Romilly Kemp and her eccentric father have happy but sheltered lives in a ramshackle mansion in the English countryside. To help make ends meet, he creates an illustrated book with Romilly—striking girl with red hair and a mole on her cheek—as the heroine with her cat, Monty. The book becomes an instant success and their estate is overrun with tourists and adventure seekers after rumors spread that hidden within its pages is an elaborate treasure hunt.
As Romilly gets older and her father writes more books, he starts disappearing within himself. She returns to his illustrations, looking for a way to connect with her ailing father, and finds a series of clues he’s left just for her. But this treasure hunt doesn’t lead her to gold or precious stones, but something worth far more—a shocking secret that is crucial to understanding her family.
The story is of Romilly Kemp, who lives with her father in a mansion in England. Polly Crosby’s writing style is interesting and although appears to follow Romilly’s life, the feeling of the narrative as a whole becomes clear as we learn more about Romilly’s father and what he is experiencing. The story is symbolic of his mind. I felt an overwhelming sadness and frustration as to the characters and their lives.
Romilly becomes the protagonist in her father’s book and it becomes a hit. Readers are convinced there are answers to buried treasure within the pages. As a result of fans of the book visiting their house, Romilly doesn’t leave the house often. Her life is simple and becomes more complex as time goes on.
The secrets hidden in the story kept me reading until the end. Although, I found it a challenging read due to the lack of events within and the overall melancholy mood of the entire novel. I appreciated the storyline, the emotional impact and how her father’s condition was portrayed.