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Call of the Curlew

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Virginia Wrathmell has always known she will meet her death on the marsh in reparation for the mistakes of her childhood. On New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

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Elizabeth Brooks


Selected by Prima as one of their ‘Best Books of 2018’
Selected by TIME as one of their ‘11 New Books to Read in January 2019’
Selected by Southern Living as one of their ‘Best New Books Coming Out in Winter 2019’

One snowy New Year’s Eve, at the age of eighty-six, Virginia feels the time has finally come.

New Year’s Eve, 1939. Virginia is ten, an orphan arriving to meet her new parents at their mysterious house, Salt Winds. Her new home sits on the edge of a vast marsh, a beautiful but dangerous place. War feels far away out here amongst the birds and shifting sands – until the day a German fighter plane crashes into the marsh. The people at Salt Winds are the only ones to see it.

What happens next is something Virginia will regret for the next seventy-five years, and which will change the whole course of her life.


‘An atmospheric, beautifully paced novel about sacrifice, the urge to belong and revenge. It’s full of well-drawn characters I loved to hate, and those that I didn’t want to let go, even after I closed the last page.’
Claire Fuller author of Bitter Orange

‘A beautifully written, atmospheric novel — reminiscent of Jane Eyre… bewitching and haunting’
Eowyn Ivey author of The Snow Child

‘Melodic and beautiful’

‘Really special’
Good Housekeeping

‘A twisty, atmospheric treat’
Woman and Home

‘Part mystery, part gothic saga, part war drama, part fairytale, Call of the Curlew, is set almost exclusively on the edge of a vast salt marsh in Essex… Brooks is excellent at writing place. Salt winds and the marsh – a site of fear, fascination, mystery and death – are very much alive here.’
Joanna Hayden, Weekend Review

‘Guilt, loss, love, thinking back, thinking things over, wondering what if, and living with the consequences…all powerful emotions tossed and thrown around in the Moor winds. Hauntingly atmospheric. Recommended. And can I just say what an utterly brilliant cover!’
The Booktrailer

‘Evocative, gothic, and utterly transportive.’
Arianna Rebolini, Buzzfeed

‘Like Daphne du Maurier, The Orphan of Salt Winds powerfully conjures up a place, a time, and a story that are unforgettable.’
Rosamund Lupton author of The Quality of Silence

‘A careful buildup of suspense will keep readers guessing and glued to the pages.’
Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist

‘In her hauntingly gothic debut, Brooks beautifully mixes bittersweet youthfulness with the stinging pain of past memories… This quietly unsettling tale holds its secrets close, making for a powerful story of loss and longing.’
Publisher’s Weekly

The Orphan of Salt Winds simultaneously functions as a gothic, historical, psychological mystery and bildungsroman. Brooks’ vivid comparison of the beautiful and tumultuous landscape and Virginia’s life is artfully rendered’
Jenee Skinner, The Arkansas International

‘Brooks’ gripping debut is a gothic-noir masterpiece. Atmospheric and mesmerizing, the slow, suspenseful build to the climax is perfectly paced.’
Madison Troyer, Paperback Paris

‘A remote house, a treacherous marsh, and an orphan child are the ingredients in this atmospheric gothic tale from a new British writer…infused with both fairy tale and matters more threatening, Brooks’ novel is persuasively descriptive’
Kirkus Reviews

‘There is a mood of L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between in this delightful tale, a gently elegiac narrative of times long past. It is a gripping and moving story, with superbly delineated characters, excellent dialogue and descriptions… it should be given the wider plaudits this beautiful tale deserves.’
Douglas Kemp, Historical Novel Society