Monday 18 January 2021

Girl A by Abigail Dean @AbigailSDean #GirlA @flisssity @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction #BookReview


‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.

Girl A by Abigail Dean is published on 21 January 2021 by Harper Collins. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

Crikey! This one is dark. It so gripping, yet horrific at the same time. The reader can feel a little voyeuristic at times, almost at though you are deep into something that you really shouldn't be part of.

Lex is 'Girl A', given that name by the authorities and the media after she escaped from her parents. Lex and her six siblings lived in what has become known as the 'House of Horrors'. They lived with their parents, and for most of us, that means they were safe. However, these children were far from safe. As their father's mental health deteriorated and he experienced more disappointment in life, he restricted his children's freedoms. Just before Lex escaped, the surviving children were chained to their beds, skeletal and dirty and almost beyond hope. 

The author writes sparingly. Lex is a difficult character to warm to. Of course, the reader will empathise with her situation, and be joyful that she managed to escape, but her detachment and often cold emotions make her difficult to understand. This is not a criticism. I loved how Lex was created, I adored the unpredictability of her actions, and her thoughts, she's complex and fascinating and drives the story so well. 

Lex's mother has died in prison and she made Lex in charge of her estate; just the derelict house of their childhood nightmares that has laid empty for years, and a cash lump sum. Lex knows what she wants to do with it but has to ensure that her remaining siblings are in agreement.  
The author then cleverly introduces the adult children, with flash backs to their beginnings.  This is a clever way to enable the reader to learn more about what happened to them individually, and how that treatment has impacted upon their adult lives. 

This is a powerful debut from an author who is incredibly talented. There's such a feeling of unease and distrust of the narration throughout that adds incredible depth to this story.  Lex and her siblings haunted me throughout the reading of this novel. It's a fine mix of psychological observation and darkest of family noir. 

Highly recommended by me. 

Abigail Dean was born in Manchester, and grew up in the Peak District. She graduated
from Cambridge with a Double First in English. Formerly a Waterstones bookseller, she spent five years as a lawyer in London, and took summer 2018 off to work on her debut novel, Girl A, ahead of her thirtieth birthday. She now works as a lawyer for Google, and is currently writing her second novel, The Conspiracies.

Girl A sold in the UK after a 9-way auction, and also sold in auction in the US. The novel has since been acquired in 23 other territories, and television/film rights have sold to Sony.

Abigail has always loved reading, writing, and talking about books. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AbigailSDean.

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