Sunday, 7 July 2019

The Unmaking of Ellie Rook – Sandra Ireland

It’s not often that I’ll pick up a thriller. Granted, this is mostly down to the fact that I am ridiculously easily spooked, and even the tamest crime thrillers will have me jumping at my own shadow for months after reading, but I was intrigued enough by the blurb of The Unmaking of Ellie Rook to take the risk, and it was well worth the gamble.

A single phone call from halfway across the world is all it takes to bring her home . . . ‘Ellie, something bad has happened.’Desperate to escape her ‘kid from the scrapyard’ reputation, Ellie Rook has forged a new life for herself abroad, but tragedy strikes when her mother, Imelda, falls from a notorious waterfall. Here, according to local legend, the warrior queen Finella jumped to her death after killing a king. In the wake of her mother’s disappearance, Ellie is forced to confront some disturbing truths about the family she left behind and the woman she has become. Can a long-dead queen hold the key to Ellie’s survival? And how far will she go to right a wrong?

The novel is an immediate page-turner. Although the narrative tone is fairly to-the-point and unembellished, what the novel occasionally lacks in richness of language, it certainly makes up for in its compelling plot and pace of storytelling. It may be an age-old mystery-thriller trope, but the plot is anything but predictable. 

It takes time to connect with our first-person narrator, Ellie, but as the novel progresses and we begin to understand more of Ellie’s past and consequently, her motives, she becomes much more lucid and engaging. With a focus on the plot driving the novel, there isn’t as a lot of space dedicated to the development of other characters. Although this results in some of the supporting characters feeling a little two-dimensional, Sandra Ireland continually demonstrates a perceptive and insightful approach to portraying human behaviours and interaction, particularly surrounding domestic abuse.

Another strength of Ireland’s writing is an ability to evoke a vivid sense of place. From the physical descriptions of Ellie’s surroundings to the tense atmosphere of her childhood home, opening up the book is a seamless and engrossing transition into Ellie’s world.

The Unmaking of Ellie Rook is a gripping and moving novel, which delicately yet unapologetically examines the dark and difficult issues at hand. And, you know, it might even have persuaded me to pick up psychological thrillers from time to time…

*I was gifted this book in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.

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