By Simon Lelic
I found this to be a challenging but intriguing read. Structurally, it is interesting. The first section of the book is an account of events leading up to the present written in tandem by the two main characters, Jack and Sydney. From midway through we pick up the story as it moves forward.
In the early chapters, We learn that Jack and Syd are a young couple who are desperate to get onto the London housing ladder but find that all the properties they want slip through their fingers. Until one day they make a bid on a rather unusual house and learn, to their surprise, that they have been successful
So far, so good. But shortly after they move in weird things start to happen including Jack finding a dead cat in the attic.
It is interesting reading Jack and Syd’s different perspectives on events and seeing the ways in which they are not being entirely honest with each other. Partly as a result of this, neither comes across as entirely likeable.
Things get more complicated when Syd takes an interest in a young local girl, Elsie, who is a victim of domestic abuse at the hands of her father. Domestic abuse resonates for Syd, and ultimately is a huge theme and driver of the plot for this story. Elsie also turns out to be one of the most sympathetic characters in the book. I found myself really rooting for her.
Manipulation and deceit are at the heart of the story. Who is really pulling the strings behind recent events? What are Jack and Sydney hiding from each other? Is Sydney still a victim of her past?
This is a novel in which nothing is as it seems, and which will deliver surprises not just at the end but throughout.
Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.
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