Title: The Briarmen
Author: Joseph A. Chadwick
Date Published: April 14th 2021
Publisher: Crescent Swan
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
When Hamish Beasly is evacuated to the quiet countryside village of Brombury he is taken in by Mrs. Platts and her daughter Penny. At first Penny is far from happy with her new house guest, but after she and Hamish discover and befriend the Briarmen, four fantastical creatures living in the forbidden Woods Beyond The Railway, they are bound together through a shared secret. Then comes the Blitz, and with it rumours of a German plane crashing into the woods. This sparks concern from the village and puts Hamish and Penny’s secret at risk, a secret they soon find out is no longer their own...
Thank you to Crescent Swan Publishing for gifting me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
This story is set in the village of Brombury at the start of the second world war and follows our two main characters; Penny and Hamish, as they discover the secrets of the nearby forest – The Briarmen – and how this experience shapes their understanding of the world and of human behavior.
Throughout the book, the story is endlessly enchanting and brought us a great deal of friendship, discovery, and unexpected twists. The setting was expertly written, set in World War II this had an easy feel with all the richness of a historical novel. The writing was smooth and made reading this book a delight. The history was made to feel very tangible and it really felt as though this was exactly what a village in the second world war would have been like – with the added fantasy element!
Accompanying this well thought out and charming story were some excellent characters. Penny and Hamish were at the forefront of this story and I loved watching their friendship grow and develop. And of course, I adored The Briarmen, they added such a fun fantastical element, and each brought such a unique personality and perspective to the story. I loved our introduction to them and enjoyed learning more about them through Penny and Hamish.
Chadwick did a wonderful job of bringing every aspect of the story to life, I could really picture the woodlands and every adventure the children had was brought vividly to life. I especially loved that Penny and Hamish were typical children, there was no forced connection or romance, just an unbreakable bond of friendship. I also really enjoyed Chadwick’s portrayal of these two great characters who were quite the opposites of each other, but ultimately, they become the best of friends. Hamish is sensitive and kind, and Penny had a bit of temper and a desire for adventure and pushing the limits. I enjoyed seeing these two characters interact and learn to appreciate one another more, and I liked that they balanced each other out really well.
I thought the pacing was ideal, it was a nice leisurely pace, but things were always in motion and happening ensuring the story always had me gripped and I sped through it in no time. A lot happened throughout the story and each chapter/ scene added something important for the story. The ending was excellent and felt right, and the addition of the epilogue and prologue giving us an insight into the character decades later was perfect. I couldn’t have left this story without knowing what became of The Briarmen and our two wonderful protagonists.
Overall, it was a delightful read, full of magic, friendship, history, and a good dose of surprises. I enjoyed every moment of this book and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable, heart-warming read that offers a wonderful combination of history, action, and friendship.
Rating: 4.5 Stars