Review: Wren by Lucy Hope

Written by Lucy Hope
Cover illustration by David Dean
Published by Nosy Crow

Wren is a mesmerising, dark gothic adventure that completely captured me as I was swept in to the mystery surrounding the ancient castle and Wren’s struggle for freedom. 

12-year-old Wren lives with her Pa, brother Tudur and Aunt Efa in their ancient castle on the island of Anglesey in North Wales.  Her Ma had died two years before following an accident which left her aunt paralysed. 

Wren has an indomitable spirit and longs for the freedom to be herself; however, her father demands that his daughter behaves like a responsible young lady undertaking needlework and studies.  When it seems that he cannot control her, he threatens to curtail her freedom by sending her to the much-feared Anglesey Institution for the Re-Education of Young Women run by the sinister Aireys. 

Angry and trapped, Wren is determined to escape her fate and puts in motion her plan to build a flying machine, an artificial bird, to help her gain her freedom from the constrictions of her home and the possibility of her incarceration in the Institution …

Wren loves being outdoors and especially sailing in her coracle and looking for seabirds.  She is mystified when she hears strange sounds coming from her home, sounds that seem like the house is singing.  Alongside this, the foundations tremble and cracks appear in the thick walls.  What family secrets are hidden within the castle, and will Wren be able to reveal them?

This is a truly incredible adventure which took me on the most unexpected path as I followed Wren and her friend Medwyn as she uncovers her family’s dark past and as she fights for what she believes in, despite the consequences.  I loved the blend of history, myth and fantasy within the story as well as the focus on strong women who fight against the expectations of Victorian society and follow their own path and their dreams.

Wren is the most wonderful young girl whose story is both heart-wrenching and hopeful.  She fights against the boundaries placed on her by her father who appears cruel and uncaring towards her.  She is lonely and finds re-newed friendship with Medwyn who is a kind-hearted, supportive friend with his own secrets.  She feels trapped and longs for freedom, hence her desperation to fly as this symbolises freedom to her.  She wishes to carry on her inventor mother’s legacy and gain success where her mother failed, in honour and memory of her mother.  She shows a great deal of empathy when she finds another who is trapped and in need of her help.

A heart-wrenching, stunning and unforgettable adventure that completely and utterly enchanted me, perfect for readers of 9+.

Thank you to Toppsta and the Publishers for a copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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