Title: My Mother’s Secret
Author: Sanjida Kay
Published: May 23rd 2018
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery, Psychological, Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Your mother has a secret.
Do you really want to know what it is?
Stella’s mum, Emma, has always been a little strange, but now she’s behaving really oddly. Stella is convinced her mother has a secret. She knows something terrible happened in her mum’s past, but she doesn’t know what; even her dad, Jack, says Emma won’t talk to him about it.
The teenager decides to follow her mother and find out what she’s hiding. But Stella has a dark secret of her own.
Nothing can prepare Stella for the shocking truth. And now she knows that if anyone else finds out their secrets, the revelation will tear their family apart.
Sanjida Kay’s third novel and the second piece of work I have read by this author is a meticulously plotted domestic noir, which slots into the psychological thriller and mystery genres. It deftly combines two timelines and three contrasting point of view, revealing a family in crisis after a deadly secret linked to times past controls the lives of more than one family unit. My Mother’s Secret put the spotlight on the scenario of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and how this has the potential to shatter your life.
My Mother’s Secret begins with the character of Lizzie Bradshaw, a young mother and wife, who travels away from home to work. On her way home one day, Lizzie’s life is irrevocably changed when she becomes the chief witness to an awful crime. The fallout from witnessing this crime is a heartbreaking choice that will haunt Lizzie for years to come. Kay also introduces the voice of Emma Taylor, a mother of two, who holds a secret so dangerous it could threaten the existence of all those she holds dear. Connected to Emma’s story is that of her oldest daughter, Stella. Emma’s daughter is one perceptive teenager who is convinced her mother is concealing something from their family. Emma is determined to expose the truth, at any cost. My Mother’s Secret considers how all of these people’s lives are interlinked to one life changing incident, which occurred years ago.
The front covers tagline of My Mother’s Secret states, ‘you can only hide for so long’. It is an enticing and bewildering premise that serves up plenty of scenarios as to what this book might explore. On the whole I found My Mother’s Secret well written, methodically plotted, twisty and absorbing. It did take me a little by surprise in the beginning. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get on with the novel as a whole. I found it hard to get a handle on all the characters and what part they played in the overall proceedings of the book. But after a few chapters I settled into the groove of My Mother’s Secret and I found myself quite taken in by the ensuing story.
I like the way My Mother’s Secret is structured. Dividing the book between three different points of view provides the reader with a wide eyed and comprehensive picture of the central story. Kay has a good handle on each of these differing perspectives. She successfully embodies the mind of emotionally distraught young mother Lizzie, fearful Emma and suspicious Stella. I can only imagine how hard it would be to write and swap identities, but Kay takes this aspect of My Mother’s Secret in her stride. I also appreciated how the book was clearly separated in two different timelines, the past and the present. This serves to heighten the tension, atmosphere and the puzzle element of the storyline. Kay gently reveals titbits, leading the reader slowly into the path of the central mystery. I enjoyed this aspect of the story very much.
I am finding this review very hard to go into any great amount of detail, for I am mindful of revealing too much about the plot or twists that will expose the crux of the story. What I will say is I appreciated the well thought out plot, the flooring twists (which come late too), the clear characterisation, the gentle literary references and ominous atmosphere, which all compliment one another. The use of short and succinct chapters works to unveil the events of the story and serves to draw the reader further into the book. I personally love this style of novel, especially when I read a lot of psychological thrillers. Before I knew it I had already got through a third of the novel when I selected this book late into the night!
Sanjida Kay is an author who proves she is worthy of a place in the field of domestic fiction based psychological thrillers. It is a popular genre, but My Mother’s Secret is one not to be missed.
My Mother’s Secret by Sanjida Kay was published on 23rd May 2018 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of My Mother’s Secret, Sanjida Kay visit here.
*I wish to thank Allen & Unwin for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.