Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Publishing Date: March 11th 2014
Genre: Mystery /Thriller
Reading the synopsis, I had figured this to be one of those edge-of-the-seat thrillers with the concept being small town rocked by the mysterious disappearance of a girl and the eventual discovery of her mangled, brutalized corpse, revoking the memory of another disappearance and possibly death, that happened years ago.
The reality though fell short on my expectations. McHugh’ debut novel is set in the town on Henbane – literally Devil’ eye and is divided in 3 parts. The first two parts are narrated through the voices of two young girls – the protagonist Lucy Dane and who we slowly discover to be her mother – Lila. The third has multiple narrators which makes keeping track of it a bit confusing, if you aren’t paying attention to it.
Lucy has been friends with a mentally challenged girl Cheri all her life, has lived down the road from her and when suddenly one day, almost a year after Cheri’ mysterious disappearance her corpse turns up hanging from a tree, mutilated on the land of her uncle, Lucy and the small town of Henbane are shocked to say the least.
Lucy feels guilt and remorse for not being there to help Cheri, figuring had she been a better friend, perhaps the tragedy could have been avoided. One day, a clue Lucy discovers leads her to thinking, that perhaps there is more to the story of Cheri’ disappearance, murder and the discovery of her corpse than it seems to be.
This event also makes Lucy wonder whether her mother Lila, a woman who is still a popular topic of conversation; had suffered a similar fate. Slowly and steadily she sets out to discover the truth to find justice for a friend she feels she could have saved and a mother she wishes she could have known herself, a woman who gave her birth – a woman who she has only known through some of her photographs and the stories people say.
I think this book really had a lot of potential and it definitely could have been so much more. As a debuting author, McHugh has done a commendable job but maybe if the mystery wasn’t so easily solved, if there was actually that adrenaline rush that I wanted to experience as a reader, which this book lacked, I would have enjoyed it more.
Yes, this is a well rounded book which explores and provides ample opportunity to each of its character, still its a bit of a letdown honestly. The real mystery of Cheri’ murder – the narration of the eventual fate of her culprit was so dawdling. Not to mention that I simply could not even digest how the villain could have managed to stay under the radar for so long despite his many crimes, it was a bit puzzling to me.
Also the slow-burn romance between Lucy and Daniel had no real sparks as per me, even if it was mostly a crush they had and not real love.
Still for the effort and for actually managing to round off the story and make all the ends meet I would give this book a 3 star rating. Could be given a shot or a miss, depending on the preference of the reader’ taste frankly.
I was provided an advance readers copy for reviewing courtesy of Spiegel & Grau and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review of the book. This review is in no way influenced.