Tag Archives: Must reads 2018

#Attend by West Camel #BookReview @West_Camel @OrendaBooks #BlogTour #MustReads

Today I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers on the Attend by West Craven blog tour. If you are looking for a novel thats highly original, yet captivating then I may have the perfect book for you. Read on for my thoughts….

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah.

Seamstress, sailor, story-teller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

With echoes of Armistead Maupin, Attend is a beautifully written, darkly funny, mesmerisingly emotive and deliciously told debut novel, rich in finely wrought characters that you will never forget.

There’s nothing more exciting than picking up a novel that comes with a unique and spellbinding plot, a novel that consumes your every waking minute, and yet you find yourself reluctant to carry on reading it as you don’t want it to end, and Attend by West Camel is one of those novels. Oh how I adored this book, rather like enigmatic seamstress Deborah’s sewing,  this novel is rich in detail, with its threads expertly woven, resulting in a captivating read that is told in the most lyrical way. This is a book that refuses to fit into one particular genre, and I mean that in a positive way, it’s part gritty crime thriller, yet there is also a magical quality hidden within its pages.  

Attend is the story of three people,  Deborah a seamstress, Anne an ex drug addict and Sam whose coming to terms with his own sexuality, each has their own personal challenges. The author has created three very different characters but their stories intertwine, Deborah being the thread that binds them together.  The setting of Deptford, London is perfectly depicted and so vividly described, it’s not a pretty picture,  as within the shadows of the town lie the darker elements of town life, the violence and addiction that go hand with the seedier and murky criminal fraternity, a world that both Anne and Sam know only to well. 

Craven has created characters that are rich in personality, and unforgettable. Dorothy is a character who evokes strong emotions, there’s something that makes you feel desperately sorry for her, she’s someone who deserves to have an abundance of happiness and love and yet that’s something that appears to be just outside her reach. There’s a sadness and an overwhelming sense of loneliness that radiates from Dorothy, as her story unfolds you realise why. When Anne and Sam become part of Dorothy’s life she shares her stories, some see far-fetched, even elaborate and fairy like in there telling, but these are the tales that magically bind the three together. Dorothy’s stories are rich in description and beautifully told, and then you have the strands of Anne and Sam’s stories which are both dark and gritty in their telling.  

Attend is so different to many of my previous reads, and I’m not sure the pace or the plot will be to everyone’s taste, it’s definitely not action packed, this is a novel driven by its characters.  Personally I found Attend to be a memorising read, the setting, the characters and the story line make this novel such an unusual and compelling read. West Camel writes with confidence, he breathes magic into the story he is telling, his characters come alive but best of all Attend is highly original which is always a good thing.  Highly recommended.   

  • Print Length: 276 pagesU
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (15 Nov. 2018)

About the author 

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel. You can follow West on Twitter @west_camel

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda books and Anne Cater for my ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Follow the blog tour……..

The book review café’s book of the month **November 2018**

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WOW here we are in December, where did the rest of 2018 go? As it’s the beginning of December it’s time to share my book of the month, now you might just want to sit down for this one *shock,horror* I have finally got ONE book of the month, yes you read that right!

As anyone who follows my blog will know I choose a book  for the previous month, in this case November (and normally fail miserably in narrowing it down to one). It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page. So without further ado here’s my book of the month…….

The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes

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Oh my freaking god! What a fabulous and compelling  read The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes turned out to be.  I must be honest when I read the book description I wasn’t convinced it would be an original read, as I’ve read numerous psychological thrillers where the protagonist wakes up from a coma with no memory,  but what makes this one so different is in the telling of a very twisted and disturbing tale. Read on for my thoughts The Liar’s Wife by Samantha Hayes hayes

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Here are some of the books I read in November I would happily recommend

 

 

Full reviews can be found below…….

