Title: The Cuckoo’s Cry
Author: Caroline Overington
Published: September 29th 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins – AU
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 4 stars
A compulsively gripping lockdown thriller by the bestselling author of The One Who Got Away
On the eve of the global lockdown, Don Barlow opens the door of his old beachside cottage to find a pretty girl with pink-tipped hair, claiming to be his granddaughter. She needs help and has nowhere else to go.
He welcomes her in, and so begins a mystery set in unprecedented times: with the virus raging outside their home, the girl cannot be asked to leave, but what does he risk by having her stay?
As Don and the girl start to forge a bond, Don’s adult daughter has her own suspicions about what the newcomer is after. But, unable to travel, how can she protect Don and discover if the girl really is who she claims to be?
Award winning author Caroline Overington is an innovative and diverse storyteller who treads new ground with her COVID-19 set psychological mystery title, The Cuckoo’s Cry. Compulsive, puzzling, surprising, twisty and binge-worthy, The Cuckoo’s Cry is a great one sitting style read.
Set in the early days of the global coronavirus pandemic, The Cuckoo’s Cry sees an elderly man named Don welcome a complete stranger into his home, after this young woman claims that she is his granddaughter. This stranded girl places her faith in Don, revealing that is she is without a home or employment. Don decides to give this stranger a chance, believing that he has no other option due to the pandemic. Don knows that he is taking a big risk, but his heart tells him he needs to do the right thing and accept this girl who claims to be his granddaughter. It does not take long before this lonely old man connects with the bright young woman in his home. However, Don’s daughter Danielle is on high alert as soon as the girl arrives on the scene. Unfortunately, lockdown restrictions prevent Danielle from taking any action. The question remains, who is this girl and does she really have a family connection to Don?
Carving out a niche for herself in the contemporary fiction world, Caroline Overington returns with her new novel, which represents the talented Australian author’s step into the niche genre of COVID-19 inspired fiction. I am sure that The Cuckoo’s Cry is just the start of many stories to come that will feature this unprecedented time period. Current, relevant, modern and in touch with today’s evolving world events, The Cuckoo’s Cry is a short burst style novel that I devoured in just one evening.
I really loved the Australian flavour and local taste prevalent in this new tale from Caroline Overington. The scene is set very well from the opening of The Cuckoo’s Cry and it is carried right through to the close. Every country around the world has had their own unique and trying set of experiences of the global pandemic and I appreciated how Overington was able to present the impact of coronavirus in this novel from a local perspective. For those currently in the process of lockdowns and restrictions, this novel may do one of two things. It may heighten the experience and feel too close for comfort. On the other hand, it may offer a sense of reassurance and understanding in the face of a very trying time in our current day living. Overington does some great world building with this novel, centering the experience of the global crisis engulfing the world at the ground level. I appreciated this component of the story and I feel that it was a core strength of The Cuckoo’s Cry.
Onto the characters. We have a fairly small cast set to contend with in The Cuckoo’s Cry. I immediately warmed to Don, the central figure of this tale. Overington uses Don’s character to highlight issues around the elderly, ageing, care, support, loneliness, isolation and vulnerability. These are all important areas of concern that should be brought to our attention and it works in this fictional format. The role of Morgan in this story is an interesting one. I was highly suspicious of Morgan from the onset of this story and I don’t think I let my guard down the whole time I was immersed in Overington’s novel. Morgan’s influence in this story allows Overington to capitalise on her mystery and psychological moments. This pivotal character also helps the reader to see the bigger picture in terms of the behaviour, decisions, poor actions and movements of those placed under stress. Don’s daughter Danielle was a figure I was able to sympathise with and connect to on many levels. I was in tune to Danielle’s suspicions and concerns. Overall, we are presented with a great set of characters in The Cuckoo’s Cry.
My only slight criticism of The Cuckoo’s Cry would be its condensed size. It is printed in a larger spaced-out format and it is a concise read, notching up a page count of just over two hundred pages. However, I was going through a slight reading slump when I picked this one up and it gave me the kick start I needed to fast track my reading. Despite it’s length, The Cuckoo’s Cry is a very compelling mystery, filled with short and unexpected surprises, that will keep you engrossed until the final paragraph.
Thought provoking, up-to date, fast paced and enjoyable, The Cuckoo’s Cry is a great page turner.
The Cuckoo’s Cry by Caroline Overington was published on 29th September 2021 by HarperCollins – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Cuckoo’s Cry, Caroline Overington visit here.
*Thanks extended to HarperCollins Books Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Cuckoo’s Cry is book #89 of the 2021 Australian Women Writers Challenge