Publisher: Blackbird Books
Release Date: 1st July 2016
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Plot: When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness. But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…
That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina. She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she?
As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…
I received an eARC from Blackbird Books in exchange for an honest review. This is the first time this has happened and I may have got a lil’ giddy when it did. Yay!
I am not a fan of people.
It’s not that I don’t understand them, or that I can’t empathize or sympathize, I just see the things that they do and say and think and I have come to the conclusion that people are bad people.
I’m an optimistic girl, I know.
So when I began reading Valentina I was intrigued; I knew this was a psychological thriller, I knew these people would be bad people within the context of the story. But I didn’t realise how personally hurt I would feel.
Shona McGilvery is a very unobservant protagonist. I was continually yelling at her throughout the book to open her eyes, to not be so deceived. We are supposed to know these things and she does not, but with everything just there in front of her, it was hard for me not to want give her a good shake and tell her to wake the fuck up. But, while I wanted to do that, I felt everything that she felt.
And so when things….without spoiling anything, go awry, I became very angry for her. For the last half of the book I was cheering her on; I wanted her to do everything and anything horrible. I needed aggression, and while I feel Shona let them off easy, I know that many readers would have found Shona an unrelatable and unlikeable character if she went further.
I think it’s very powerful when a story can make you not just sympathize with a character but empathize; this shit was happening to me, and I had to constantly remind myself that I’m sat in my house in South West England reading a book, I’m not actually in remote Scotland having my life taken away from me by actual psychopaths (I’m still angry). I needed to write this review right now (half past midnight) just so I could get the passion across.
I really enjoyed this story, despite my seething rage, and it’s such a strong debut!