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Little Black Lies – Book Review

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The first book review of my Summer Reading Challenge is Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton.

I read this book on a family holiday to Malta and I had high hopes for it. I really did. I had read some amazing reviews from readers I trust on the online book club I am a member of, it sounded like just the kind of dark, tense thriller I can lose myself in  and would normally devour in one sitting.

Unfortunately it was not to be. As much as I don’t want this blog to be a negative space, it would be nonsensical for the reviews in the book challenge to be anything other than my truthful opinions, (as much as it pains me). It would be easier for me to write ‘I loved every moment of the dark, twisted plot, blah blah blah…’ but sadly in this instance that just wasn’t the case and writing so would be sort of missing the point of doing a review.

It is set on the Falkland Islands and speculates on how traditional cultures deal with children who vanish. “The vanishings quickly slip into local folklore,” writes the editor of the local newspaper, “appearing first of all as ghostly sightings and then later in the oral tradition of storytelling. Missing children . . . are behind all the tales of children stolen by fairies, or eaten by trolls and witches. We deal with our shame by externalizing it. By blaming supernatural forces.”

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The first 10% of the novel was actually really gripping. It follows Marine Biologist Catrin Quinn, who is still grieving three years after the accidental deaths of her young sons. Her best friend, Rachel Grimwood, had left the boys alone in her car for a few minutes and it rolled off a cliff into the sea. Catrin is still seething and the first chapters go underwater diving with her, on her own, at night. It is described so vividly I could actually feel the eeriness of being under the sea in the dark, with the clinging seaweed and flashes of tiny schools of fish. Catrin has a whale graveyard/museum in her clifftop garden! It is all very visual and a great scene was set in those early chapters. Catrin as the main voice, talks a lot about the sea and whales. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the sea. I have a huge phobia of fish but a deep fascination for whales, their huge majestic mysterious presence throughout the first part of the book is quite captivating especially as most of it takes place at night. But then something fairly major happens with the whales and little is mentioned of them again.

The rest of the book is told from the perspective of Callum (Catrin’s love interest) and Rachel Grimwood (her best friend) and focuses on some children that have gone missing on the island. It essentially turns into a whodunnit, told from a three person perspective. I’m not a fan of this genre and I almost gave up on the book several times (at one point the mind set it was putting me in was spoiling my holiday!!) after what was such a promising beginning, the remainder of the book felt at times a little like slowly ripping off a sticking plaster. Seriously, it was that feeling of just wanting it to be over. I didn’t particularly like or feel any empathy for the three main characters, I was waiting for a huge plot twist and although there was a definite improvement in pace over the last two chapters the ending just wasn’t there for me.

I hate starting my book challenge on a bad review, but hey it can only get better from here.

Up next is Lisa Jewel – The House I Grew Up In.

NB: I have since realised I read the wrong Little Black Lies, the one I should have read was this one by Sandra Block what a wally I am!!

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