Book Review: The Little Shop of Found Things by Paula Brackston

Every soul that once trod this brutal earth leaves their imprint upon the things that matter to them. The things that they held, the things that once echoed the beat of their hearts. That heartbeat may yet be felt, faint but clear, transmitted through the fabric of those belongings, linking us to the dear one long gone through however many years have passed. Or at least, some may feel it. Some can hear it’s fluttering rhythm. Some can sense the life force that once thrummed through the golden metal, or gorgeous gem, or even the tattered remnant of a wedding gown. Some have the ability, the sensitivity, the gift to be able to connect to those lost ones through these precious objects.

Xanthe Westlake has the uncanny ability to psychically tune into certain heirlooms, known as psychometry, and being that she, along with her mother, sell antiques, she is quite familiar with this phenomenon. However, when one particular item elicits an abnormally strong reaction, Xanthe is drawn into the harrowing story of a young girl and the secrets she kept.

Guided by her ability, Xanthe soon discovers the abandoned building in the back of her new home has a strong connection to the antique chatelaine, or Victorian ornamental belt, that triggered her psychometic episode. Once the chatelaine and building meet, their transportive potential become clear—Xanthe is sent through time to the 17th century where she witnesses the hasty departure of one young housemaid, Alice, who is accused to theft. As quickly as she was transported she is sent back to her own time where a figure awaits, eager to meet the person she has recruited to save her daughter.

“The chatelaine found you,” said Margaret, lifting a painfully thin hand to point at the silver at Xanthe’s waist. “It sang to you. You found it because of the shop. And now you are here.” She paused gesture at the jail. “Now we can begin.” Xanthe could not find the courage to ask what it was the specter wanted to begin. At that moment she was struggling to make sense of what was happening. First the powerful connection with the chatelaine, and the fact that she had traveled back through time, and now, now she was talking to a ghost. A ghost who, it seemed, had plans for her.

The ghost of Margret Merton threatens Xanthe into completing her task which sets in motion a complex and perilous journey into the past. Rich in detail and full of intrigue, history and a generous dash of romance, Brackston has crafted an exceptional story it what promises to be an adventurous and dynamic series.

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A review copy of this title was provided by St. Martin’s Press

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