Friday 3 November 2017

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg @millieseaward @CrimeFilesBooks

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.
Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family.   
Imogen is convinced she's just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.
 But Ellie's foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen.  
And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger...

The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst is published in paperback on 16 November 2017 by Headline and is the author's third novel. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Relatively speaking, Jenny Blackhurst is still a 'new' author, this is her third book, but despite that, I've been looking forward to it for a long time. I was very impressed with her first book;  How I Lost You, which I reviewed here on Random Things back in 2015. Before I Let You in followed in 2016, again I reviewed it on this blog, and I was absolutely blown away by it. So, The Foster Child had a lot to live up to.

I may have sworn a few times whilst reading The Foster Child. There are characters and plot details that are so excellently created and I'm more than a little in awe of Jenny Blackhurst's imagination. OK, maybe I'm a little frightened by how her mind works ..... 

This is an eerie, spine chilling story that never, for one moment, lets up. The reader is carried along a very twisty path towards a reveal that is totally unexpected, but oh so very clever .... very very clever.

The Foster Child takes an age-old theme; that of the 'Devil Child'; think Damien in The Omen or Stephen King's Malachai from Children of the Corn and places it in an entirely modern setting.

Imogen Reid is a child psychologist who has recently returned to the town of Gaunt; the place where she grew up. It's clear from the outset that Gaunt does not conjure up memories of a happy, carefree childhood. In fact Imogen seems scared of the small town's streets and is especially fearsome of her own family home. As the story progresses, Jenny Blackhurst cleverly reveals tiny details about Imogen's past; both her recent history and her childhood. This makes for interesting reading, and the reader cannot help but compare Imogen to Ellie; the child whose case she is given to work on.

Ellie is just eleven-years-old and living in foster care after losing her entire family in a house fire. Things happen when Ellie is about, and woe betide anyone who may cross her as their fate is probably sealed. As a reader, it is sometimes uncomfortable to read how Ellie is treated by the people of Gaunt. Whilst one can almost understand, if not condone, the bullying from fellow children, Ellie's treatment by some of the supposedly responsible adults is horrific at times.
Jenny Blackhurst shows incredible insight into the human psyche; her accounts of the bullying behaviour of very young children toward Ellie are brutal and stark and leave nothing to the imagination.

The Foster Child is deftly plotted and entirely believeable, it is meticulously crafted with a gradual unfolding leading to a jaw-dropping ending that delivers more than one shocking reveal.

Jenny Blackhurst's writing get better with each novel; she really is up there as one of the best authors of her genre. I look forward to seeing what she thinks up next!

Jenny lives in Shropshire where she grew up dreaming that one day she would get paid for making up stories.

She is an avid reader and can mostly be found with her head in a book or hunting Pokemon with her son.

Her favourite film is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, but if her children ask it's definitely Moana.                

Find her Author page on Facebook
Follow her on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst

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