Originally published: 25 June 2020
Author: Rebecca Kelly
Published by: Agora Books
Length: 320 pages
Reading dates: 16-17 June 2020
I don’t usually do trigger warnings in my reviews but this book deals with sexual abuse of children and paedophilia.
What if you knew the truth but couldn’t remember?
The story opens with two detectives, Brenda and Denise visiting a teenage girl in hospital. 13-year-old Heidi was found badly beaten and left for dead in parkland. Her best friend was found dead next to her and her 7-year-old sister Anna is missing.
Moving forward to 2016, we find Denise is still in touch with Heidi who has no memory of what happened to her on that day or why. Her sister has never been found and her mum has never recovered from the trauma of what happened to Heidi and loosing Anna and is in a psychiatric unit, so Heidi is very much alone. Heidi’s memory is starting to return, frustratingly slowly and she wants to know more information about the case.
After Denise has filled Heidi in on what she knows, Heidi starts to do her own digging, starting by visiting Nina’s family who still live next door to her old childhood home. There she meets Nina’s mum and some of her now grown up siblings, who help to fill in some the gaps.
Mostly from Heidi’s point of view we hear from her at the age of 13, about her friendship with Nina and the old bunker they use a secret den. We also hear from her as a grown up as she starts to uncover the shocking events that led to her attack. As Heidi’s memory starts to come back, she is aware that she is being followed and her life is again at risk, as people become nervous about her remembering too much.
I found the subject matter of Monstrous Souls highly uncomfortable to read about, but it was a thrilling read none the less. The dual timeline worked really well – we as the reader are finding out about Heidi’s past at the same time as she is. Quite early on we learn that Nina is unhappy at home and dislikes her stepfather immensely – she wants to run away and begs Heidi to come with her. When is comes to light that Nina is being abused by her step father, Heidi’s safe, comfortable world is shattered. I felt so sad for the 13-year-old Heidi having to deal with these huge issues alone.
A gritty, dark and shocking read, Rebecca Kelly handles the subject matter with sensitivity and threw in a few extra twists that I did not see coming! A strong and confident debut.
Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the Netgalley copy and for inviting me on the blog tour. Please check out of the other reviews from the lovely bloggers below.
About the author
Rebecca Kelly was brought up with books but denied the pleasure of a television. Although she hated this at the time, she now considers it to have contributed to a life-long passion for reading and writing.
After a misspent education, Rebecca had a variety of jobs. She’s spent the last years raising her children but has lately returned to her first love – writing.
Rebecca lives in the UK with her husband and youngest son and an overenthusiastic black Labrador, who gives her writing tips.