The Book’s First Line: “When it starts again she is face down on her bed with her hands over her ears and she feels it more than hears it. A vibration through the mattress, through the flowered duvet, through the damp pillow she’s buried her face in.”
What The Blurb Says: Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties and a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote house on a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else’s – or so she thought.
Then one night violence was unleashed in the crooked house, in a nightmare that only Alison survived and from which she’s been running ever since. Only when she falls for the charismatic Paul does Alison realise that to have any chance of happiness, she must return to her old life and face a closed community full of dark secrets. As she seeks to uncover the truth of what happened that terrible night, Alison begins to question everything she thought she knew. Is there anyone she can trust?
Thirteen years ago Esme Grace was the only survivor of a horrific attack which left her family dead. Now with a new identity and haunted by the events of her past, Alison must return to the scene of her childhood to face the terrifying truth about what really happened that night.
The novel is told from the point of view of Alison, an isolated, and secretive young woman struggling with her made up life and the pain of losing her family.
The novel starts with an effective opening which really grabbed my attention. The narrative is made up of both the present day and flashbacks of Esme as a teenager leading up to the terrifying night that changed everything. The characterisation is very effective within this novel with the constant internal struggle of Alison and her sense of grief and pain make this story both compelling and believable.
I felt the setting of the strange and eerie coastal village where everyone knows each other’s secret really came to life for me. I liked that the characters were all part of a closed knit community who closed ranks and regarded Alison/Esme as an outsider even when she was a child.
The underlying secrets and lies which litter the story make this a very atmospheric read and set both a paranoid and unsettling tone for the novel.
An effective and twisty psychological mystery set in a mysterious close-knit community.
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