Book Review: The Unravelling by Thorne Moore

Book - The UnravellingThe cover of this book, and the words ‘Children can be very, very cruel’, immediately drew me in, hooked into finding out what horrendous thing could possibly have happened to the protagonist (Karen Rothwell) as a child – something so traumatic that she has forgotten it, until now. At first Karen seems strange, in the way she remembers, the way she interacts with her colleagues and other unusual behaviour, but gradually you realise that something which happened years ago has had a profound and devastating effect on every aspect of her life.   

I read The Unravelling in two days. The more I read, the more I desperately wanted to know, just as Karen does, exactly what happened on that day in 1966. There are so many questions that need answering. Why was Karen so obsessed with the beautiful Serena Whinn, and yet she has forgotten her until now? How can someone forget the entire existence of their best friend? What happened to the other girls in their circle of friends, now middle aged? Why does her sister bear a grudge against her? And what is the significance of an apple rolling into a storm drain?

The pace of this book, once it gets going, is fast and continuous. There are no convenient moments to put it down and make a cup of tea. It draws relentlessly towards an ominous ending, towards the angelic, divine personality of Serena Whinn. Everyone wanted to be Serena’s friend, but Karen is haunted by strange chunks of memory that keep returning, bit by bit until, eventually, she faces the truth.

It was a relief to get to the end at last, to discover what really happened all those years ago, as Karen returns to her old neighbourhood to face her past head on. I liked the fact that this book is told from the point of view of someone who is mentally unstable, describing herself as mad and deranged, acknowledging that she is not the most reliable of narrators, but determined to get to the bottom of this mystery once and for all.

The Unravelling is both an unravelling of manipulation and pretence as well as an unravelling of the mind, as Karen delves into her own memory and confronts the ghosts of her childhood. But it is also cathartic. It is a thrilling read, and believable too.

Read an interesting post from the author about the setting for this novel.

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Declaration: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher

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