Thursday, 3 May 2018

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey: Review

"Whistle in the Dark" begins with an ending, of sorts. Lana, a depressed fifteen-year-old who has been missing for four days, having disappeared from a holiday in the Peak District, has returned safely, much to the relief of her frantic parents. But Lana won't say where she's been, only repeating rather unhelpfully that she "got lost". The story follows Lana's distraught mother Jen as she struggles, mainly unsuccessfully, to communicate with her daughter and unravel the alarming mystery of what's happened to her during those four days, 

I loved this book, Emma Healey's second after the highly successful Elizabeth is Missing. "Whistle in the Dark" is a very different but, for me, an equally compelling read. It's a difficult story to categorise - not a psychological thriller, not a family drama although there are elements of both, along with a definite dash of the dark and sinister. It seems everyone has their own ideas, some very bizarre, about where Lana's been. Where does the truth lie, and what has the effect on Lana been?

There's a hint of the unreliable narrator about Jen, who admits to having apparently hallucinated people and conversations in the past. Random appearances of a cat they don't own, overheard conversations in Lana's room - what's real and what's imaginary?

Ultimately Jen's distress and frustration at her strained relationship and failure to communicate with Lana are very believable - the situation she's in is awful and it's no wonder her imagination runs riot at times. Some reviewers have complained of finding Lana unlikeable - I don't think she's meant to be all that likeable for much of the story, as she certainly doesn't act in likeable ways, even if we can sympathise with her mental distress. But maybe that's the point because love never falters, even when constantly challenged.

The story is written in quite a fragmented way with lots of little interludes and ruminations on various things, and I really enjoyed this style of storytelling. All in all, a great read which I found very satisfying,

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