Review: ‘Someone You Know’ by Olivia Isaac-Henry ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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You can trust your family, can’t you…?

Tess Piper was fourteen when her adored twin sister Edie disappeared.

She has spent the last twenty years building a life away from her fractured family, desperate to escape the shadow of the past.

Only now she needs to confront the huge hole her sister’s disappearance left in her life, because a body has been found. The police are shining a spotlight on the Piper family. And secrets are about to surface.

After all, it’s common knowledge that more often than not these crimes are committed by someone close to the victim. Someone they trust. Someone they know…

What really happened to Edie Piper?

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon books and Olivia Isaac-Henry for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This thriller was a quick and gripping read. From early on there seemed to be a glaringly obvious culprit. But was this the case or was the author deliberately trying to mislead us so we are surprised by the truth? I vacillated between the two possibilities many times during this book and later on when I considered other suspects.

The dual timelines with different narrators works well for the story. In the present day we have Tess narrating and see how she remembers her sister, events leading to and surrounding her disappearance, and how it shaped her life and still affects her to this day. In the flashback chapters our narrator is Edie. This allows us to get to know her as more than a body that’s now been found and learn who she was, what she thought from her own perspective instead of through Tess’s eyes. The difference in how Tess remembers things and how Edie viewed things at the time, and how very different the two girls were, adds a greater dimension to the story and gives us more clues as to who could have killed her than if we had just had the one narrator.

One of the themes that runs through the book is the family’s mistrust of the police. This stems from how close family members were suspected back when Edie vanished and things they said were twisted. Determined to find out what happened to her twin Tess begins to investigate for herself, only for her family to dissuade her from doing that too. Could there be more to both these things? Are they actually trying to stop her from finding out a truth they’ve been hiding all these years?

Full of twists and turns this was a thriller that repeatedly surprised me. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good readable thriller.

Out now.

‘The Corset’ by Laura Purcell ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

This gothic novel had been languishing on my shelves for a while when I decided to pick it up as my fiftieth read of 2019. The Silent Companions was one of my favourite reads last year so I began this full of high expectations. I was not disappointed.

Dorothea  Truelove is attracted to the forbidden and isn’t interested in the life expected of her as a wealthy heiress, but in becoming a better and more useful person. She spends time on charitable work which leads her to Oakgate Prison and Ruth Butterham. Sixteen-year-old Ruth is awaiting trial for murder. She grew up poor and was sold to work as a seamstress to pay of her mother’s debts. It is her talents with a needle and thread that she claims enabled her to kill, saying that she has the ability to sew death into the things she creates.

Dorothea and Ruth are two very different women. Dorothea has known a life of privilege while Ruth has known nothing but poverty. Both have suffered loss but the effect it’s had on their lives is very different. When they meet they have outlooks on life that are also different but find that they come to bond over Ruth’s story. I liked both main characters and the author did a great job of writing their diverse lives in a way that made you understand their actions and beliefs. There were some other great characters in this book too. Some I loved and others I despised.

The author highlights many important issues of the time in this novel. There is an interesting look at mental health and phrenology, women’s roles in society and how workers were sold into slavery with no rights and treated appallingly. In particular, I think Ruth’s life and the struggle of the poor in Victorian times was particularly well written. I could almost smell the rot and decay of their dank, desolate and depressing living conditions and feel their terror at being starved, having no rights and the fear of what their cruel employer might do to them for the slightest reason. There were parts of Ruth’s story so harrowing I’d have to stop reading and take a break for a while.

I am so glad that I finally read this book. Dark, haunting, atmospheric, chilling and raw, this was impossible to put down. The story is exquisitely written and has solidified Ms Purcell as one of my favourite authors whose novels are a must-read. There is so much I loved about this novel: the ambiguity, the magnificent writing and that mindblowing ending that had me sitting there in disbelief at what I was reading. I would vacillate from heartbreak to anger to disgust as I read Ruth’s story. To be honest Dorothea’s chapters almost felt like light relief in comparison.

So is Ruth mad or a murderer? Victim or villain? That is something you’ll have to read and decide for yourself. The Corset is an outstanding piece of gothic noir that I highly recommend.

Out Now