The Swimming Pool was a good summer read, offering a character-driven psychological drama against the backdrop of an English summer in London. Set over the course of the school summer holidays, it follows teacher Natalie Steele as she discovers the new local swimming pool, forms some sinister friendships and discovers quite a bit about herself.
Natalie is somewhat stuck in a rut. She and her fellow teacher husband Ed live by a structure of strict regimes, with a small but dependable group of friends and young, slightly overprotected teenage daughter; they are almost the epitome of sensible. Ed, it seems, is naturally this way, but Nat has intentionally chosen a life of routine due to some murky events in her past which are gradually revealed. In her past, she wasn’t always such an upstanding citizen, and she’s ready to rebel again when she meets her glamorous, alluring neighbour, Lara Channing, at the local swimming pool. Continue reading
I received Dare To Remember in exchange for an honest review
Dare To Remember is an interesting, well-written debut, but I’d recommend you don’t go into this expecting the fast-paced thriller that the blurb suggests. It didn’t exactly set the world alight, but it is a good, slow-burning psychological drama and a character study.
The story follows a couple of years in the life of Lisa Fullbrook, opening immediately after a brutal attack. Lisa and her best friend, Ali, were attacked in their own flat, and Lisa wakes up groggily in hospital – she’s the only survivor. Shaken by the loss of her friend and haunted by survivor’s guilt, Lisa moves out of the city to a small village, where she lives a reclusive life trying to work through her trauma. Continue reading
I received He Said/She Said in exchange for an honest review
Erin Kelly is an author who I’ve meant to read for years – I’ve actually had her debut The Poison Tree sat on my shelf for longer than I can remember. I finally got around to trying this author when this new release popped up on Netgalley, and I loved it.
The story starts as Kit, a serial eclipse chaser, is leaving his pregnant wife Laura behind to see the 2015 eclipse abroad. The writer takes us back in time, to the first eclipse the couple watched. At a festival in Cornwall years earlier, the two witnessed their first eclipse together, but they also witnessed a brutal attack on a girl named Beth, which changed the course of their lives forever. Continue reading
I received Foxlowe in exchange for an honest review.
Using a naive young protagonist as our narrator, Eleanor Wasserberg peels back the layers of what life may be like living within a small commune or cult, realistically portraying the effects of brainwashing from a young age and what can happen when one follower stands out from the crowd.
There’s something distinctly chilling about Foxlowe right from the opening lines of the first chapter; “Tiny red beads came from the lines on my arm. These soft scars gave way like wet paper.” It’s told from the point of view of Green, a young girl growing up in Foxlowe, a mansion housing a commune within the English countryside. Isolated and sheltered from society, the ‘Family’ (as they call themselves) have developed their own set of rules and way of living; they believe the Bad is everywhere Outside, where people have become corrupted by money and power. They live self-sufficient lives, growing their own crops for food and creating artwork which they sell at local markets to raise money. There’s echoes of paganism in their rituals, living right by the ‘standing stones’ they mark the Solstice twice a year, and celebrate the harvest of that autumn brings. Continue reading
I received The Roanoke Girls in exchange for an honest review.
The Roanoke Girls had everything I wanted – a mystery set in a sprawling farmhouse mansion, dark family secrets and complicated relationships. But it won’t be for everyone. This book deals with some extremely serious, dark and disturbing subject matter – to call the Roanoke family dysfunctional would be a huge understatement. If you’re a reader who is triggered easily, I’d perhaps suggest you avoid this one, but if you like your stories dark, twisted and multi-layered then read on.
The ‘secret’ of the Roanoke family is revealed quite early on, but I’m not going to spoil it here. Because, to be honest, if you knew the subject of this book, it could put you off reading. I actually think this book is one that is best when the reader goes in fresh, and just soak up the characters and atmosphere for yourself. Because, if you’re anything like me, it will suck you in completely. Continue reading
I received The Book of Mirrors in exchange for an honest review
“I remembered the title of Flynn’s book and the maze of distorting mirrors you used to find at carnivals when I was a kid – everything you saw when you went inside was both true and false at the same time.”
This book left me with mixed feelings. The writing style felt slightly unnatural to me, almost devoid of emotion and more just a relaying of various facts about the characters’ lives. Each of the main narrators had their own romantic entanglements but I really struggled to care about them, and, to some extent, all of their voices felt very similar.
But, on the other hand, this psychological thriller has an intelligent, strong, multi-layered plot which, despite some issues with the narrative, was enough to carry it through and keep me avidly reading. Continue reading
I received The Dry in exchange for an honest review.
I love a good psychological thriller. And The Dry, I’m happy to say, is a perfect example of the genre at its best. I saw another reviewer ask ‘What’s debut-ish about this debut novel?’ The answer has to be nothing. Australian debut author Jane Harper has given us a book which is tense, atmospheric and truly difficult to put down.
Let’s first talk about the setting. The Australian outback, a quiet farm town suffering an inordinately long drought “Officially the worst conditions in a century”. It’s so well-written the tension is palpable, the scene visceral. Add to this a family murder-suicide and things start to get interesting. Continue reading
I received Good Me, Bad Me in exchange for an honest review
This was a great start for 2017, a little depressing but great. Good Me, Bad Me is powerful debut which packs an emotional punch, offering a glimpse into the psyche of a damaged girl
Annie is starting life anew. She’s been given a new name and a new foster family and she’s ready to try to move on from the ghosts of her past. But before that, she must give evidence in a court case, where her mother stands trial for 12 counts of child murder. She’s the daughter of a serial killer, and it takes more than new surroundings to erase the ghosts of her past. Continue reading
I received While You Were Sleeping in exchange for an honest review.
This the third novel I’ve read from Kathryn Croft, and she never fails to have me gripped and entertained throughout her stories. They can be a little farfetched, but suspending disbelief often goes hand in hand with this genre, and they’re always fun to read.
In one of the most original openings to a story I’ve come across, Tara wakes up lying in bed next to her next door neighbour. She’s naked, and he’s dead, the victim of multiple violent stab wounds. With no memory of how she came to be there the night before, Tara flees across the road and back to her own family. Continue reading
I received Local Girl Missing in exchange for an honest review
This was my first Claire Douglas read, and it definitely won’t be my last – in fact, I already have her hit debut, The Sisters on my Kindle ready to go! This was exactly the type of psychological thriller I love; thoroughly entertaining with a page-turning plot, authentic characters and plenty of dark secrets from the past coming back to haunt.
Twenty years earlier, Sophie went missing aged 21 after leaving a nightclub. Her best friend, Frankie, has since moved away and moved on with her life as a successful hotel proprietor, but she’s dragged back to her past when she receives a call from Sophie’s brother informing her that a body has been discovered. She returns to her hometown to help Sophie’s brother, Daniel, identify the body and find answers. Continue reading