Published By: Hodder and Stoughton
Released On: 27/04/2023
Roach – bookseller, loner and true crime obsessive – is not interested in making friends. She has all the company she needs in her serial killer books, murder podcasts and her pet snail, Bleep.
That is, until Laura joins the bookshop.
Smelling of roses, with her cute literary tote bags and beautiful poetry, she’s everyone’s new favourite bookseller. But beneath the shiny veneer, Roach senses a darkness within Laura, the same darkness Roach possesses.
As Roach’s curiosity blooms into morbid obsession, it becomes clear that she is prepared to infiltrate Laura’s life at any cost.
**Contains Thematic Spoilers**
Thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Is there a more anticipated 2023 book in literary circles than this one? And it’s a debut! A powerful debut at that.
The development of the two main characters – Roach and Laura – was fabulous. Roach is obviously meant to be the weird one, the one we should be wary of. But at first, I didn’t see her like that. Yes she was odd and weird and obsessive and creepy, but I was finding myself liking her. Whereas I didn’t like Laura at first. I felt she was this Miss know-it-all and instantly grated. However, as it went along Roach became more uncomfortable and Laura became familiar. Roach began to cross many lines and you’re conflicted as to whether you can root for her or not. But in the end, I felt I couldn’t support her. Whilst I still enjoyed her uniqueness, I found it hard to justify what she was doing. Excellent development on both parts.
It was interesting to have someone dislikeable as the main character. Protagonists are usually nice and likeable and familiar, but Roach was none of those things. She’s unashamedly wrong. But yet we still root for her. You’ll find yourself rooting both for her and against her.
I found the whole serial killer obsession fascinating. It’s a bit controversial to admit you are interested in them, but given the amount of books, movies and TV shows inspired about them, there are clearly more of us with a fascination than we might admit.
I loved the setting of an independent bookshop. Any book that talks about books and stories is a winner for me. It’s like a love letter to the magic of reading with this backdrop of murder.
I admit, it was nothing like I was expecting. I was expecting it to be a murder mystery, or crime novel. But it’s not really. It was so layered. It’s got this power about it, but also this humour, it’s creepy and unsettling and beautiful to read.
It could have so easily strayed into the unbelievable, the fantasy, the spoof, the caricature. But it just sits on the right side. It’s never too much. Completely believable.
You won’t want to put it down once you start so make sure you have a free day. If you’re like me, it’ll stay with you even after you’ve finished.
I would probably advise not to read it before bed. I did, and then dreamt about serial killers. But if that’s your thing, then I won’t stop you.
There’s no need for a sequel, but I kind of want one. I want to see what happened next and what the future held for our characters.
I felt Alice’s exploration of grief, and depression and mental health is an excellent piece of writing. Sensitive but raw.
I can’t think of anything particularly bad to say about it. I’ve read the odd review that say it’s a bit slow in places but I don’t know where. In my view, it is perfectly paced. Slow enough to get to know the characters, but quick enough to get stuck into the action. The two leads are mesmerising, the concept and plot were unique and fascinating, and the ending was gold.
This will definitely be recommended time and time again. And whilst it’s due out in the UK spring (April), I think it would make the perfect dark autumn night read, when the wind is howling and the shadows grow around you.