In the last two years I have read a lot of women centric books. Books written by and about women focussed on female readers. I have also read a lot of thrillers with women protagonists. Guilty of reviewing this book a tad too late, I read the review copy of this book at the end of 2016 when I read a lot of other books on mysterious female characters. However, this book isn’t a hit for me for its characters but due the style adopted for its narration. Let’s delve deeper, shall we?
Published by Simon & Schuster, it has the silhouette of a Ferris wheel at dusk as the backdrop. The title is a bold orange and the Author’s name in a bright yellow. Somehow, the mysterious backdrop and the bright font clash giving it a mixed appearance and taking away a sense of mystery. However, the cover relates to the plot, making it slightly more bearable.
The story opens with Nicolette Farrell and her boyfriend in another City. She decides to head back home to Cooley Ridge, where her father is placed in a home for the elderly. Apart from her father, there is her brother and his wife, and her ex-boyfriend, Tyler who are other significant characters in the book. Apart from these there is Corinne, Nicolette’s best friend who goes missing 10 years back. Another character who plays a key role is Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbour and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared who also happens to be dating Tyler and goes missing within days of Nic’s return.
Ten years ago, the town’s fair is in full swing. It is here that Nic has a row with her brother. It is this very night that her childhood friend, Corinne goes missing- never to be found. The case of the missing girl makes all her friends suspects. A lot of secrets buried, a lot of loose ends left entangled. Post this night, the group of friends disperse with their secrets carried with them.
Cutting into the present Nic is back as her brother plans to sell their family home and her father, who seems to barely remember anything has strong resilience to it. It vexes Nic that she cannot convince him to agree to sell the house as he harbours secrets that he refuses to spill. More secrets, more loose ends. This time around yet another girl goes missing. It is the girlfriend of Tyler’s, who also happens to be their only alibi to the case of Corinne going missing. Are both these events related? Tyler and Nic are in the loop once again, more entangled ends, more secrets.
With the introduction in place, the story unfolds from day 15 to day 1 of Nic’s return to Cooley Ridge. This particular style of narrative is simply fantastic as it demands a lot of attention from the reader as it is narrated in reverse. The book is a complex series of secrets and entangled truths. There are unpredictable voids in the narrative which only fill as you read on and there are innumerable questions that build in a reader’s mind, answers to which are embedded in the hearts of the mysterious characters.
Written from Nic’s perspective, it talks about events from her POV. It is her opinion of each character that is used to paint a picture for the reader. They style of narration is definitely the highlight of the book, and with one too many things happening, it is written in language as simple as it can be.
The book demands all your attention (at least that was the case with me!). It is an intricately woven web of secrets and intentionally left voids that will drive you over the edge coaxing you to read the book as quickly as possible. The genius of the Author lies in the fact that there are too many entangled secrets that are very well fabricated to make a fine read. Throughout the book you are constantly guessing what happens next (or rather, what has already passed-as it is a reverse narrative) but you are surely going to be thrown off your track with what the book has in store for you.
Another brilliant aspect of the book is a touch of reality and the interpretation of the human behaviour. It shows how we go to all lengths to protect ourselves and the one’s we love. All the thoughts we constantly push away, that we do not want to be associated with, are laid bare for all to see.
Lastly, each character is shown just as they are. There is no glorification or demeaning of any. None is shown as a protagonist or an antagonist, but just as they are.
Sometimes as you are trying to assemble this puzzle piece by piece, you might get confused a little as the plot, narrative and turn of events demand a lot of attention.
Who do I recommend it to?
Mystery lovers, bibliophiles who enjoy complex yet riveting thrillers are going to savour this.
There were tiny moments, like this, when the grief came on strong out of nowhere. It was sneaky, and tricky, and you couldn’t see it coming until it was already there. It came with the mundane, simple tasks.
You want to believe you’re not the saddest person on earth. That there’s someone worse, someone there with you. Someone suffering beside you through the unfathomable darkness.
That I could be all versions of me, stacked inside one another, and find someone who would want them all. But that’s childhood; before you realise that every step is a choice. That something must be given up for something to be gained. Everything on a scale, a weighing of desires, an ordering of which you want more- and what you’d be willing to give for it.
There is nothing more dangerous, nothing more powerful, nothing more necessity and essential for survival that the lies we tell ourselves.
It’s four walls echoing back everything you’ve ever been and everything you’ve ever done, and it’s the people who stay despite it all. Through it all, for it all. Where you stop fearing the truth. Let it be a part of you. Take it to bed. Stare it in the dace with an arm tucked around you.