactly when this is going to occur, why and by whom. It is a guessing game throughout the story and is parallel to the discoveries that Leah is trying to make in the present section of the novel.

I enjoy Webb’s writing, she manages to weave a story full of mystery and cynicism and if you have any prior knowledge of the story of the Cottingley Fairies. But whilst the similarities and parallels to this are throughout the book I was pleased to see how something so powerful as suffragism and the treatment of suffragettes was brought straight off the page and made the idea of fairies seem a fanciful one.

An enjoyable and compelling read.