**Blog tour** #HushHush by Mel Sherratt @writermels @AvonBooksUk #BookReview

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain #BookReview @D_Chamberlain

#AndSoItBegins by Rachel Abbott #BlogTour @RachelAbbott @annecater

**Blog Tour** #TheHunted by Kerry Barnes #BookReview @KerryBarnes1 @HQDigitalUK

The Coco Pinchard Boxset by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @CocoPinchard – Coco Pinchard’s Must Have Toy Story #BlogTour #bookreview #TeamBryndza #giveaway @BOTBSPublicity

#TheKey by Katherine Hughes#BookReview @headlinepg

Her Last Move by John Marrs #BookReview @johnmarrs1 @AmazonPub

Next month  I will be sharing my top reads of the 20018 which is going to be much easier than I thought. I came up with a plan of sorts which I will reveal next month when I share my post.

Books I’m hoping to read in December

The eagle eyed amongst you may notice some of these books were also on my November pile, which I never got around to reading #EpicFail 😂

 

 

 

#TheRumour by Lesley Kara #BookReview @LesleyKara @TransworldBooks #MustReads2018

Today I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Rumour, the debut novel from Lesley Kara. This is definitely one of those books that’s going to be a huge hit with readers. You can read on for my thoughts but first the book description…………

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When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realises what it is she’s unleashed?

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OMG what a twisted and devious read The Rumour by Lesley Kara turned out to be, this maybe the author’s debut novel but it’s written like a pro.  There are so many novels that are written in the psychological thriller genre that I sometimes find they lack that element of surprise. If I read a psychological thriller I need to read one that stands out, a novel that leaves me thinking “what the frigging hell did I just read?” One I want everyone to read so I can discuss the devious plot, the characters, and the writing and The Rumour is one of those books! It’s a tale shrouded in suspicion, paranoia and accusations. 

The Rumour has an intriguing premise rumour has it that Sally McGowan a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in the sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea. one casual remark, one whispered confidence that’s all it takes and rumours spread like wild fire in the small insular town. As the reader you feel like you are one of the  towns people living there, amid the rumours and the speculation, which immediately makes you wary of every character you are introduced to,  which adds a high level of tension to the read.  Lesley Kara misdirects the reader at every possible turn, which was personally the reason I enjoyed this novel so much, I do love to be outwitted by an author. 

There’s something really disconcerting about this book I think it’s because you feel uncomfortable being privy to the rumours, you make assumptions and very much like the paranoid people of the town you find yourself putting each character under the microscope, looking for that clue will uncover infamous Sally McGowan. The sense of disgust and outrage from the towns people is evident, and it seems more so because this was a murder committed by a child.

As with many rumours, once whispered they take on a life of there own and things quickly began to escalate. Joanna tries to shy away from the gossip but she finds her self drawn into it, and on occasion, she’s even responsible for it. Joanne comes to realise she may have opened a can of worms, whilst placing her son in danger.  The author highlights the damage rumours and gossip can inflict on innocent individuals, but she also explores the privacy of someone in witness protection, and the feelings and emotions of someone hiding in plain sight. There’s an intensity within The Rumours pages,  it doesn’t come from a fast plot or dramatic scenes it comes from “the not knowing” the constant shifting of suspicion from one character to another.

The Rumour made for an intense and unfortunately a far to credible read, it’s one that will cause wide debate amongst its readers, I found myself contemplating the rights and wrongs of this complex story and whether someone who commits murder at a young age deserves anonymity. I’m really excited by Lesley Kara’s writing and considering this is her debut she has written an outstanding psychological thriller, that should stand proud on the book shelf next to the more established authors of this genre.  In case you haven’t already guessed I will definitely be recommending this novel to anyone  who love a psychological thriller that really does keep you guessing to the end. 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital (10 Dec. 2018)

Buying link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rumour-Lesley-Kara-ebook/dp/B07D313CT9/ 🇬🇧

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**Blog tour** #HushHush by Mel Sherratt @writermels @AvonBooksUk #BookReview

Today I’m thrilled to be on the blog tour for Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt. Hush Hush Is the first book in a exciting  new police procedural series featuring DS Grace Allendale. Before I share my review here’s the book description…..

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A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders, and prove herself to her new team.

All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.

To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

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I’ve long been a fan of Mel Sherratt’s writing, she is such a versatile writer, and proves it by writing books in a wide range of genres whether it be a psychological thriller, crime fiction or suspense you are always guaranteed a cracking read. When I picked up Hush Hush the first book in a new crime series featuring DS Grace Allendale I was hoping she would incorporate her trade mark “grit lit” into the story, something this author does so well. I’m thrilled to report I personally think this is the author’s best book to date and had so many aspects that made Hush Hush such a gripping read. 

