The Death of Her by Debbie Howells

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The Death of Her by Debbie Howells

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A woman claims that her young daughter is missing, but on searching her home, police can find no evidence that a child ever lived there. Does Angel really exist, or is she a figment of a tortured mind?
Buy? maybe Borrow? maybe
Pages: 352 Date: August 2017
Publisher: Macmillan
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781509834648

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In a quiet part of rural Cornwall, villagers are shocked to learn that a local woman has been attacked and left for dead in a maize field. So severe are her injuries, that her memory has been affected and she struggles to remember details of her life. She tells the police that she thinks her name is Evie. Then, she remembers something else; she has a three-year-old daughter called Angel. Where is Angel, and what happened to her when her mother was attacked? The police frantically search for Angel's whereabouts, but on closer examination of Evie's cottage, they find no evidence of a child ever having lived there...

The Death of Her makes good use of the unreliable narrator theme. Evie is so shaken up, she is unsure of many things, but remains convinced that her daughter is out there. However, an old acquaintance from school, Charlotte, comes forward and states that 'Evie' is actually 'Jen,' a girl who was previously embroiled in a missing-child case many years previously. Coincidentally, the little girl that went missing at that time was the same age as Angel. Could Evie be confusing the past and present? How reliable are her memories? Or could she be hiding something?

The story uses multiple narrators to tell the tale. We begin with Charlotte's perspective, as she is encouraged to spend time with Evie in the hope that she can recall more of her previous life. We also follow Jack, a police investigator, as he tries to piece everything together. Casey, the sister of the missing girl has a darker story to tell, of how the disappearance of her sister opened deep wounds that refused to heal and fractured an already broken family beyond repair. The story twists and turns and we find ourselves on uneven ground; never really knowing who we can trust.

Despite the intriguing premise and atmospheric locations, I did feel somewhat let down by the actual delivery. The book is marketed as a Haunting Psychological Thriller, but the thrills are few and far between and there is a lot of padding where nothing actually happens. We never get any sense of real threat or danger to Evie. There are a few moments in the book that had the potential to be terrifying, especially as the location of Evie's cottage was in isolated woodland, but nothing is ever made of this. Whenever a character is put in danger, they are suddenly rescued, 'Deus Ex Machina', by some outside source, which mean we never get to feel that suspense and tension that is so vital in this type of book. It didn't seem to be well researched and the depiction of police investigation in particular, came across as unrealistic in places.

In conclusion, The Death of Her is an interesting story with engaging themes and strong characters, but if you are expecting a tense psychological thriller, you may be disappointed.

Bookbag also enjoyed Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G Thompson, a harrowing tale of child abduction for those who enjoy psychological thrillers with disturbed characters.

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