Review: The Smuggler’s Daughter by Kerry Barrett

This book’s cover is positively stunning and that’s how it ended up on my TBR list! I love the tempestuous looking sky, rocky coastline, and the pale peach of the girl’s dress on the cover. It suggests innocents and yet something stormy brewing in the sea. Not to mention the title suggests adventure! I love books set on the coast, it’s something so instantly atmospheric about it.

Author Kerry Barrett, has written a couple of other books and while they sound good, this is the one that would naturally stand out to me. I love the description of the book and the setting, and as I noted before, the cover is eye catching. I liked that it’s a duel timeline story with a historical narrative and a modern day one that culminate in the end. This is a storytelling style that I rarely get tired of.

But then there was part of me that was hesitant about this one…..there are a lot of books with ‘daughter’ in the title—The Witches Daughter, The Timekeepers Daughter, The Painters Daughter, The Hangman’s Daughter….the list goes on. Everyone has a daughter and it’s a title that doesn’t really distinguish itself. But nevertheless, I liked the Smuggler portion of the title and I think in a way it did stand out for that.


Only she knows the truth. Only she can save them.

Emily Moon lives with her mother in an inn on a clifftop in the darkest reaches of Cornwall. After her father mysteriously disappears, her mother finds solace at the bottom of a bottle, and the only way to keep afloat is to turn a blind eye to the smugglers who send signals from the clifftops. But Emily knows that the smugglers killed her father to ensure his silence, and she will not let his murder go unpunished…

Present day
After a case ends in tragedy, police officer Phoebe Bellingham flees to Cornwall for a summer of respite. But rather than the sunny Cornwall of her dreams, she finds herself on storm-beaten cliffs, surrounded by stories of ghosts and smugglers – and the mysterious Emily Moon, who vanished without a trace over two centuries ago. As rain lashes down around her, Phoebe determines to find the truth behind the rumours – but what she uncovers will put herself in danger too…

A haunting and moving timeslip novel perfect for fans of The Girl in the Letter, The Forgotten Village and The Witchfinder’s Sister. (summary from Goodreads)


So I will say this—-I liked this one. I didn’t LOVE it in the way that I had hoped but it was ok and a nice way to pass the weekend. I think what bothered me the most was the duel timeline. As I said before, I love duel timeline narratives especially in historical fiction, however there was something about this one that needed a little more for me. I think what bothered me about it in this one was that the book felt too short to support this style of narrative. It came in at almost 400 pages (380 ish) but for some reason it just felt short to accommodate this style of storytelling. It felt like the author was only just scratching the surface of the story, I think maybe 100 more pages the author could have gone a lot deeper into the characters and their stories.

Personally I liked Emily’s story better. Phoebe took me a while to get into, she was ok but I struggled with her character at times where as Emily felt more complete and developed plus she was more relatable and sympathetic for me. I think having Emily have a speech impediment made her more sympathetic for the reader and I felt an instant connection with her in a way that I just didn’t with Phoebe. The alternating stories felt balanced in their delivery but I found myself more anxious to get back to the past rather than staying in the present.

The one thing that stood out for me in this one was the setting. As expected the setting added atmosphere to the book and I thought that it added to the drama and suspense of the story. I liked that this one had a little bit of everything to excite readers—-romance, mystery, history and the contemporary and while it had a lot going on, it didn’t feel busy at all. Overall it was well written and enjoyable but I didn’t love it. For me it had that little something ‘extra’ missing and I am just not sure what that bit was. I liked it and spent a couple of days immersed in it and enjoying the story, setting, and characters but nothing about it really stood out and screamed ‘love me’. If you like historical fiction you will likely enjoy this one, there were plenty of other readers who LOVED it, but for me it was just good. Although I am excited to check out more books by this author to see if there are other books by her that I might enjoy as well.

Book Info and Rating

Format384 pages, Paperback

PublishedApril 1, 2021 by HQ Digital

ISBN9780008430160 (ISBN10: 0008430160)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Harper Collins, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: historical fiction


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