DS Grace Allendale  has recently returned to her home town of Stoke-on-Trent. Grace’s early years were spent living with a violent and abusive father, which ended when Grace’ s mother left him. Now he’s been murdered and Grace newly promoted feels able to return to the town she grew up in. On her return she finds herself investigating a murder, which is complicated by the fact The Steele’s a family who are well known for their criminal activities also happen to be Grace’s half brothers and sisters. As the old proverb goes  “blood is thicker than water”, but there’s always an exception to any rule,  which is certainly the case for Grace and the Steele family, loyalty is tested and conflict arises.

Grace like many fictional detectives has baggage, she’s a loner, she’s reserved but Grace is also a strong character, the brutal and disturbing chapters that describe her abusive childhood help the reader to understand the complexities of the “grown up” Grace. Alongside the investigation and on going problems with her family, she also has difficulty fitting in with her new team, they still miss their old boss Allie Shenton (featured in previous books by the author) and they also have trust issues which is hardly surprising considering who she is, but all these issues add to the overall tension.

Hush Hush is a solid start to this new crime series, with misdirection, suspense, and a dysfunctional family at its core this is undoubtedly a not to be missed crime thriller. There’s a gritty realism within the author’s books that some crime thrillers can lack, I found the chapters that delved into Graces past very disturbing and heartbreaking to say the least, but Mel Sherratt isn’t afraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects head on and in doing so has written a crime thriller that is a worthy addition to any crime thriller lovers bookshelf. Highly recommended. 

  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Avon (18 Oct. 2018)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧

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My novels take you to the heart of the crime. I write police procedurals, psychological suspense and crime dramas – fiction with a punch. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award, my inspiration comes from authors such as Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. 

Since 2012, I’ve sold over one million books. All eleven of my crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the Kindle UK top 10 and I’ve had several number ones. I’ve also had numerous Kindle All-star awards, for best read author and best titles.

My latest book, HUSH HUSH is the first in a new series featuring DS Grace Allendale. It’s a police procedural which finds Grace returning to her hometown of Stoke-on-Trent and coming face to face with her estranged family during her first murder investigation. It’s a story of ‘is blood thicker than water’ and being stuck between a rock and a hard place. And there’s a serial killer on the loose… 

SHE DID IT is a standalone psychological thriller, and my first novel set in London. I wanted to write about a character who was nice to everyone using one persona but out for revenge with another side to her that she tries to keep hidden away. The reader knows exactly what she is up to – but not the reason why. 

TAUNTING THE DEAD is my best selling book. It’s part police procedural/part psychological thriller. It was standalone for two years but I have now written two more books with Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton as the main character to create a trilogy. FOLLOW THE LEADER is book two and ONLY THE BRAVE is book three.

THE ESTATE SERIES is a mix of psychological suspense and family life with a sprinkling of grit and a dash of menace – where drama meets crime. There are four books, available individually or you can read the first three as a box set. 

DETECTIVE EDEN BERRISFORD works in a community intelligence team and helps to gather information and intel for investigations. THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR is the first book, followed by DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU. 

WATCHING OVER YOU is another standalone psychological thriller. It’s dark in places, light in places, disturbing in places too – where obsession and friendship turn into murder.

I also write women’s fiction under the pen name of Marcie Steele. Stirred with Love, The Little Market Stall of Hope and Heartbreak and The Second Chance Shoe Shop are out now. 

I live in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with my husband and terrier, Dexter (named after the TV serial killer) and make liberal use of my hometown as a backdrop for some of my books. You can find out more at my website http://www.melsherratt.co.uk or I’m on Twitter at @writermels 

Follow the blog tour……

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The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain #BookReview @D_Chamberlain

Today I’m sharing my review for the latest novel by Diane Chamberlain, The Dream Daughter. As a huge crime thriller reader, there are just a handful of authors outside this genre that I turn to when I need a “non crime fiction fix” and this author is one of them.

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When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back. 

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.

A rich, genre-spanning, breathtaking novel about one mother’s quest to save her child, unite her family, and believe in the unbelievable. Diane Chamberlain pushes the boundaries of faith and science to deliver a novel that you will never forget. 

