Title: The Girl From Widow Hills
Author: Megan Miranda
Published: August 18th 2020
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery
Rating: 3.5 stars
The new novel from Reese’s Book Club Hello Sunshine August 2019 pick, Megan Miranda. Everyone knows the story of the girl from Widow Hills.
When Arden Mayes was six years old, she was swept away in terrifying storm and went missing for days. Against all odds, she was found alive, clinging to a storm drain. A living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book, and fame followed. But so did fans, creeps and stalkers. It was all too much, and as soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and left Widow Hills behind.
Now, a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden is known as Olivia. With the twentieth anniversary of her rescue looming, media interest in the girl who survived is increasing. Where is she now? The stress brings back the night terrors of Olivia’s youth. Often, she finds herself out of bed in the middle of the night, sometimes outside her home, even streets away. Then one evening she jolts awake in her yard, with the corpse of a man at her feet.
The girl from Widow Hills is about to become the centre of the story, once again.
‘Or perhaps there was no tangible connection at all but a tug at their memory: Wasn’t she that girl’s mother? The girl from Widow Hills? Remembering the story, the headlines. Pulling out my name, tracing it across time and distance through the faintest trail of paperwork.’
The Girl From Widow Hills is the fourth novel from New York Times bestseller Megan Miranda. A story of fractured memories, uncertainty, fear, the past and trauma, The Girl From Widow Hills is another page turning psychological suspense tale from Megan Miranda.
The Girl From Widow Hills follows the complicated life of Olivia, a woman haunted by her tragic past. As a six year old, Olivia disappeared following a terrible storm. Missing and feared dead, this six year old managed to stay alive by clinging to a storm drain. Olivia’s disappearance and rescue managed to capture millions at the time, which in turn saw Olivia swept up in a media storm. Despite the instant fame, Olivia changed her name and tried to put her troubled past behind her. Two decades later we learn that Olivia is still plagued by the disturbing memories of her traumatic past. With sleep problems and nightmares occupying her current state of mind, Olivia faces further inner turmoil when a dead man is discovered in her yard. This shock discovery forces Olivia to confront some hard truths about her past.
I have to agree with the back cover endorsement of The Girl From Widow Hills offered by fellow thriller writer Jane Corry. Jane Corry states that Megan Miranda’s book is, ‘an intelligent, pacy read, with characters who aren’t always what they seem. You might not get a good night’s sleep again.’ I feel this statement more than adequately describes The Girl From Widow Hills. I found I raced through the pages of Megan Miranda’s fourth novel, but I can’t say that is my favourite novel of her collection.
What I appreciated the most about The Girl From Widow Hills was the structural format this book adopted from the opening. Not only do we have a story told through the eyes of a rather untrustworthy and troubled narrator, we also view the defining past events of this tale through a number of different narrative devices. From speculative newspaper articles, to revealing interview transcripts, blog entries and letters, Miranda has definitely added an extra dimension to her narrative.
The lead’s voice is a rather prickly one. I did find Olivia to be quite aloof and underhanded. I was never sure where I stood with Olivia and I couldn’t place my trust in her at all. The trauma and events of the past that followed Olivia made it hard to completely connect to this lead protagonist. Although I felt sorry for what happened to Olivia, she was still very untrustworthy. Miranda has clearly pulled on the popular device of an unreliable narrator for her latest novel and she utilises this structural device very well.
The supporting cast adds plenty of interest and mistrust to the tale. There suspects aplenty, possibilities to pursue and theories to test throughout the story. Miranda relies on her signature last minute twist to deliver a game changing move to her readers. The pace is set to an even beat, which ensures that the pages of this novel turn with ease. In terms of the conclusion, you need to be open for a rather far fetched turn of events, which may or may not sit well with you.
With themes of PTSD, trauma, neglect, family issues, unsteady relationships, safety and trust floating around The Girl From Widow Hills, Megan Miranda’s latest is an engaging read.
The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda was published on 18th August 2020 by Allen & Unwin. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Girl From Widow Hills, Megan Miranda, visit here.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.