#BookReview: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

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About the Book

We all went to school that Tuesday like normal. Not all of us came home.

When the unthinkable happens, six-year-old Zach is at school. Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, he is too young to understand that life will never be the same again.

Afterwards, the once close-knit community is left reeling. Zach’s dad retreats. His mum sets out to seek revenge. Zach, scared, lost and confused, disappears into his super-secret hideout to try to make sense of things. Nothing feels right – until he listens to his heart . . .

But can he remind the grown-ups how to love again?

 

My Thoughts

Only Child is about seven year old Zach and opens with him hiding in a cupboard at school with his teacher and classmates as gunshots ring out in the corridor. The police arrive and Zach is led to safety but we soon find out that his older brother was killed in the shooting. Zach is then left to try and make sense of what has happened and how to get through it.

Only Child has such a powerful opening chapter – the description, through a child’s eyes, of being huddled in a cupboard for safety was terrifying. It really made my heart race and I was hoping he would be okay. The book gradually moves towards being about how a family can ever begin to come to terms with losing a child in the way they did, but also how a young child can begin to get over such trauma.

It broke my heart when I, as an adult reader, could understand the minutiae of an argument but Zach had no concept other than that the adults around him were shouting and it was upsetting for him. It was horrible seeing him try to process his own grief while his parents were falling apart trying to work through their feelings. I can’t even imagine what it must be like but there were parts of this book that felt so visceral and real to me.

If I’m to be honest though I did struggle with this book having a child narrator at times as it did become repetitive in places – it was irritating how many times Zach tells us that someone ‘shook their head yes’. At other times it didn’t ring true that he was the age he was. We know he struggles with his reading and yet he can read the word sepulchre at the graveyard. These were small niggles though in a book that was otherwise very powerful and very moving.

Rhiannon Navin deals with this all-too-real subject with real sensitivity, and this is a powerful, gripping and very moving novel.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Only Child is out now and available here.

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#BookReview: Rattle by Fiona Cummins

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About the Book

He has planned well. He leads two lives. In one he’s just like anyone else. But in the other he is the caretaker of his family’s macabre museum.

Now the time has come to add to his collection. He is ready to feed his obsession, and he is on the hunt.

Jakey Frith and Clara Foyle have something in common. They have what he needs.

What begins is a terrifying cat-and-mouse game between the sinister collector, Jakey’s father and Etta Fitzroy, a troubled detective investigating a spate of abductions.

Set in London’s Blackheath, Rattle by Fiona Cummins explores the seam of darkness that runs through us all; the struggle between light and shadow, redemption and revenge.

It is a glimpse into the mind of a sinister psychopath. And it’s also a story about not giving up hope when it seems that all hope is already lost.

My Thoughts

I was nervous of requesting this book as I’m such a wimp and don’t like being scared. I’d started to see reviews around of it though and it was really drawing me to want to read the book and find out more. I’m so glad I got a copy as it’s such a brilliant read.

The bone collector is such a creepy character. He’s a tall, thin man who can make himself almost invisible in the way he blends in. The idea of him being like a scary character within a storybook, and then somehow seemingly coming to life around Jakey with strange nightmare-like unexplained happenings, but also in that he’s a real person is enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. He exists in reality and has a life outside of the horror he’s committing. I think he’s one of the most psychopathic characters I’ve read in a really long time.

I love how the book starts off with you not being sure who the creepy man is. There is the story of a little girl Clara going missing, and alongside that the story of Jakey. At the stage where you don’t know how, or even if, the children are connected it leaves you feeling very unsettled. The pain that a family must go through when a child is missing is palpable in this novel, and that added to the building sense of horror as we, the reader, know what is happening to the child really ramps up the tension.

This book reminded me a little of Mo Hayder’s novels in the way the horror slowly creeps up on you and then leaves you feeling very, very unsettled and unnerved but unable to stop reading.

Rattle is dark and twisted and very, very creepy but I loved it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unnerving novels that creep up on you.

Rattle is due to be published on 26 January and is available to pre-order here.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.