The first section of this book, by Rebecca Griffiths, – simply titled “50 years before” – is a challenging read. Dark and quite nasty, it does manage to set a tone for this book of lurking evil. However even in this section and for the whole of the book, I found it very readable. Though the voices vary in the chapters it was always clear to me who it was I was reading about. This story is set around Sarah, known as Rachel, who had been abducted and abused in a high profile case some years earlier. She learns that her abductor is due to be released from prison having served his sentence and so she leaves her life, friends and family in London and moves to a remote part of south Wales on the edge of the Brecon Beacons as Rachel. While the area is remote there are four properties that are not far distant from each other and so, in addition to Rachel, we gradually find out more about the Morgans as well as Dai and Idris.
In general the characters in this story are well written and very strong. I found myself totally absorbed in the book. For me the writing is exceptional; there is a Welsh feel to the narrative with some really lovely turns of phrase that were a joy to read however dark they were. The writing has a lilt and a richness to it which is not something I come across very often. This is a book that doesn’t explain everything as it goes along; it is a book that allows the reader to piece together the story themselves rather than serving it up whole. In practice there are a number of threads or stories active in this and I often found myself wondering just what would be revealed by the end. It is also very twisted and mostly in a good way.
However I find it quite hard to work out just why the ending didn’t really work for me. I’m writing this review some days after I finished the book and I wanted to reflect on it before reviewing it. I would stress it is not that the ending is bad or doesn’t work – I think I just didn’t really like it. It is impossible for me to explain my feelings without giving away a rather important aspect of the story which I am simply not prepared to do as it is such a great tale overall. Certainly others will be very happy with the ending I’m sure – I just hope they love the book as much as I did. I would really like to read another book by this author – it was beautifully written and completely absorbing and will almost certainly be one of my top books of this year.
Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review