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I have long been a fan of Diane Chamberlain I just adore her books, now if I’m honest I had reservations about reading The Dream Daughter as I read on line that the author’s latest book is part science fiction, don’t get me wrong I’m not adverse to reading this genre I just couldn’t work out how a authors whose novels normally focus on very human story’s  could possibly incorporate science fiction into one of her story’s. After finishing this novel I have to admit the author has done a fabulous job, and the mix of genres exactly made The Dream Daughter a unique read which captured my imagination.

The Dream Daughter is a novel about one mother’s quest to save her child. Carly finds out that her unborn baby has a heart defect. There’s no treatment available in 1970, and the baby will likely not survive after birth. Her enigmatic brother in law Hunter has knowledge of treatment that could help Caroline’s unborn baby, but first he needs to convince her to take a mind-bending leap of faith. This description may seem vague but I’m desperate not to give away the heart of this novel and spoil the read for others. The way Diane Chamberlain has crafted a story of a mother’s love, risking everything she knows and believes, all for the love for her daughter was incredibly moving at times. If I’m giving you the impression The Dream Daughter makes for a depressing read I apologise, this novel also has uplifting and heartwarming moments that warm the heart.  

Diane Chamberlain has a knack of creating characters that are not only multi dimensional but she also draws on the raw emotions the characters are feeling. You feel Carly’s despair, you understand her need to do everything in her power to save her daughter, you empathise when Carly has to make heart breaking choices, you feel like your alongside Carly on her journey. I’m really pleased the author decided not to give The Dream Daughter the ending  I envisaged, personally I found the authors conclusion to be a more satisfactory one (that’s why I’m not an author) it was definitely more fitting to the overall story.  Diane Chamberlain has written a multi-layered, genre crossing, complex novel that is both emotive and compelling, and a novel that I found a joy to read. 

  • Print Length: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan; Main Market edition (18 Oct. 2018)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

 

#AndSoItBegins by Rachel Abbott #BlogTour @RachelAbbott @annecater

Today I’m over the moon  to be opening the blog tour for Rachel Abbott and her latest book And So It Begins. If you love a twisted psychological thriller then you need to buy this one immediately. Before I share my review here’s the book description……..

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Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark. He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

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There’s nothing more thrilling than reading a psychological thriller that is deliciously twisted, one that literally leaves your head in a spin, and a plot that’s big on the unpredictable And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott fits the bill perfectly. Evie Clarke meets Mark, a reclusive widower, and they soon become a couple. Mark starts to feel he has a future after the accidental death of his first wife. There’s only one fly in the ointment, and comes in the shape of Cleo, Mark’s overprotective sister, who is is mistrustful of Evie from the start. What first appears to be a fairly straightforward story of a marriage gone wrong soon ascends into something darker and far more disturbing. 

As the reader you are privy to details of the couples personal struggles, at times this made for a disquieting read, but you can’t help but read on in fascinated horror as Rachel Abbot reveals more details about the couple and Cleo’s past. Now normally I have to feel some connection to the characters to invest in their story, both Evie and Cleo had qualities that made them impossible to like, but if anything it actually made the story far more interesting as I only took them at face value. I do love an unreliable narrator and in this book you don’t get one but two! and so I  found myself constantly questioning their involvement and motives. There is an undercurrent of lies and deception throughout the book and it is not clear until the very end where the deceit lies.

I was surprised when I realised this novel was Part court room drama, but if anything this was the part of the book I enjoyed the most, as the author deftly reveals more details about the damaged characters within the book.  And So It Begins Is a book that is guaranteed to keep you guessing it’s not about the “who” as that’s revealed early on in the book it’s the complexities of the “why” that make this book such an exciting read. With themes of jealousy, violence, toxic family relationships, and damaged characters, it’s one of those books that holds surprises at every deviously twisted turn. I must mention I love the fact that author Rachel Abbott manages to maintain the element of surprise right up to the last page, making this novel a thrill a minute read. Highly recommended 

  • Print Length: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Wildfire (11 Oct. 2018)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Rachel Abbott’s debut thriller, Only the Innocent, was an international bestseller, reaching the number one position in the Amazon charts both in the UK and US. This was followed by the number one bestselling novels The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child, Nowhere Child (a short novel based on the characters from Stranger Child), Kill Me Again and The Sixth Window. Her most recent novel, Come a Little Closer, is available from February 2018.

