What’s it about?
Kate Rafter is a successful war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped Herne Bay and the memories it holds. Her sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.
But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return to the old family home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.
What secret has Kate stumbled upon?
And is she strong enough to uncover the truth . . . and make it out alive?
I’m not sure what to say about this book except waw and waw again! It’s amazing this is a debut novel. I mean seriously? I just didn’t know what I was getting myself into when starting this little treasure. Just make a promise to yourself that you go into this novel blind, like I did. In return you’ll get one hell of a ride. I will tell you though that this book was reminiscent of another novel – that I’m not going to name – that I read and loved and which also took the story down a similar road. I’m rating this book 4.5 stars because I liked it very very much but I felt slightly less emotional when reading the tragedy unfold in this book, due to the narration by another POV in the second part of the novel whereas we got to know Kate better already in the first part and I built up more of a connection with her, so it felt slightly less personal and intimate. That being said, this novel still grabbed me from start to finish and is so worth to read.
Having lived in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father, a sister Sally who was the apple of his eye and a subservient mother, Kate is none too pleased to have to come back to her childhood home in Hearne Bay after her mother’s death. Her sister Sally never left town and followed in her father’s footsteps, having become an alcoholic herself, and having driven her own daughter away. When Kate arrives the only one there to welcome her back is her sister’s husband Paul who tries to reconcile the two sisters.
The first part of the book is about Kate’s interrogation at the local police station. They need to determine if she’s not a threat to herself or anyone else. Alternated with the interrogation are chapters with the experiences of her return to her childhood home and the memories of her dysfunctional family, an abusive father and a grieving mother made her leave home as soon as she could. There’s a long lead up to the reason of her arrest which is kept very vague for a good portion of the novel and made me doubt and question every single sentence. She’s seeing things and hearing voices and it’s hard to determine what’s real and what’s not. I had no idea where the story would lead and what the conclusion of the police would be but at least I got a good feeling for the reasons why this was happening to her.
The truth is Kate’s functioning on sleeping pills and seemingly falling apart because of what she experienced while reporting for a tv station in Aleppo, Syria. Especially a little boy called Nidal made a deep impression to her heart and mind and he haunts her thoughts day and night. What’s worse is that police officer Shaw demands a detailed account from her last trip to Syria which is just too painful for her to recall, and I got the strong feeling that her personal tragedies led up to her arrest. There are other mysteries as well where the answers were kept under a closed lid for a long time: the circumstances as to which her baby brother died when she was little, the reason why her sister Sally is so hostile towards her and didn’t get along with their mother for so long and why Sally’s daughter does not want to get in touch with her mother. Whatever it was, it must be pretty important if it caused her daughter to avoid all contact.
The author did a brilliant job weaving the storylines of past and present together. They made for a truly captivating story. Sally’s life was interesting but Kate’s life was even more fascinating to read about and stood out for me; I loved getting to know her and the personal and work-related tragedies she had to live through, and then I hadn’t even started part 2 yet where tragedy strikes yet again for Kate. What a blow! While I was still digesting the new reality, there’s another plotline surfacing so unexpectedly and taking the novel towards such a very different turn of events that I felt my heart hammering in my ribcage until I turned the last page. The author has written such a clever and complex read, woven together against a perfect backdrop.
I am absolutely and positively sure we will be hearing from this author again in the near future!
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.