July 2017, 400 pages
Kate has spent fifteen years bringing global injustice home: as a decorated war reporter, she's always in a place of conflict, writing about ordinary people in unimaginable situations. When her mother dies, Kate returns from Syria for the funeral. But an incident with a young Syrian boy haunts her dreams, and when Kate sees a boy in the garden of the house next door — a house inhabited by an Iraqi refugee who claims her husband is away and she has no children — Kate becomes convinced that something is very wrong.
As she struggles to separate her memories of Syria from the quiet town in which she grew up — and also to reconcile her memories of a traumatic childhood with her sister's insistence that all was not as Kate remembers — she begins to wonder what is actually true...and what is just in her mind.
It's difficult to say much about Nuala Ellwood's twisty psychological thriller without giving away more than I want to. But I can say it didn't develop the way I expected, and kept surprising me all the way through.
The plot emerges gradually, as each sister relates her story and reveals her memories to us. They shared the early trauma of a frightening home life, with an abusive father and a mother who seemed powerless (or unwilling) to defend herself or her children from his rages. However, their recollections of that life don't really match up, and both have their own personal demons to deal with. And a mysterious estrangement keeps them from being of any comfort to each other.
Can't say I found the sisters — Kate and Sally — particularly sympathetic, but the relationship was intriguing and their story haunting and compelling. There are several mysteries at the heart of the book, and even a bit of supernatural atmosphere. And for a relatively long book, it was actually a pretty quick read. All in all, a good suspenseful tale.
Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge .