Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott

The book opens with a hook in the form of a Prologue – an accident occurs where Caroline Joseph is killed and her six year old daughter Tasha, a passenger in the car, disappears. Fast forward six years and David Joseph is happily remarried to Emma, and has a beautiful son Ollie.  Meanwhile a body is found in the nearby woods. The police initially fear it may be Tasha, this theory is discounted when Tasha mysteriously appears alive and well in the Joseph’s home, unwilling to talk about where she has been for the past six years.  As time passes on Tasha’s behaviour becomes more sinister and erratic, and Emma starts to fear for her and Ollie’s safety.  What kind of monster has this girl become?

I had mixed feelings on this book.  On reading the synopsis I was initially excited about reading the story as the idea of a creepy little girl appearing from nowhere and wrecking havoc on a family’s life sent shivers down my spine.  The story started well upon Tasha’s return, with her father David over the moon to have her back yet her stepmother Emma suspicious of her secretive behaviour, however, the further into the book I read the poorer the story became.  The book was filled with twists and turns as one would expect of a mystery however at points the secondary plots took over, losing sight of the main story.

The second issue I had with the story was the characters, try as I did, I couldn’t connect with any of them.  As the story unfolded I knew I was supposed to empathise with Tasha, after all she was only a child who had been through a horrific ordeal, but Tasha herself did not display enough remorse for her actions for me to do so.  I found Emma moderately likeable but found myself thinking had I been in her position I may have behaved more firmly and decisive in the beginning.  That being said I was rooting for them towards the end as everyone wants to see a happy ending.

Overall the story was OK, the ending was a bit predictable despite the story not panning out quite how I had originally thought, and it did leave a few loose ends that I would liked to have seen tied up, but on the whole enjoyable with enough plot twists and surprises to keep you interested.

I would rate this 3 out of 5 stars, great for a holiday read.

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