The Goldhanger Dog by Wanda Whiteley

My enormous thanks to Ben McClusky at Midas PR for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Goldhanger Dog by Wanda Whiteley and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I’m delighted to share my review of The Goldhanger Dog today.

Published by Lammas on 26th May 2022, The Goldhanger Dog is available for purchase here.

The Goldhanger Dog

1553. Goldhanger, a tiny fishing village on the Blackwater marshes. Fifteen-year-old Dela’s strange bond with animals has her branded a witch by the locals. Running for her life, with only a rescued dog for a friend, Dela manages to find sanctuary at the palace of Princess Mary. These are dangerous times, with the boy-king Edward on his deathbed and the succession uncertain. Traumatised at first, in an alien world of spies and courtiers, Dela is befriended by a trio of acrobats and players. But when she is drawn to one of them, Fitz, she discovers he holds a terrible secret that promises to tear her fragile world apart.

My Review of The Goldhanger Dog

Dela’s life is about to change.

I had no idea what to expect from The Goldhanger Dog and as a cat lover I wasn’t anticipating a great deal if I’m honest! What I found was an absolutely wonderful historical story with just a touch of magical realism to make it absolutely entrancing. I absolutely loved this book.

The setting of the Essex marshes is so evocatively portrayed that I found myself transported back in time, travelling with Dela, Bessie and Turnspit. Wanda Whiteley’s descriptions give just enough to create an image in the reader’s mind without slowing the plot so that The Goldhanger Dog is such an absorbing read. I thought the domestic and more courtly settings were just wonderful, with the clothing, food and animals in particular bringing the story to life.

The plot itself is fascinating. It simply races along with exciting twists and turns and considerable peril perfectly balanced by quieter, emotional moments that include romance and friendship and bring a tear to the eye. Set against the historical events of the mid 1500s, what Wanda Whiteley does so well is to illustrate how national conspiracies and political manoeuvrings impact the ordinary person, through Ned and Dela. I thought the cast list at the beginning of the book was an inspired touch – especially as Fitz bears my maiden name of Fitzjohn which gave me an instant connection!

The characters are wonderful. They embody every human trait from love to hatred, obsession to selflessness, traitor to loyal friend so that the reader has a strong response to them. Dela is striking and her resilience, her power over animals and the tragic life she endures mean that it is impossible not to care completely about what happens to her. I loved Fitz too, but it was Turnspit who truly stole my heart. What a brilliant, intelligent and faithful dog he is.

The themes woven into the exciting story give it a texture I loved. Identity and belonging, hope and despair, the effect of kindness for example, are equally as relevant to today as to the 1550s so that The Goldhanger Dog feels important and resonant as well as hugely entertaining.

I absolutely loved this story. I think it would be perfect for younger teenage readers too, making The Goldhanger Dog a book the whole family can share. It’s a smashing book and I thoroughly recommend it.

About Wanda Whiteley

Wanda Whiteley is co-author of the memoir, Streetkid, which spent three months in the top 10 of the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers list. The Goldhanger Dog is her debut novel.

In addition to her role as founder and Editor-in-Chief of Manuscript Doctor, she is an independent consultant for Writers and Artists, and previously worked as a Publishing Director at HarperCollins for over a decade. This year, she will be running her first life-writing workshop at the Atelier de Scriitori retreat in Transylvania.

You can follow Wanda on Twitter @wanda_whiteley or visit her website for more information.

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