The Crooked House by Christobel Kent - a survivors tale
The Blurb....Alison is as close to anonymous as she can get: with no ties, no home, a backroom job, hers is a life lived under the radar. She's a nobody; she has no-one and that's how she wants it.
But once Alison was someone else: once she was Esme Grace, a teenager whose bedroom sat at the top of a remote and dilapidated house on the edge of a bleak estuary. A girl whose family, if not happy, exactly, was no unhappier than anyone else's - or so she thought.
Then one night a terrible thing happened in the crooked house, a nightmare of violence out of which Alison emerged the only witness and sole survivor and from which she has been running ever since. Only when she meets academic Paul Bartlett does Alison realise that if she's to have any chance of happiness, she has to return to her old life and confront the darkness that worked its way inside her family and has pursued her ever since.
My ThoughtsI thoroughly enjoyed this rather twisty tale about Alison, a young woman who maintains a low profile, keeps herself to herself and is a survivor, literally.
She survived the unthinkable, surviving a horrific event, in her teens which would make the strongest of us crumble. When she went by a different name, when she was Esme, living in the crooked house in a remote rural location her family were cruelly and brutally slaughtered, whilst she cowered praying not to be dsicovered. But to say she esacped unscathed would be a lie. Witnessing such an awful events is bound to leave a mark. Little wonder as an adult she finds it difficult to make friends, to trust people and maintain a relationship. Her judgement can be flawed and whilst holding it together outwardly she can be a little flaky, and who can blame her.
When she finally meets a man she feels she can trust and is given the chance to return to the place she lost everything, she thinks maybe its time to face her demons, but going back can be as hard as moving forward and she begins to doubt her own memories, who can she trust if she can't even trust herself?
The crooked house is a creepy place set in a very tight knit rural location called Saltleigh where the locals mistrust incomers and seem to close ranks together.
Its a clever and twisty psychological thriller, a real page turner. My only small gripe is there are quite a lot of secondary characters to get to grips with and I did get rather confused especially in the middle of the book, when I wasn't sure who was who and who did what to whom any more!
I did like Alison/ Esme and felt sympathy for her, even when at one point she seems to be losing the plot a bit. I just kept thinking how could anyone go through what she had without being a gibbering wreck and admired her fortitude.
It's gripping and exciting and will probably appeal to anyone who enjoyed Broadchurch on tv as it has that same small town closed shop feel.