BOOK REVIEW | Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

3/5 stars

CW: Graphic depictions of suicide.

Ok. Wow. Where to start?

Part existential crisis, part completely disturbed. This is a crime novel about a cult and it’s victims, but unlike anything you’ve read before. 9 people stand atop the Chelsea bridge, wait for the passing train to stop within its view, and jump in unison…this is one of many similar events across the UK, with the numbers of casualties rising. Each victim is called to their end when they receive a letter in the mail containing 4 simple words: “nothing important happened today”.

Told in the 3rd person, we learn about the victims. They are referred to as nobodies, or “the People of Choice”. In reality, they are a doctor, teacher, poet, parents, an au pair, a young girl grieving the loss of her mother…not nobodies. Who is behind these tragic events? How does a group of strangers unite to perform this final act together? Detective Pace finds himself compelled to the case, even though it’s not his assignment – he’s off on leave and undergoing therapy.

This book is extremely, and I can’t stress this enough, violent and graphic. I was very uncomfortable during quite a few sections, and was close to putting it down many times. Will Carver is a fantastic writer and that’s what kept me reading. The final section of this book is excellent. Detective Pace starts to connect the dots, and as a reader you are compelled to see how it comes together. I wanted more of the book to be like this, but then I guess they would make it an average crime read. Average this is not.

This is a really tough book to review. Those who contemplate the meaning of life, society, and the point of anything – you may find some value here. Crime fiction readers looking for something completely different may enjoy this too. That said, I can’t say I’d recommend this to anyone else.

BOOK REVIEW | Unspeakable Things by Jess Lourey

3/5 stars

*I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Unspeakable Things is available now.

Unspeakable Things follows Cassie, coming of age in the 1980’s, and her older sister Sephie as they navigate both a troubled home life as well as rumors of children being taken in the town of Lilydale, a small community in Minnesota.

This is a slow burn mystery, with multiple red herrings at play – tension is building up to something sinister, and it seems that almost any of the adults in town could be implicated. Most of the action, and the best parts of the story, take place in the final chapters of the book. Unfortunately, the final reveal does not come as a surprise.

I really enjoyed parts of this book, and found others to be wholly unnecessary. Without giving too much away, there are elements at play which do nothing to move the story forward, but I suppose are rather to establish a dysfunctional home life for the sisters. But, we already know that some of the people closest to them are unreliable, so there are things I could do without.

Strangely, the incredibly important epilogue was left out of the book. To read this final section, readers must head to Jess Lourey’s website to see where the central characters end up. To me, the epilogue was critical to my full understanding and resolution of the story, so it seems an odd choice to leave it out.

Note that this book does have descriptions of abuse towards children, as well as implied assault by a parent. It’s not extensive, but this could certainly be a troubling read for some. Overall, it was ok. I liked Cassie and rooted for her, and found myself moving very quickly through the book at the end.

BOOK REVIEW | Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

3/5 stars

*I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from Simon and Schuster via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Release date: March 17, 2020.

If you know the horrifying true story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and her mother Dee Dee, then you know the basic premise of Darling Rose Gold. This one swerves from the original story a little and gives us a twist towards the end, but it felt like Wrobel heard the Gypsy Rose story and just fictionalized it. She does give a nod to some of her sources in her Acknowledgements, but I think this book would be a better read for those who aren’t familiar with its origins.

Rose Gold suffered at the hands of her mother, Patty, for most of her childhood. Patty, who herself was physically abused as a child, made Rose Gold sick by poisoning her for years as a result of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). She shaved Rose Gold’s head for sympathy, and spent countless hours at medical appointments under the guise of helping her ailing daughter. The community rallied around this sick child, showering Patty in sympathy. Years later, Patty has been released from prison and is reunited with Rose Gold.

This book was ok. It’s a page-turner, a quick and easy read, and yes, it’s entertaining. The writing is mediocre – I’m starting to find it hard to overlook similes that make no sense (can someone tell me what on earth a “pop tart bed” is???), and the use of overly colloquial language such as “f’ed up”. I didn’t expect this to be literary by any means, so maybe I’m just too pretentious a reader to enjoy a book simply for entertainment’s sake.

With all that said, this book is easy to read and hard to put down. I wish Wrobel went deeper into the psychology and trauma of MSBP. This is a fightingly disturbing cycle of abuse that leaves children severely traumatized. While I felt compelled to finish the book, I found it just ok. I’m in the minority here, as most reviews for this book are excellent. So, if you’re looking for a twisted, fast-paced thriller that isn’t a typical domestic drama, this could be worth picking up.