Friday 29 March 2024

The House of Mirrors by Erin Kelly #TheHouseOfMirrors @mserinkelly @HodderBooks #BookReview


One of them has killed before.

One of them will kill again.

In the sweltering summer of 1997, straight-laced, straight-A student Karen met Biba - a bohemian and impossibly glamorous aspiring actress. A few months later, two people were dead and another had been sent to prison.

Having stood by Rex as he served his sentence, Karen is now married to him with a daughter, Alice, who runs a vintage clothing company in London. They're a normal family, as long as they don't talk about the past, never mention the name Biba, and ignore Alice's flashes of dark, dangerous fury.

Karen has kept what really happened that summer of '97 hidden deep inside her. Alice is keeping secrets of her own. But when anonymous notes begin to arrive at Alice's shop, it seems the past is about to catch up with them all ...

The House of Mirrors by Erin Kelly is published on 4 April 2024 by Hodder & Stoughton. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

The House of Mirrors is a sequel to this author's debut novel; The Poison Tree, which I read way back in 2010. It is a long time ago, and I've read a lot of books in that time, including all of Erin Kelly's works. I read this as a stand alone story, I did not try to remember the detail of the first book and it really works. Whilst I'd urge anyone who hasn't read this authors earlier works to do so, you can pick this up and enjoy it without reading The Poison Tree. 

It is twenty years after that eventful summer of 1997, when Karen met Biba and her brother Rex for the very first time. It was a summer that shaped them all, changed their lives and their outlooks. It turned Karen into the overly protective, almost paranoid woman that she is today. It took years from Rex's life as he served a prison sentence. It's a time that Karen and Rex have tried their best to put in their past. 

The summer of 2017 has similarities to those days in the past, with sweltering heat causing chaos on the London streets, and the events of the 1997 seeming to rear their ugly, and unwanted head once more. 

Karen and Rex's daughter Alice is opening a vintage dress store in a small side street of the city. She's worked hard to make the shop so fabulous on social media, and her parents have worked hard to support her too.  Although an exciting new venture, Karen and Rex are worried that this may make them more noticeable, they've managed a quiet life for the past years .... they are proved correct. 

Alice begins to receive strange, anonymous notes at the shop. She's a huge true-crime podcast fan and cannot let this go, she needs to know more and it is not long before she is keeping secrets of her own. The ghosts of the past are not resting peacefully and the impact on this small family is massive. With just the family characters, and the addition of Alice's boyfriend Gabe - a man with secrets of his own, this is a tight narrative, usually seen from Karen and Alice's perspectives. 

Erin Kelly excels in creating a dark world that draws in her readers quickly. Her characterisation is immaculate, her settings sublime and the slowly unfolding plot line kept me hooked throughout. There are things that I didn't anticipate at all, shocks galore and twists that blow the mind. Oh, and that ending! What a stunner, it's perfect and left me reeling a little. 

I have read and enjoyed everything this writer has produced. Her books offer something a little different with their mix of thrills, family secrets and gothic darkness. I love it. Highly recommended. 

Erin Kelly is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Poison Tree, The Sick Rose, The Burning Air, The Ties That Bind, He Said/She Said, Stone Mothers/We Know You Know, Watch Her Fall and Broadchurch: The Novel, inspired by the mega-hit TV series. 

In 2013, The Poison Tree became a major ITV drama and was a Richard & Judy Summer Read in 2011. 

He Said/She Said spent six weeks in the top ten in both hardback and paperback, was longlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier crime novel of the year award, and selected for both the Simon Mayo Radio 2 and Richard & Judy Book Clubs. 

She has worked as a freelance journalist since 1998 and written for the Guardian, The Sunday Times, Daily Mail, New Statesman, Red, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Born in London in 1976, she lives in north London with her husband and daughters. 

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