Tuesday 13 December 2022

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner #BookReview #SoPretty @Ronnie__Turner @OrendaBooks


Fear blisters through this town like a fever…

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end. 

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner is published in paperback on 19 January 2023 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

It's difficult to believe that the author of So Pretty is still in her early twenties. The power and beauty of the writing is just stunning. Her words, her plotting, her characterisation; they are all sublimely done, appearing effortless. 

So Pretty feels like a mash-up of Royston Vassey from The League of Gentlemen, with a contemporary gothic horror feel, along with the claustrophobic feeling of Dickens, as the small, chillingly creepy shop and its inhabitants are described. It is flawless from beginning to end and will send chills down your spine as you read. 

Rye is a small town with a small, insular community. It's the type of place where everyone knows everyone's business and newcomers are not trusted. Whilst both Terry and Ada have been welcomed by the community, on the surface, they are not locals. They both have their reasons for finding and settling in Rye, and both of them will do their best to hide those from their questioning neighbours. 

Berry and Vincent is a small curio shop in the middle of town. It's a place avoided by people who have lived in Rye for years, the only trade being from a few tourists in the summer months. However, Terry is drawn to the shop and takes a job as an assistant to the owner, Mr Vincent. Every single person that he meets tells him that he's making a mistake, and to get out, as quickly as possible. Ada and her young son Albie are also attracted by Berry and Vincent, regularly visiting its dark corners and examining the odd wares on display. 

It's not long before Ada and Teddy, the two newcomers become friendly, and this is just the beginning of a relationship that will take the reader into a bizarre and strange world. One of obsession and mental illness, of terror and cold, calculated events that become life threatening for those involved. 

There's a a malignant feel throughout this story, a darkness that never lets up, yet the writing is incredibly beautiful, conjuring up images that will stay with the reader long after turning the final, and shocking final pages. 

Dark, chilling, with a touch of genius. So Pretty is highly recommended by me. 

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. 

At an early age, she discovered a love of literature and dreamed of being a published author. 

Ronnie now lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. 

In her spare time, she reviews books on her blog and enjoys long walks on the coast. 

Ronnie is a Waterstones Senior Bookseller and a barista, and her youth belies her exceptional, highly unusual talent. 

Twitter @Ronnie__Turner

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