The Illustrated Child

by Polly Crosby

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Book Club Recommendations Debut Books of the Month Debuts Family Drama Star Books Literary Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of The Illustrated Child

A darkly stunning, vivid and evocative debut, so beautiful and unique, we’ve included it in our LoveReading Star Books.

Our November 2020 Book Club Recommendation

Click here to see our Reading Group Questions.

A powerful, provocative, and darkly stunning debut. This is a book that tore my heart into pieces while simultaneously showing me the wonder of love and imagination. Romilly’s childhood is one of fame and isolation when her father includes her as the main character in his books for children. While the world believes that the books lead you on a treasure hunt, a more private and heartbreaking journey awaits Romilly. This isn’t an easy read, but it is a beautiful one. Polly Crosby somehow balances some incredibly difficult issues with a sense of wonder, she really does have the most eloquent pen. The prologue has huge impact, sweet, sharp, and bitter notes struck my awareness, and I reread the words before allowing them full access into my thoughts. I initially felt as though I was stepping into a half remembered mysterious photograph. As bites of reality began to appear, they caused a mental and physical ache for all that was lost and uneasy. As the ending settled and I sat back and contemplated, I concluded that it was the most pure and perfect conclusion. Romilly is so special, she has taken up residence inside my thoughts, and she is more than welcome to spend time there. The Illustrated Child is a vibrantly unique and thought-provoking read, it has been included as one of our LoveReading Star Books, and will sit as one of my favourite novels of the year.

Liz Robinson

The Illustrated Child Synopsis

A young girl. A hidden treasure. A dark family secret. 'Evocative and enchanting - a future classic' Veronica Henry 'An extraordinary debut... beautiful, dark, haunting' Edward Carey 'A captivating coming-of-age story' Daily Mail 'A bewitching read' Woman & Home Romilly Kemp has an idyllic childhood, roaming the wilderness that surrounds her father's ramshackle farmhouse. But when he makes her the star of his beautifully illustrated books, her carefree if somewhat lonely existence is threatened. The books are thought to hold clues to an elaborate treasure hunt, and strangers turn up at their door, anxious to get a glimpse of the 'Kemp Treasure Girl'. But when her father falls ill, leaving Romilly more isolated and alone than ever, she begins to delve deeper into the books - and her past. As she makes sense of the clues he has hidden, she finds a truth that is far darker and more devastating than any treasure hunt has a right to be. For not everything that is hidden is gold. Praise for The Illustrated Child: 'Evocative and enchanting - a future classic and a star in the making' Veronica Henry 'An extraordinary debut... beautiful, dark, haunting and unforgettable. I loved it' Edward Carey 'A captivating coming-of-age story with memorable characters beautifully brought to life in a setting dripping with atmosphere' Daily Mail 'Part fantasy, part coming of age, the undercurrents of child neglect and mental ill health pull at you all the way through this poignant tale' Heat 'A bewitching read' Woman & Home 'Written in fine, delicate prose, this treasure of a debut takes up the palette of emotions and paints with all the colours. Beautiful' Nydia Hetherington 'Exquisitely written, stunning, totally unique. Everyone needs to read this' Jessica Ryn 'A magical tale, beautifully written, evocative and mysterious, and stitched through with a dark thread that I wasn't expecting. What a wonderful book' Anita Frank 'A beautifully written tale that evokes dreams and imagination' Daily Record

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780008358440
Publication date: 8th July 2021
Author: Polly Crosby
Publisher: HQ an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 432 pages
Collections:
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction
Other Genres:
Recommendations:

What To Read After The Illustrated Child

The House at the Edge of the World
Thin Blue Smoke
Back When We Were Grownups
At the Edge of the Orchard

Polly Crosby Press Reviews

Praise for The Illustrated Child:

'Evocative and enchanting - a future classic and a star in the making' Veronica Henry, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Beach Hut

'An extraordinary debut... beautiful, dark, haunting and unforgettable. It is a most wonderfully tender nightmare, a haunted-house childhood where the landscape gets ever stranger, a deeply affecting portrait of the climb towards adulthood. Nostalgic, familiar and yet utterly strange. I loved it' Edward Carey, author of Little

'A bewitching read' Woman & Home

'A celebration of the beauty and dark mystery of [Norfolk] ... Polly will need to brace herself for the attention and acclaim that comes with such a stunning novel' Norfolk Magazine

'Written in fine, delicate prose, this treasure of a debut takes up the palette of emotions and paints with all the colours' Nydia Hetherington, author of A Girl Made of Air

'A beautifully written tale that evokes dreams and imagination' Daily Record

'Exquisitely written, stunning, totally unique. Everyone needs to read this' Jessica Ryn, author of The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside

'A magical tale, beautifully written, evocative and mysterious, and stitched through with a dark thread that I wasn't expecting. What a wonderful book' Anita Frank, author of The Lost Ones

'Crosby weaves a magical spell in which dark-edged fantasy collides with everyday life' Publishers Weekly

'Polly Crosby makes sensory magic, conjuring images of such vividness that I'll remember them always. I'll remember Romilly and her father too: I loved them deeply' Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson

'Polly Crosby's magical debut ... is a story about daughters and fathers... a treatise on how to find hope in a universe rife with heartbreak and loss'

Andrew David MacDonald, author of When We Were Vikings

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780008358440
Publication date: 08/07/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008358402
Publication date: 29/10/2020
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9780008358419
Publication date: 29/10/2020
Format: Paperback

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About Polly Crosby

Polly Crosby lives in Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much-loved Oriental rescue cat, Dali. To find out more about Polly's writing, please visit pollycrosby.com. Polly can also be found on Twitter as @WriterPolly.

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