Creepy and unsettling, this Australia-based read is part domestic thriller, part mystery, and all dark foreboding as the story weaves an ominous path through the trials of three adolescent foster family charges.
As each girl suffers domestic tragedy and is “lucky” enough to find herself sequestered in Wild Meadows Farm, a foster home in the 90s – a picturesque white farmhouse with a wide porch, shutters and a pool – they have no idea what exactly is in store for them. Beginning, ending and completing revolving around the wavy, golden haired Miss Fairchild, who is as sinister and atmospheric as any matron encountered within the pages of a gothic noir read.
Jessica, the first of the three girls to arrive with Miss Fairchild, is vulnerable, conscientious and a people-pleaser. Traits which, unfortunately, set the stage for her own long-running and heartbreaking personal trauma. Norah (with an ‘h’), is tough as nails and given to violent rages, none of which, however, will make her stay with the despotic Miss Fairchild any easier. Alicia, who has thus far only experienced affectionate care is suddenly flatly and unequivocally unloved, or even, unliked, by her new carer, and faces her eleventh year in a setting that will likely be the undoing of her entire self-worth and identity.
Flipping across two timeframes, (the girls’ childhood, and then twenty-five years later) and interwoven with a mysterious twisty subplot that gradually becomes clearer, the plot moves at a rapid (almost too rapid nearing the end) pace.
An absorbing and disquieting read, I couldn’t put this one down, and only partially guessed the completely chilling ending.
A great big thank you to #Netgalley, the publisher and the author for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.