Monday, June 8, 2020

I Went In Blindly...and Came Out Just As Blind

AUTHOR: Francine Toon
PUBLISHER: Doubleday
PUBLISHING DATE: January 23, 2020


They are driving home from the search party when they see her. 

The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men. Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she's gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren's mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father's turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it's no longer clear who she can trust. 

In spare, haunting prose, Francine Toon creates an unshakeable atmosphere of desolation and dread. In a place that feels like the end of the world, she unites the gloom of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times. 

Well, now that was interesting.  I really don't know how else to describe it.  I was highly anticipating this book and I'd love to be able to tell you what it's about and recommend everyone pick it up,  but basically, I'm still not sure what I read.  I do agree with the synopsis in that Toon does desolation and dread really well because I did get that from the prose.  But unfortunately, nothing really happened until about the last 30 pages of this book and by then I just wanted it over.

Lauren is a ten year old who lives with her father, Naill, in the Highlands.  Several years ago her mother left under mysterious circumstances and Lauren struggles everyday to remember what she was like.  Niall is not the best of fathers and I vacillated between thinking he was so lost in the grief over his wife left and thinking he was a creepy child molester.  Don't worry - no spoiler here so you'll have to read it if you want to know (or DM me and I'll save you the sorrow).  Lauren also gets a lot of slack from the school kids because her mother was the town pariah, or witch, or maybe both, before she left.

One day Lauren's older friend Anne-Marie goes missing and the small Highland town starts looking for her.  Lauren is also searching for her friend and lots of people suspect Niall.  Perhaps because no one really likes him, perhaps because he is the town drunk prone to blackouts, or perhaps because they also get a creepy child molester vibe from him.

So is this book really scary?  No.  Is it haunting?  I'd say yes.  Toon does have a way with words and she did a wonderful job with the Highland setting and the feeling of hopelessness in the town and in its people.  But did I enjoy this book?  No.  As I mentioned, nothing really happens until the last 30 pages or so and while there are a few supernatural elements, they weren't prevalent enough to grab my attention and hold it.  I'm sure lots of people might enjoy this book but it just wasn't one for me.



  1. I've been really curious about this book, but now after reading your review I can safely take it off my TBR. I still love the cover, though!

  2. I don't like when authors hold all the most exciting parts to the very end. Think I'll pass on this one.

  3. That's too bad because she could have really expanded on that premise and storyline. 😕

  4. Oh dear. Atmosphere really does only get you so far.

  5. I was wanting to try this one. The synopsis and cover are intriguing. Thinking I'll give it a pass now.

  6. Oh dear, that is a shame. I will avoid this.
    Lynn :D

  7. I simply can't abibe waiting for something to happen all through a book and not get it until right near the end! Sounds like one for me to avoid!