Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Beauty of the End – Debbie Howells

Psychological Thriller 3*s
Psychological Thriller

After her debut novel The Bones of You this author has chosen to provide us with another original idea as a premise for her second novel The Beauty of the End.

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. Goddesses have that effect, even on teenagers such as I was. Being plump or uncool has no bearing on the ability to fall in love—and my fate was sealed.”

Noah Calaway is still haunted by the love of his life, his first love, April Moon. As he is cocooned from the world in the present day in his remote English cottage, writing a novel, he receives a phone call from an old friend Will. Will tells Noah that April is in hospital suffering from the overdose, but worse, she is accused of the murder of a man and will be arrested if she surfaces from her coma. Since Noah was a lawyer, and because he still loves April he races to the hospital where she is recovering and seeks to find out as much as possible about her life since he last saw her. He is convinced that April would never have resorted to violence, there must be another explanation.

This is a fairly slow-moving tale told in multiple time-lines between 1989 when Noah was fourteen and the present day. Told mainly from Noah’s viewpoint, he charts the ups and downs of their relationship until they parted when she left him shortly before their wedding. In amongst Noah’s narrative we have excerpts from a teenage girl having therapy; how Ella is related to the story is a mystery though.

This isn’t a book that rattles along, with the information drip-fed and the characters almost without exception either unlikable or plain weird, it did take a while to take shape but fortunately the rewards of sticking with both the pace and the characters is rewarded as the seeds sown early on in the book bear fruition.

The writing has a lyrical edge to it giving an almost dream-sequence feeling to some parts of the book which competed with the mystery angle of the murder, why April left Noah and who on earth is Ella? Lyrical it may be but the writing doesn’t flinch from packing an emotional punch every now and again with some painful truths being revealed.

“We were butterflies. Some of you fly, the rest of us get our wings ripped off. My wings had gone before I knew you. And I’m not sure wingless butterflies have anywhere to go.”

Although I was keen to understand what had happened, both in the years Noah and April had been apart as well as the investigation that Noah undertook, I’m not sure that I was fully engaged in the story itself partly because the latter parts of the story were a little bit too far-fetched which knocked my belief in the entire novel. This is definitely at the more literary end of the thriller selection of books and incredibly sad. In conclusion, if you are in the mood for a slow-burner with many layers, you can do far worse than to read this book.

I’d like to thank the publishers Kensington Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book which has led to this unbiased review.


Published UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Kensington Books
No of Pages 352
Genre: Literary Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Bones of You – Debbie Howells

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

I have to admit when I first started this book I wasn’t too keen at all, but once I adjusted to the slow pace, I was hooked! All that despite some supernatural elements which would normally have me closing the book in disbelief.

One day Kate, mother to Grace, gets a phone call that Rosie Anderson has gone missing. Eighteen year old Rosie is nowhere near as socially confident as Grace and in the small Sussex town everyone hopes that she will return home unharmed.

Told from Kate’s and Rosie’s perspectives this book is a slow-burner but no less gripping for that. Kate has got to know Rosie as she was keen on Kate’s horses and she befriends her mother Jo through the search for Rosie.

Before Rosie’s disappearance Jo and Neale appeared to have an enviable life. A large house decorated to perfection with a garden to match and two beautiful daughter’s polite and well-behaved. This is a look at behind those closed doors with Rosie’s narrative giving away incidents that show her life was far from perfect. Neale is a renowned journalist while Jo seems a little more fragile, no wonder why when we hear the truth from Rosie.

Kate is keen to help Jo out but her husband Angus points out that she shouldn’t get too involved, particularly as Rosie’s younger sister, Della needs support while her mother is increasingly absent from her life. Kate is aware that Jo is not being as open with her as she could be, but is frightened to push her new friend to confront the reality. And then Kate starts receiving anonymous notes that seem to relate to Rosie – Who has posted them, and why?

This isn’t a crime fiction novel, the police are kept firmly in the background on an occasional advisory capacity, rather, it is a look at the structure of a family, one that at its heart, is nothing like the face that they present to the wider world. Dark and nasty things are afoot and it takes Rosie’s narrative to flush them out. At the same time we get to see behind Kate’s front door, is her marriage to Angus as strong and secure as she believes? How will Grace’s departure to university change her life, can she cope particularly with the tragedy hanging over the town. She finds solace in her horses and fills her days with her gardening job, meeting up with the boy who may, or may not, have been Rosie’s boyfriend at the nursery. The rumours are swirling round and so when old friend of Kate’s wants to write a piece about Rosie and her family, Kate is torn between revealing what she knows and wanting to preserve the family’s privacy.

Although the pacing is steady without the showy twists and turns that the more brash books of this genre display, the mystery anchors the book and there are a number of possible answers. By the last third of this book I had a pretty good idea of what had happened but I was enjoying the ride so much that even if I wasn’t waiting to find out if I was right, I’d still have been turning the pages as eagerly.

I’d like to thank Kensington Books for allowing me to read this expertly told tale in return for my review. The Bones of You is due to be published on 30 June 2015.