Today it’s my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog blitz for the new release from Sarah Wray, Her Best Friend. With thanks to Noelle Holten of Bookouture for including me in the blitz, I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you all as soon as we’ve taken a look at what the book is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
You couldn’t have done anything to save her.
Or could you?
Sylvie Armstrong has been running from her past for twenty years – until her mother’s death forces her to return to her home town, along with her newborn daughter.
Overwhelmed by grief in her childhood home, Sylvie tries to block out the memories that surround her – but then someone leaves a gift on her doorstep: a gold necklace with a heart-shaped locket.
This locket belonged to Sylvie’s best friend, Victoria Preston – and she was wearing it the night she died. Now it’s back in Sylvie’s life…and it soon becomes clear that somebody knows what really happened to Victoria.
Sylvie has to know the truth. But is she in terrible danger?
A gripping, page-turning psychological thriller with a final twist that will leave you open-mouthed. Fans of Sophie Hannah, The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl will be hooked.
From the very beginning of the book I found myself completely intrigued as to what was happening. The remnants of a party, a young girl clearly distressed, a body found in the water. What had happened to lead us to this point in time? Who was the young girl who had been found and how did she end up in the water? Well in order to find the answers to those questions, I had to keep reading. And keep reading I did.
Sometimes emotional, often claustrophobic, there was an immediately oppressive atmosphere and tone about this novel, one which keeps you as a reader very much on the edge of your seat. Returning to her home town for the first time since that fateful day, Sylvie is very clear that she is only there to sort through her mother’s effects in readiness for the sale of the house. She is not remotely prepared for what she finds in her former home, or the emotional turmoil she will find herself in returning to a place which has such terrible memories for her.
It is through Sylvie’s eyes that we experience the lion’s share of the story as she navigates her new situation, young daughter in tow, and tries to reconcile her past and her future. With a few segments told from the perspective of journalist and filmmaker Sam, a man who is trying to make a documentary about the still unexplained death Victoria, Sylvie’s best friend from childhood, and certain segments which take us back to events leading up to Victoria’s death, this is a carefully crafted and very effective psychological thriller. You can feel the past creeping in, taking over, sensing the danger as it begins to infect the present.
There are so many twisted secrets, so many characters who are slightly off kilter, that it is hard to know which perspective to trust. Take Michelle for example. She forces her way back into the picture and there is something just a little … off … about her. And Victoria’s parents – one determined to draw Sylvie back in to the investigation, the other keeping her at bay. And while outwardly Sylvie seems to be as much a victim of the past as anyone else, there are aspects of her character which become clear as the story progresses, things which paint her in a less virtuous light. But was it all just teenage high jinx and did any of it have anything to do with what happened to Victoria.
Sarah Wray introduces so much doubt that it’s hard to know who or what to trust, and there are many characters who act in creeping and unnerving ways, ones who would make you doubt their motives for being back in Sylvie’s life. It all adds to the tension and you are left to wonder whether Sylvie is likely to meet the same fate as Victoria. There are definitely elements of the story which keep you on a knife-edge and it is clear that too many people are keeping secrets. How many relate to what happened all those years ago you will have to read to find out.
Despite all the misdirection, I did have a kind of gut instinct as to what may have happened, or at the very least what led to it. I wasn’t entirely correct, the author successfully and wisely holding back some vital information, and there are certain revelations which will take the reader by surprise towards the end. But I was still engrossed, still keen to find out the truth and to discover just who could possible have wanted to hurt Victoria.
The setting is dark and foreboding, and, as I said earlier, somewhat claustrophobic. From the confines of a house which has seen no love in many a year, to the small community in which is it almost impossible to be invisible, right through to the lake which ultimately claimed Victoria’s life, you can feel it all clinging to and consuming Sylvie. And the pacing of the book compliments this perfectly.
All in all a great psychological thriller which will keep you hooked from start to finish. My thanks to publisher Bookouture for providing an advance copy of Her Best Friend for review via Netgalley. It is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
Sarah Wray is originally from Yorkshire but now lives in Newcastle-upon-Tyne where she works as a technology writer and editor. She won a Northern Writers’ Award (Arvon Award) in 2015 for an early version of her first novel
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