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From the opening chapters of ‘The Gypsy Trail’, I was captivated by the rooftop gargoyles ‘whispering of escape’ and the battlements and spires of a gothic mansion set in the small town of Lednice in the Czech Republic. The atmospheric setting and curious characters could have come from a nineteenth-century classic.
Fifteen-year-old Claudia leads an isolated and lonely and life as she has been left by her parents in the care of a surly housekeeper and a strange schoolmaster. Claudia is ignorant of the outside world and is defenceless against the evil and repulsive gatekeeper. When a flash of colour heralds the arrival of gypsies, who camp in the adjacent Ghost Hollow, it also signals a change in Claudia’s life. As she begins to explore outside her home, she meets new people and learns of her startling heritage. She is drawn to the wondrous world of the welcoming gypsies with their seemingly magical abilities of second sight, mystical healing and astral travel. In the midst of her new experiences, the sudden appearance of Claudia’s parents and the revelations that unfold add an intriguing layer to the overall story.
In this fascinating coming of age tale, Claudia faces challenges and obstacles before she can learn to love and trust and gain a sense of belonging. Nicole Leigh West’s observational skills, powerful imagery and fresh plot make her writing a pleasure to read. I hope she decides to write a sequel to ‘The Gypsy Trail’ because I’d love to know more about Claudia’s destiny. E.M Cooper, Author.
Claudia, the main character of this entertaining and insightful novel written by the illustrious Nicole Leigh West, seems to be a sheltered individual stuck between time and space in a dismal reality gone mad. She uses her imagination to escape from the harshness and hardships of her real life of brutal abuse. Her intelligence and wild imagination is a façade that also becomes her salvation keeping her one step ahead of her tragic circumstances but, keeping her whimsical enough to preserve some semblance of her teenage youth, despite her feeling decrepit, maybe even in some ways and invalid who is lonely and desperate for true love and companionship, which she finds solace in by making up imaginary friends she calls “Snow White and Rose Red.”
Her zest and zeal for life is what helps her endure the struggle. Claudia is an awe-inspiring character with her wittiness and determination to seek out more beyond the walls of her mental as well as physical prison and find the light at the end of the tunnel, and daring to find and embrace hope no matter where it lies. This was an exceptional read and I will promise to read more from this author. Amaria