Holly Aitken, snug in her cottage in a holiday village on the Suffolk coast of the North Sea, loves her husband Jordan, her new baby Benji, and her seven-year-old daughter Marley, absolutely and unconditionally.
So when Marley, typically a bright and bubbly chatterbox, begins to exhibit strange and unsettling behaviors, Holly finds it hard to quell her rising panic, despite her husbands assurances to the contrary. Holly, who suffers from a congenital heart defect, is used to being “handled” – after all, extreme stress in her condition can be dangerous, if not downright deadly – but Holly knows, deep in her heart with all the certainty a mother can bring, that something is just not right.
In trying to coax answers from her troubled and uncommunicative child, Holly decides on a strategy allowing her daughter to post pictures and written messages day by day into a “Worry box” – a modified shoe box they set up together – that she’s hoping will serve as a safe and controlled release-valve for Marley’s self-generated fearful messages.
The process, as it unfolds, is both fascinating, and terrifying, – without giving the plot away (no spoilers here!), it soon becomes apparent that Marley has a story to tell, and one that is brimming with “secrets”. The challenge of course, for Holly and the reader, is how to interpret Marleys cryptic and childlike messages. Parsing out Marley’s story becomes all the more intriguing when set against the backdrop context of Holly’s complex and unusual family – including her enigmatic husband Jordan, her dramatic and beautiful foster-sister Amy – and her somewhat sinisterly handsome neighbor Phil.
The author has several tricks up her sleeve and I enjoyed the twists and turns as the plot unfolds, as well as the themes interwoven throughout the narrative. In particular, the very interesting thought that, although it may not always be apparent to the adults around them, children are always watching. And as to what exactly they may be seeing, well, that’s a whole other interesting thought.
A great big thank you to the author, NetGalley and HQstories for an arc of this book.
My stop today on the @HQStories #blogtour for “TheSecretKeeper’sDaughter by @samkingbooks