Today I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Fragile by Sarah Hilary.
A modern Gothic thriller from an award-winning and critically acclaimed author –
a REBECCA for our times.
Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong. So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands. But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for…
Absolutely superb. I adore this type of novel. Filled with suspense, atmosphere, unreliable narrators and that creeping sense of dread the seems to filter through from page one. To put it simply, Fragile was wonderful and I absolutely loved it.
It has been described as ‘a REBECCA for our times’ and I can see that here. Rebecca is one of my all time favourite novels, I have reread it many times and one I feel I will never tire of. This comparison is used quite often, but many times I feel that although you can see the inspiration of the novel, the quality of writing that Daphne Du Maurier brings is very hard to meet. Sarah Hilary has that skill, she writes beautifully, her words pull you in and her plotting and construction are just excellent.
I’m not going to talk about plot here, I think the synopsis above is enough and I wouldn’t want to spoil a single moment but I will talk about how the novel made me feel. When I picked up the book, I was coming straight from another. My reading schedule has been packed and to be honest I kind of wanted to switch the TV on for a bit and switch my mind off. But, I had been so looking forward to Fragile ever since I saw the synopsis when Anne emailed me with details of the blog tour – and to be honest reading is never a chore. So I picked it up and thought okay, half an hour and then I can pop the TV on. Let me tell you that television stayed off. I was completely hooked. It grabbed me and held on not letting go until I reached the very end. The atmosphere was chilling and this group of characters were so fascinating (and scary at times) that I just had to see where the story went. I found Nell particularly intriguing and couldn’t quite work out who she was – good or bad (or perhaps a mix of both).
This is a contemporary novel but I really enjoyed how Sarah added a sense of the past – and in a way life within Starling Villas felt as though we had stepped back in time or into another dimension. There is the sense of the house being hidden, the idea that quite often events unfold under our very noses but we walk on by oblivious. When you walk through the doors, you know something isn’t right. Robin Wilder is a bit of enigma and Nell discovers very quickly that not all is as it seems in Starling Villas. She is determined to discover it’s secrets though, but at what cost?
I could talk for hours – this would make a wonderful book club book and there is so much to discuss regarding plot, writing style and techniques, characterization etc. etc. etc. But I will only say that this is a brilliant novel and one I wholeheartedly recommend.
My thanks go to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the publisher for sending me a review copy. It was incredible!
About the author
SARAH HILARY’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year, was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick and The Observer’s Book of the Month. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness, the second in the series, was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize. Fragile is her first standalone novel.
Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry.