By Anna Bailey
What it’s about?
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.
Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.
Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….
What I think:
This is such an engaging book.
I know everyone describes things as ‘unputdownable’ but this really is.
What fascinated me is that even the characters that you feel the most are deeply flawed or damaged.
Whistling Ridge is such a dark town. Under the facade of respectability and religious devotion lie dark secrets. People that smile at church on a Sunday but domestic violence and alcohol abuse are rife and the town advocates vigilante justice.
The disappearance of Abi is central to the book with time lines switching between the present and the past. The past focuses on the day that Abi’s father, Sam, punched a hole in the wall and the events surrounding that.
I had so many theories about Abi’s fate and they were all proven wrong – though definitely kept me guessing.
The ending is bitter sweet with a sense of hope for some of the characters despite the constraints of the world they are living in.
The characters were beautifully drawn and the descriptions of the town.and surrounding area were vivid and atmospheric. I really like the writer’s style and will definitely read more Anna Bailey in the future.
I was lucky enough to take part in a readalong organised by Tandem Collective and have really enjoyed discussing different aspects of the book.