Today I am sharing my thoughts on the latest novel from Lisa Jewell, Invisible Girl. I;ve been very late coming to this author’s work but am making sure I’m not falling further behind again. My thanks to publisher Century who provided the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
MIDNIGHT: In an area of urban wasteland where cats hunt and foxes shriek, a girl is watching …Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Hive | Googleplay | Apple Books
When Saffyre Maddox was ten, something terrible happened, and she’s carried the pain of it ever since. The man who she thought was going to heal her didn’t, and now she hides, learning his secrets, invisible in the shadows.
Owen Pick is invisible too. He’s never had a girlfriend; he’s never even had a friend.
Nobody sees him. Nobody cares.
But when Saffyre goes missing from opposite his house on Valentine’s night, suddenly the whole world is looking at Owen.
Accusing him, holding him responsible for Saffyre’s disappearance …
INVISIBLE GIRL: an engrossing, twisty story of how we look in the wrong places for bad people while the real predators walk among us in plain sight.
This is only the second book by Lisa Jewell that I have read now but I a quickly coming to love the almost understated way in which she draws you into her novels, catching you unawares with a slow building tension and characters who, whilst not instantly likeable in all cases, get under your skin and who you find yourself willingly going on the particular journey with. This was definitely the case with The Invisible Girl, a story which almost like it’s protagonist is quiet, unassuming, at times something of an enigma, but completely unrelenting in its mission to uncover a dark truth. Can you tell I loved this.
This is. the story of Saffyre, a young girl who has already lost so much in her short life but mysteriously disappears one evening, leaving her older brother bereft. Saffyre is a complex and troubled teen who has been having counselling following the death of her family when she was younger, but how much of this past feeds into the mystery of her disappearance is unclear. At least to begin with. This is a complex tale which looks at both Saffyre’s past and the events which shaped her into the. girl, or rather young woman, that she is today and the weeks leading up to her disappearance, told in her own voice making the story all the more powerful and poignant at times as a result. I really liked SAffyre. Lis Jewell has, in her, created a character who is vulnerable and, yes, slightly damaged, but who also has a core strength that it is clear others often overlook. She may be the odd girl, the one others easily dismiss or forget, the epitome of the ‘invisible girl’ – present but unseen by anyone other. than her brother – but her invisibility, her rather unique nature, proves to be her greatest asset in this complex and sometimes dark tale.
In contrast to Saffyre there is one other key character who inhabits this strange and dark world that Lisa Jewell has created. Equally as misunderstood as Saffyre, Owen Pick is far from invisible. In fact his very, how shall I put this, unique nature makes his stand out like a sore thumb, particularly in a community which is seeing a rise in sexual assaults on young women. He is awkward, his character is far from what the majority would consider normal and Lisa Jewell plays this perfectly, using the who notion that different means wrong that is far too prevalent in modern society. I found myself feeling kind of sorry for Owen, even if he really is creepy as hell at times and his actions often leave a lot to be desired. But, quite like Saffyre, he has a troubled past but where one is seen as a victim, her is seen as a suspect. Stereotyping perhaps, but it has an undeniable feeling of authenticity about it.
There is a strong undercurrent of unease from the very first page. Tat feeling that something awful is going to happen that only grows stronger the further we go into the book and the more we learn about Saffyre’s character and what she has seen and experienced. The backstory of the assaults feeds into the narrative perfectly, playing out in quite a surprising way. It is fair to say that whilst the lions share of the story focuses on Saffyre and Owen, the two misfits in a very ‘normal’ community, there are a raft of characters whose behaviour will shock, surprise and often incense you as a reader. I often found myself having quite a visceral reaction to some of the characters, particularly one of Owen’s neighbours, Cate, who just happened to be married to Saffyre’s therapist Roan. For a woman who has had her own share of strange ‘episodes’ it seems, she had me biting my tongue trying not to shout ‘wind your neck in love’ at my kindle. Well meaning or just nosy? You read and decide for yourself. As for her daughter the drama queen … Don’t even get me started.
Another tense, but perfectly paced psychological thriller that kept me completely glued to the story and desperate to find out what really happened to Saffyre. And as for the ending … well let us just say that everyone finally seemed to get what they truly deserved. Definitely recommended.
About the Author
Lisa Jewell was born in London. Her first novel, Ralph’s Party, was the bestselling debut novel of 1999. Since then she has published another sixteen novels, most recently a number of dark psychological thrillers, including The Girls and Then She Was Gone (both of which were Richard & Judy Book Club picks) as well as I Found You and Watching You. Lisa is a top ten New York Times and number one Sunday Times bestselling author who has been published worldwide in over twenty-five languages. She lives in north London with her husband, two daughters, two cats, two guinea pigs and the best dog in the world.