Like most readers of popular fiction, I tend to follow authors I like. In fact I will more often remember the name of the author than the name of a book’s title.
Last summer I read “Lacey’s House” by Joanne Graham. A debut novel, “Lacey’s House” was very well-written and enjoyable. So… when NetGalley had another novel by Joanne Graham on offer I could not help but request it. I was not disappointed.
Although both novels were written as dual narratives, “To the edge of shadows” was very different from her first novel – though just as well written. Set in Devon, this psychological thriller (with the emphasis on the psychological) recounts the life of two emotionally damaged girls.
First we meet Sarah, who at the age of fourteen was the sole survivor of a horrific car accident that killed both her father and younger sister. Sarah has suffered many physical injuries and was also brain injured as a result of the accident. She suffers from amnesia with no memories of any kind prior to the accident. Her aunt is her steadfast supporter and guardian from the accident onward. Sarah lives a sort of ‘half-life’, with elements of behaviors that resemble autism. She is a creature of habit who finds security in routine – she counts her steps, she prefers the ‘usual’ over the ‘new’ which makes her daily life hold little if any variation. She cannot enter a car, as that brings back the trauma of the accident and makes her very upset. She suffers from nightmares.
Next we meet an unnamed girl. For most of the book we do not know who exactly she is. This of course is what holds the appeal of the novel. We want to figure out who she is and what her relationship is to Sarah. She too has had a traumatic childhood. Hers was the fate of the physically and emotionally abused at the hands of a volatile and mentally ill mother. Deserted by her father, her mother’s behavior toward her became worse and worse. She was not fed, bathed, given clean clothes, or shown any sort of affection. Eventually her mother abandoned her in the house where she was left alone for days…
The novel catches up with Sarah and this unnamed girl when they are young adults. The girl seems to know Sarah, but Sarah has no knowledge of her.
The girl is envious of the fact that Sarah doesn’t remember her childhood, while she would in fact like to forget hers.
We discover that this girl is inflicting emotional torture on Sarah. Entering her apartment when she is not there. Moving things about. Making phone calls from her landline. With Sarah’s continuing fragile emotional state these events disturb her greatly. The girl seems to enjoy this.
When we as readers come to find out who this girl is – we enjoy the ‘Ah-Ha’ moment that is the reason we read psychological thrillers.
Thanks once again to NetGalley for providing me with the ebook edition of this novel.