Little Friends by Jane Shemilt

Published by Penguin UK on 20th February 2020

This is an excellent psychological thriller focusing on three families who all come together through their children taking private tuition classes together. Eve is the tutor, she appears to live the perfect life, she has children, a husband and a beautiful big family home. But what this book does well is show you that what appears on the outside is not what is necessarily happening on the inside. Eve actually has a husband who seems to ignore her and a teenage daughter who looks like she might be about to go off the rails. However, A bond soon builds between the children in the tutor group and before long they are happily playing together. The parents also start to connect, in more ways than one, there is Melissa and Paul with their brattish young daughter Izzy and Grace and Martin with their two boys Blake and Charley. Whilst the parents spend time getting to know each other the children seem to have been given a free rein to go wild. But that can only end badly.

All seems to be going well when suddenly tragedy strikes, it is every parents nightmare and panic soon sets in to turn their idyllic worlds upside down. What happens is shocking and tears their worlds apart, it gives you the reader a sudden jolt and whilst there were aspects of the story that I figured out, I was way off on other parts. What I liked about the narrative was that the story is told through the point of view of the three mothers, Eve, Grace and Melissa. Each one is a strong woman who knows her own mind but at the same time each has her own issues to deal with and through their narratives we soon learn how their perfect lives actually really aren’t that perfect at all.

The book deals with violence, trauma and tragedy and the tension that all this builds is immense, and at time unsettling, but I liked that, I liked the edginess of the story. This is a book that picks you up and forces you to hold your breath until it lets you go again. The story telling is superb, so, if you like a good psychological thriller this will not let you down.

The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson

Published by Two Roads on 19th March 2020

Set in the Scottish Highlands in 1856, city lady Isabel Aired is devastated when her doctor husband takes up a post at the new Loch Katrine Waterworks, a pioneering new experiment to take fresh water to Glasgow in an attempt to cut down on the deaths caused by cholera. For Isabel the prospect of leaving city life and society and moving to the desolate Highlands fills her with trepidation. With many tragic miscarriages behind her, Isabel, who has for so long been denied a role in motherhood, finds herself pregnant again and soon feels herself being absorbed by her new surroundings which leads her to question her former life and the role she had. As she starts to feel the babe move inside her she becomes more and more connected to the land and she soon crosses path with a mysterious figure dressed in black. His name is Robert Kirke, he is a minister and they are soon having conversations about the child, but who this man is she as no idea, but he certainly has a sinister to feel to him especially as he died in in 1692. What is he doing wandering the Scottish Highlands and has he purposely picked out Isabel?

Set against the backdrop of constant gun powder explosions and the tunnelling that goes on day and night, there are many strands to this story. It very cleverly weaves historical events and the supernatural together resulting in a very enjoyable and moving narrative. The research that has gone into this book is phenomenal and the way the story ties together at the end is superb. It is slow to start but it is definitely worth sticking with as the story that unfolds is superb. The connection between you the reader and Isabel definitely becomes stronger as the story moves on. Also, it is a visually beautiful book, that cover is beautiful!!