Tuesday 27 October 2020

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby Blog Tour

There are some books that are talked about so much before their release that I find myself desperate to read them.

One such book happened to be The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby.

My interest was immediately piqued when I happened upon the front cover. Simple yet effective. The image of a girl with beautiful red hair, looking so wonderfully carefree. 

The tag line: A Picture Paints a Thousand Lies. 

Perhaps not as innocent as one would firstly presume ...

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

Poetic, dream like, dark at times.

The Illustrated Child is like no other novel that I have read before.

Romilly Kemp is just nine years old when her father, Tobias, moves them into a house within the countryside. 

First appearances make everything seem idyllic to anyone looking in. This girl has an enviable childhood, spending her time playing in her surroundings, finding a new friend in a mysterious girl called Stacy and being home schooled by her father.

This is all whilst her father writes and illustrates a new series of children’s picture books with the main focus being Romilly herself and her kitten Monty. 

A mystery begins as the first book (in what turns into a series) is released.

Readers believe that there is a hidden treasure hunt within, in a way they are right, but it isn't the sort of treasure that you can touch.

As the story progresses the illusion of this so called blissful life is shattered. Despite the books doing well, Tobias and Romilly live almost in poverty, as well as being secluded from the outside world. They have little contact with anyone else.

And as this other life is slowly revealed, the mysteries of the books also deepen, clues for everyone - including us as the reader - are woven throughout the pages and the words.

Clever, charming and careful is how I'd describe this tale.


Though sensitive in it's nature, this novel looks at the subjects of mental health, neglect death and dementia (something I unfortunately know all too much about).

My interest was held throughout and I felt drawn in, needing to know what would happen and to who.

There was a big element of doubt. What was real, what was fantasy?

A complicated fairytale.

There are interesting twists and turns, one of which I guessed fairly early on, if you pay attention to the dialogue I'm sure you will too, but it didn't take away from the story at all..

The Illustrated Child is almost gothic in its nature but gentle in its telling

A story within a story, weaved together magically. Emotional and meaningful, it is one that I would happily re-read and perhaps even read as a class book at to older children at school. 

If you'd like to hear more about this fascinating novel then please do join the rest of the blog tour below:

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