Splintered Light by Cate Sampson

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Splintered Light by Cate Sampson

Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fab thriller in which an old murder sets three teens on a collision course. Who is responsible for the death of Charlie's mother and will the whole truth ever come out? Tense, dark drama with characters to care about. Great stuff.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1471115836

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When she was just a child, Leah's face was horribly scarred in an attack in which her mother and another woman died. And it's all brought horribly back when the man convicted is released years later after new evidence has emerged. Charlie's father is that man. And Charlie wants more than anything to reunite with his exonerated father and help him get revenge on the people who falsely accused him. Then there's Linden, newly released from a young offenders institute, whose brother Victor has an inexplicable obsession with this years-old crime. All three teenagers are defined by a single calamity. But what really happened?

Ooh! Splintered Light is super! I really enjoyed Carnaby, Cate Sampson's first crime thriller for the YA market and I did wonder if she could produce a second story, along the same lines, that was as good but avoided being a repetition. And I'm sorry that I doubted. Splintered Light has a great many similarities with Carnaby but it's really not like reading the same book all over again. Not at all. There is the same, page-turning, intricate plot. There is the same big-hearted concentration on characters struggling with the odds that are stacked against them. There's still a crime to be solved. But this is a fresh story, where the unseen connections are the pivots for the plot, while in Carnaby we thought about an unreliable narrator.

We can guess whodunnit fairly early on. But to understand the hows and whys takes longer. As Sampson gradually reveals the connections and relationships between her characters and the events, we build up the big picture. It's sad and seedy and violent but it isn't entirely hopeless. Chunks of (splintered) light shine through the bleakness - the blossoming of adolescent love, the kindness of a kickboxing instructor, the chance of a job and some self respect.

I loved all three of the main characters. Leah is spiky and bolshy and determined and - hooray! - make-up and fashion-free. Linden will break your heart as he tries to break free from a life of petty crime despite all the obstacles. And poor Charlie too, as he struggles with dyslexia and a father who couldn't care less about him, while failing to recognise the love and offers of help he actually does have in his life.

Honestly. It's great stuff, Splintered Light. It doesn't just work as a crime thriller; it works in its wider themes too - family loyalty, grief, growing up, moving on. This story comes highly recommended by me. Hurry up and write another, Cate Sampson!

If you haven't read Carnaby yet, then you should. I think you might also enjoy Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks.

Buy Splintered Light by Cate Sampson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Splintered Light by Cate Sampson at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Splintered Light by Cate Sampson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Splintered Light by Cate Sampson at Amazon.com.


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