On the island of Sawkill, it’s not that unusual for girls to go missing, especially the pretty ones.

You are a small girl. You are mighty. You are fragile. You can move mountains. You are breakable. You will never break.

I wanted an atmospheric listen for my commute without it being too scary, so I thought this young adult horror would be a good fit. I was pretty disappointed in it, that might be partly down to the audiobook narration, but it just didn’t provide the atmosphere I wanted.

Marion has just moved to the island with her mother and sister, her father having died in an accident. It’s a new start for them and Charlotte catches the attention of the beautiful and rich Val Mortimer. The Mortimer family is matriarchal, the women keep their names and men don’t stick around for long.

Zoey, daughter of the police chief, doesn’t trust Val, all the missing girls have been linked to her. She blames her for the death of her best friend. Oddly all the missing girls are assumed dead rather than runaways and no one seems to be concerned that so many teenage girls vanish from this place. I liked Zoey’s dad the most but I was probably projecting Jim Hopper onto him. Actually there are a few things that seem very Stranger Things inspired near the end, I’m just not sure it fit this story.

Tragedy had touched Sawkill, again and again and again, but after each girlโ€™s disappearance, once a respectable amount of time had passed, everyone seemed to stop caring.

Lots of weird things happen; trees dripping blood, animals acting odd, talking moths… Marion has terrible headaches, which she starts to call the “bone cry”. Zoey seems affronted by the fact her father has a secret room, I think parents are allowed to have some privacy from their kids. And for some reason the answer is in A Wrinkle in Time. Huh?

I don’t expect young adult horror to be that scary (although it can be) but there was also no mystery. Except why the horses were suddenly freaked out all the time when they’d been living with the demon around for so long. You find out shortly after meeting Val that her family is aligned with some evil force making them lead girls to their deaths. So I was left waiting for the rest of the characters to catch up.

I might have missed bits due to zoning out on the audiobook, but the plot seemed all over the place. I just did not care what happened to the characters. And considering what Val did, the romance didn’t feel right.

Plenty of people are loving it though, so I suggest you take a look at Goodreads reviews if it’s something you think you’d like, it just was a bit of a disappointment for me.

Listening Notes

Lauren Ezzo’s narration is incredibly slow. I usually listen at 1.25 speed but ended up at 1.75 for this and bits still seemed drawn out. I looked up this narrator and it sounds like she specialises in romance and I think this might have been her romance voice. I don’t need it to sound like the narrator is swooning over the horrors of the island. When bad things happen to a character it shouldn’t sound like a sex scene. It was OK once I sped it up but it was lacking in atmosphere. She wasn’t the right choice for this book and I would probably avoid her in future. Although the parts from the island’s point of view sounded much more normal and suitable.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery

Book Source: Purchased