Fiction

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

About the Book

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

What I thought

It’s an unusual story this one.  Not really sure what genre it fits under. Some have described it as a coming of age story but I think it went a little deeper than that.  I did on the whole find it quite slow and the ending I thought incredibly sad.  If you’re a fan of happily ever afters you’ll be in for a bit of disappointment with this book.

It didn’t help that I read through some reviews when I was part way through the book and someone gave away what I thought was quite a vital piece of information.  It kind of spoiled part of the book for me because I knew what was coming, when really it should have been as much of a shock to the reader as it was to Romilly.  I wouldn’t do that, if you want to know you’ll have to read it.  I got half-way through then broke off and read another couple of books before I took up reading it again.  I’m not entirely sure I’d have made it to the end if I’d read it all in one go.

There aren’t many characters in the book and the story revolves mainly around Romilly who doesn’t go to school and doesn’t really get out much.  She spends most of her time at home and wandering the surrounding area which I did find quite claustrophobic, but then we’re all in that boat right now aren’t we.

The book starts out with Romilly aged 10 and moves on through her childhood spent living with her Dad.  Her mum makes intermittent appearances but on the whole its just Romilly and her artist/author Dad.  He writes a series of books featuring illustrations of Romilly, their home and Romilly’s cat.  The books suggest that there are clues within the stories and especially the illustrations, which may indicate the location of treasure hidden around the family home.  Romilly does befriend a girl of a similar age to her called Stacey.  A rather wild child who I was never that keen on.  She seemed to be quite controlling of Romilly.

The very ending I didn’t really understand.  It lost me, leaving me with some unanswered questions.  But that’s OK, I like endings to books where you’re not quite sure what that ending actually is, it’s left open to a certain extent for the reader to make their own interpretation perhaps?  Or perhaps it’s just me and I didn’t ‘get’ it.  Like I said at the beginning of this review, it was very sad at the end and it certainly made me think about life.  That you should live each day as it comes and make the most of it because you never know when it can so suddenly change and turn on its head.

I’m glad I finished it, it was perhaps a little slow but the revelations in the last part make for a very emotional read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

♥ Happy Reading ♥


The book is due for publication on Thursday 29th October in hardback and in e-book format.

With thanks to the publisher HQ for an advance copy via Netgalley.

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