The time has come again to face an impossible task of narrowing the 117 books I have read into a top ten list. As always it was difficult to do but I have managed and I will list them in no particular order. Apart from my favourite book of the year which I will reveal at the end. You can see my review for each book by clicking on the title.
Expectation by Anna Hope.
If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman.
The Photographer Of The Lost by Caroline Scott
Changeling by Matt Wesolowski
Red Snow by Will Dean
From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron
On My Life by Angela Clarke
The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor
The Girl At The Window by Rowan Coleman
My Book of 2019
Turbulent Wake by Paul. E Hardisty
About the Book
In November 2014 Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and sister to death with a hammer. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.
I was thrilled when I heard that there would be a follow-up novel to the brilliant Six Stories which I enjoyed immensely.
The author has followed the same format, that of a series of six interviews. One with Arla and the others with friends she knew from school and some that she had met on holiday. A few of them requested anonymity.
It takes place in NW England. Instantly I noticed the ‘accent’ was extremely accurate. It’s not something I see often. It was evident throughout the whole book and is one of the reasons that I would like to listen to the audio book.
Arla admits her guilt but her reasoning is chilling. Especially when all of the people interviewed as well as Scott are receiving threats if they don’t distance themselves from Arla. Scott is also being ‘trolled’ on his social media accounts and he makes his settings private but refuses to stop the series. The severity of the threats increase as the novel progresses.
This book had me seeing and hearing things that could not have been there. I read the majority of it on a long distance flight, where it should be impossible to see ‘black-eyed children’ through the window, and by kindle light in a pitch black hotel room. This book, however has the power to terrify where ever you read it. It is deeply unsettling.
It was just before starting the book that I looked up ‘ black-eyed children’ on the internet. I had never heard of them before, and the one photograph that I saw stopped me looking closer.
A brilliant and scary follow-up that I would love to see dramatised.
About the Book
1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating.
I decided to read Six Stories in the way that it was written, one podcast daily. It gave me a chance to digest what I learned and to recover from the increasing eeriness.
I have never been to Northumberland, but have seen various fells in Cumbria. I have also stayed in centres just like the one described in the book when I was at school. The way that everything is described is all very similar. Isolated but beautiful with a sense of menace when it is nighttime and the level of darkness that you would only ever experience on a fell.
Each of the six podcasts describe the events surrounding Tom from people who he connected with at the time. His ‘friends’, their guide and a local man who was treated maliciously and mercilessly by Tom and a few of the others. Tom was not a nice person, there was nobody who escaped his mind games and viciousness. Scott King coaxes them all into reliving the way that he was with them and this wasn’t welcomed.
Nana Wrack and the other apparitions seen were very convincing. I have always been wary of opening curtains and seeing somebody stood on the other side of the window. And the descriptions here brought back memories that I can laugh about now but had me fearful when I was a teenager.
It is a difficult book to read without giving away too much but if you enjoy podcasts, serialised books with a high level of spookiness you won’t be disappointed. It’s also fantastic storytelling in a unique style.
You can buy the book at amazon or Waterstones
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.