Sarah A. Denzil
Standalone or series
First time reading this author?
Why I picked this
The sense of mystery from the description and the cover image. A little girl found alone, a sense of strangeness which could take the plot anywhere.
Review copy or purchase
Review copy via publisher Victory Editing and NetGalley UK in exchange for an honest review.
What it’s about
When Fran meets a young girl in old-fashioned clothes standing alone in the park while she’s out in her morning run she’s intrigued. That the girl and her very young mother, who very shortly afterwards turns up delighted to find her daughter, display finger tip shaped bruises is only one of the reasons Fran is worried about them. Having suffered her own family trauma Fran is drawn to the Whitakers, the father, mother and young daughter who have very recently moved to her small Derbyshire village.
This is one of those books that ended somewhere very differently than I expected at the beginning.
There are hints that the Whitakers are hiding a secret. Is there something sinister or are they just misunderstood by people judging them for their different background. When the Whitakers disappear almost as suddenly as they first appeared in the village Fran is driven to track them down to find out if mother and daughter need rescuing. The journey takes her many miles as she finds links to an insular religious community in rural Arizona with an charismatic leader.
Looked at objectively the plot in the second half of this books is over the top, really stretching the boundaries of the reader’s credulity. It’s a tribute to the writing, and the slow character development which took place in the first half of the book, that it remains gripping.
A tense domestic thriller which at times felt like there was the potential for a darker almost supernatural explanation. The truth is dark, but still very human. Fran’s grief over the loss of a child years before, and her guilt for having engaged in gossip about the Whitakers which she fears may have driven them out, are the stories which hold this together.
A great read for a winter’s night when you can hug your own family close after reading.