Rachel’s novels have now been translated into over 20 languages and her books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language. 

In 2015 Amazon celebrated the first five years of the Kindle in the UK, and announced that Rachel was the #1 bestselling independent author over the five-year period. She was also placed #14 in the chart of all authors. Stranger Child was the most borrowed novel for the Kindle in the first half of 2015.

Rachel splits her time between Alderney – a beautiful island off the coast of France – and the Le Marche region of Italy, where she is able to devote all her time to writing fiction. For more information, see Rachel’s website, or follow her on Twitter.

Rachel’s website can be found at 

Website : http://www.rachel-abbott.com 

Blog : http://rachelabbottwriter.com/

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/RachelAbbott1Writer

Twitter: @RachelAbbott

Follow the blog tour…… 

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#TheKey by Katherine Hughes#BookReview @headlinepg


Today I’m sharing my review for The Key by Katherine Hughes, a book that’s very different to my usual reads, but one I found to a be a breath of fresh air, you can read on for my thoughts, but first the book description….

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1956 

It’s Ellen Crosby’s first day as a student nurse at Ambergate Hospital. When she meets a young woman admitted by her father, little does Ellen know that a choice she will make is to change both their lives for ever…

2006

Sarah is drawn to the now abandoned Ambergate. Whilst exploring the old corridors she discovers a suitcase belonging to a female patient who entered Ambergate fifty years earlier. The shocking contents, untouched for half a century, will lead Sarah to unravel a forgotten story of tragedy and lost love, and the chance to make an old wrong right . . .

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Every once in a while I like to pick up a book thats outside my comfort zone, a book that takes me away from serial killers, murders and mayhem, and when I read the book description for The Key I knew it was one I had to read. I’ve always been intrigued by asylums, I put that down to spending so many years working as a psychiatric nurse. When I think of asylums I conjure up images of wrong doings, barbaric treatments and an environment that was definitely not therapeutic to those living within the walls of such a place. Despite this Katherine Hughes has written a book that’s beautifully told, with a moving and thought provoking storyline, it’s one that pulls at the most hardened heart strings.  

The Key has a dual timeline, alternating between the 1950s and present day. Sarah, historian, finds a stash of old suitcases whilst going through the ruins of the old asylum. She is drawn to one suitcase in particular that contains a 50-year-old secret about the tragic life of Amy, a former patient. Katherine Hughes  manages to convey the attitudes of the staff and the treatment of patients in Ambergate County Lunatic Asylum with such conviction that some readers may find this book an uncomfortable and upsetting read at times. There is no doubt  The Key makes for a heartbreaking read, and more so because of the cruelty of such asylums, the author also highlights  the shocking and unbelievable reasons patients found themselves incarcerated.

The author has done a magnificent job in creating characters that are so well drawn that you can’t help but invest in their story, especially Amy’s it’s a tragic one and all the more upsetting because it’s a very believable one. It’s easy to imagine Amy’s confusion, her feeling of helplessness, but mostly you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of injustice at the way Amy was treated in Ambergate. This could have been a depressing read, but  the author manages to add some heartwarming moments of friendship, hope and love within its pages. 

Katherine Hughes has written a novel that made for a   enthralling read, at times I found myself quite emotional which is a testament to the author’s writing skills, by the time I reached the last page I felt like I had been alongside Amy in her life journey, a path filled with heartbreak, fear and rejection. The Key is a wonderful told story of  pain, loss,  truth, and redemption. A disturbing yet captivating read that I would highly recommend to readers of historical fiction.  

  •  Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Review (6 Sept. 2018)

Buying links:    Amazon UK 🇬🇧         Amazon US 🇺🇸

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Footnote: 

The Key was inspired by the real-life discovery of a room filled with suitcases in a derelict asylum in Willard, New York. I visited the Willard Suitcases website to read more, it’s a fascinating website but also extremely sad, but it does make you realise that The Key although a work of fiction is inspired by real people placed in the most awful situations. 

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