Review: The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.

Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.

The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear, knowing that whoever has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.

Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before.

I was keen to read this novel from the moment I first saw the great cover image so I was really pleased when my request was approved on Net Galley.

I found that the opening chapters of The Good Mother really hooked me in. It worked very well that when Suze wakes up in the strange room, the reader knows no more than she does. This makes for a very intriguing read and had me guessing along with her about where she might be and what might have happened to her. She senses that her daughter Cara has been taken with her but has no proof of this to begin with. In time she hears Cara in the room next to her and they begin to communicate by passing notes through a grate. The notes are interesting at first because they show Suze’s conflicted state of mind as she frantically tries to think of ways to keep Cara safe but at the same time she needs her to be able to help them try to escape. Cara is understandably terrified and struggles to find the emotional strength needed for the two of them to attempt to get away.

Unfortunately the book fell a little flat for me in the middle section; it felt like I was in limbo just waiting for something to happen. The notes keep being passed, Suze keeps on trying to come up with a plan; it felt a little padded out and I just wanted to see more progression of the story. It soon starts to pick up again though as Suze realises that she knows her attacker from somewhere and slowly she begins to piece together who he is. The novel really begins to gather momentum after this as we see how the kidnapper reacts to Suze’s realisation and we also find out more about what happened to Cara in the run up to the kidnapping; in fact it becomes so fast-paced at this point that I didn’t put the book down again until I’d finished reading it!

I love an unreliable narrator and Suze is certainly that. A protagonist who has been kidnapped and repeatedly drugged is not able to know the truth let alone tell is so it worked very well for this novel.  The Good Mother is told from two perspectives  – Suze is the main voice but we also get the perspective of the kidnapper. This aspect of the book fascinated me because in parts I started to wonder if we were really getting the kidnapper’s viewpoint or whether Suze was imagining what he was getting up to and this is discombobulating in a good way. 

There wasn’t a lot that came as a shock to me in this novel in terms of what was really happening with Suze but even though I was expecting the big stuff, there were smaller elements within the twists that were actually very shocking in terms of behaviours and the way certain characters were treated. I also found the reality of what happened to Suze really quite disturbing. The very end of the novel was properly shocking albeit it made sense in terms of the character in question after what we’d learnt about them earlier in the book, but it was still horrifying. As I could sense what was about to happen it was like being in an accident and everything feeling like it’s going in slow motion and high speed at the same time. I wanted it to be so different for the character because they deserved something better, but sometimes damage done is so great that wheels are set in motion that can’t be altered and it felt like that’s what happened in this book. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give any spoilers.

For the most part, this was quite a fast paced, engrossing novel and while there were some parts that didn’t absolutely work for me, overall I rated it 4 out of 5 and I would recommend it.

I received a copy of The Good Mother from Carina via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The Good Mother is out now and available from all good bookshops.

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18 thoughts on “Review: The Good Mother by A. L. Bird

  1. I have been waiting for this review ever since I saw you mention the book. The synopsis sounded quite interesting but sorry to hear it was slow at some points. Great Review. I will definitely look for the book.

    • Thank you. It was an enjoyable read and I’d still recommend it, the pace just dropped a bit in the middle which almost made me stop reading but I’m really glad that I picked it back up. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it.

    • It’s such a great blurb! I almost gave up on the book in the middle but I’m so glad I didn’t because the pace really does pick up in the second half. I wish I could have said more in my review but I didn’t want to give away any spoilers. Thank you 🙂

  2. You give such honest, clear, reviews, thank you. Unfortunately some reviewers say a little more of what the publishers want, not the readers, so my total trust is a little wobbly. I’m grateful for your straightforward thoughts and opinions and may take a risk in buying the books, or not, having been warned or encouraged. You never make a punch at the authors, respecting them, while giving good insight into what to expect. Sorry, I could have been more brief!

    • Thank you so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to write this comment. I do try my best to be fair to authors but also to let readers have my honest opinion, it’s a fine line to tread sometimes but it’s important to me that I do my best to get the balance right. I also make a point to never give away spoilers – this review was hard to write because I had to be careful how I worded things but I think I got my point across in a way that doesn’t spoil anything.

  3. Awesome review. I wanted to read it, but now your words have bumped it up to the top of my list! Unreliable characters do make excellent narrators, it adds this waft of doubt that keeps you question everything.

    • The book has had loads of fab reviews so it was maybe just me that felt it fell a bit flat. Also, it was only a few chapters where it dragged on a bit for me but once it picks up again it is so fast-paced. I reckon it’s worth you giving it a go.

    • The first part of the book is really good because it’s all such a mystery and the latter part is so fast-paced you just can’t stop reading. There are just a few chapters in between where I felt it lost the level of tension it had previously had. I’d still recommend the book though, it has a lot that’s good about it.

  4. So mnay books seem to go a bit flat in the middle. I feel pressure must be put on authors to achieve a certain length, but as a reader I’d rather read a shorter, tighter book than one that sags in the middle. Great review!

  5. I’ve been dithering over this one for a while. Your review has given me the little push I needed to buy it. The lure of an unreliable narrator has won out over the book falling a bit flat in the middle. Thanks.

  6. Pingback: Weekly Wrap-Up (10 April 2016) | RatherTooFondofBooks

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