River of Destiny – Barbara Erskine

River of Destiny


HarperCollins Publishers Ltd

My Rating – 4 stars

This is my first foray into Barbara Erskine territory and I’m delighted to report that I will be back for more!   I am a big fan of dual time-frame novels and River of Destiny has not just two but three different time frames – one set in the distant past in Anglo-Saxon times, one in the more recent past in the Victorian era and finally, a contemporary narrative set in Suffolk.

Echoes from the past haunt the inhabitants of a group of river-side barn conversions in rural Suffolk.   Dutiful wife, Zoe has followed her husband Ken’s dream of leaving the rat-race of London and having easier access to his first love, his boat.  Zoe is not such a keen sailor but she soon becomes preoccupied by the paranormal activity which plagues their new home.  The tension mounts as we gradually hear the stories of past violence and anguish which will inevitably lead to further disaster in the present – these are not friendly ghosts!

Barbara Erskine sure can spin a yarn and she knows how to hook the reader in the first few paragraphs.  You feel drawn into the mists of time, back to the Anglo-Saxon settlement, torn between Christian and pagan rituals, back to Victorian times where the spoiled lady of the manor is desperate for an heir and a spare and she doesn’t care who, when or where.  As is my wont in multiple time-frame novels, I found the contemporary storyline the least engaging but it certainly had an interesting array of personalities from the loud Watts family completed with troubled off-spring, the physically damaged yet charismatic Leo to the interfering busy-body Rosemary. 

Yes, it’s a bit cliched at times but this is definitely an unputdownable read, not so creepy as to keep you awake but you’ll probably still be awake in the wee small hours reading anyway.   I can’t wait to catch up with Barbara’s other novels.

  • Share/Bookmark


  1. I love Barbara Erskine! I think she is an amazing author. This one will be going on my Kindle!

  2. admin says:

    I think I’m a convert, Vivienne! I agree that the Kindle is probably a better option as my wrists are still aching from the ARC!

  3. I love dual time frames too, but I think we’re in the minority – lots of people find them annoying. Thanks for the recommendation, this has gone on my wishlist :)

  4. admin says:

    I didn’t realise we were a rare breed, Sam! Barbara Erskine has a large fanbase so they must be in hiding! ;-)

Leave a Reply