The Cursed Girls by Caro Ramsay
|The Cursed Girls by Caro Ramsay|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Fast-paced and compelling: it's a book you're not going to want to put down. An engaging read.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 336||Date: June 2021|
|Publisher: Black Thorn|
|External links: Author's website|
Megan Melvick's earliest memory is of her fourth birthday: she followed her grandfather down to the pond, only to find that he'd hanged himself. Twenty years later she's back home again and this time the occasion is no less sad. She's there to say her final farewells to her sister, Melissa, who is dying of anorexia. As she dies, Melissa whispers 'sorry' to Megan but what did she mean? There were lots of things, minor and major cruelties, for which Melissa might have been sorry - or was it even a question? Was she asking if Megan was sorry for sleeping with Melissa's husband, Jago, on their wedding day? The Melvicks might seem to have everything - Ivan Melvick was Lord Lieutenant of the County and money was never in short supply - but there did seem to be a curse. In addition to Melissa's health problems, Megan was deaf and their mother, Beth, had left suddenly three years before. Would she come back for her elder daughter's funeral?
I've followed Caro Ramsay's Anderson and Costello series for some time and I was interested to see what Ramsay would make of a stand-alone thriller. The first thing you'll realise is that you need to get the characters straight in your head when you're introduced to the Melvick family, their staff and hangers-on. I resorted to a notepad to distinguish between Heather Kincaid ('Heather the Blether'), Beth Melvick's best friend and Deborah McEwan, mother of Carla, Megan's best friend who was burned to death on the day of Melissa's wedding. Deborah has a dubious past and a poor choice in men (I think she's been through a few husbands, not all of them her own) but she's now on the Melvick staff and does seem to have Megan's interests at heart. Not many people do: it was several years before anyone noticed Megan's deafness.
The second thing you'll realise is that this book has pace and you're not going to be able to put it down until you find out what happens The story alternates between Megan and Carla who speaks from beyond the grave and she's omniscient and between the two young women the story rattles along at a fair old pace and I finished reading far more quickly than I was expecting.
Ramsay gives an interesting perspective on deafness. It doesn't seem to bother Megan too much:
Funny how those that can talk think I will be interested in hearing; it's never that fascinating, believe me.
Megan has some hearing when she wears her hearing aids: sometimes they're useful - other times she prefers to take them out. She also has a mental problem: Dissociative Identity Disorder, which plays a part in how the story resolves itself. It's a fascinating portrait of a troubled young woman whose home is not a place of safety.
On balance, I think I prefer the Anderson and Costello stories but it's marginal and certainly look forward to what Ramsay writes next. I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
For a story with a similar background of mental illness, you might appreciate Pulse by Felix Francis.
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