But even as I said this to myself, I knew I wouldn’t stop – Fran Dorricott.
This book was one that I very nearly missed out on due to my own misgivings and sheer stupidity. I had already requested a few books from Titan Books and thought, nope, not another one. It was only when Sarah, from Titan, suggested it after I had requested a different crime thriller that I thought why not? I am so glad that she did because it is one of the best contemporary crime thrillers I have read. It beats The Couple Next Door hands down.
Olive seems older than her age. She is quiet and thoughtful, loves asking questions and wants to know about the wonders of the world. She always does as she is told, until the night she doesn’t. The night of the solar eclipse. She wanders off to get a better view of the night sky, away from her older sister Cassie and her “friend”, Marion. She is never seen again.
Sixteen years later, Cassie – now a journalist – returns to that fateful town that changed her life forever. It is as though the fates and Bishop’s Green superstition have lured her back for what was to come. There is another solar eclipse, but this time, the town shuts it away with the history that has attached itself to it. It isn’t a time for the hope of new beginnings, but a time when things go wrong. Now, another little girl is missing, and Cassie is determined to find her.
Fran Dorricott tells this story with complete ease. It is such an easy book to read in terms of form and the protagonists’ voices. It is split into two timelines and two viewpoints. The first is Olive’s in 1999 and the second is Cassie’s in 2015. Dorricott eases between the two with such fluidity, with such distinctive voices, you are certain who is telling which part of their story. At first, I thought the Prologue was Olive’s only voice, however she flits in and out of the book like a ghost haunting the very pages. You want to know what happened to her. You want Cassie to find out, and you find yourself rushing through the book in order to discover the truth. Their traits are their strengths, but they are not perfect. Each are stubborn, and the two of them have more in common than they dare to hope. Despite the lack of Olive in the majority of the book, she is there with every word that Cassie thinks, and every move that Cassie makes, and despite their lack of sisterhood at a young age, that unbreakable, indescribable bond is there, even when they are lost to each other.
As for the mystery itself, I was guessing throughout. I had three suspects in my head. One of them was correct, but he was the second choice. I almost didn’t allow myself to think that this person could have done it and I understand why towards the end of the novel, at the revealing moments. The way Dorricott has written this character is incredibly engaging and dynamic, which is probably why people are kept guessing because you go through a phase of he isn’t capable of doing such a terrible thing. His psychology is really interesting too, the reasons why and what made him act the unforgiveable way he did.
I wish I could relive this book for the first time over and over again. It is the kind of story that grips me until I have completed it, and I love that Cassie is a detective in her own right, that it is her putting the crooked jigsaw pieces together even through bleary eyes whilst she fights her own tortured demons.
Her own tortured demons come in the shape of four women: Olive, her mother, her grandmother, and Marion. Olive, who she was supposed to be keeping an eye on whilst she flirted with Marion during the summer of ’99. Her mother who never got over the loss of her daughter, and the loss of her family. Her grandmother who was once so strong and is now a shadow of herself. And Marion, the love of her life, who played a part in the loss of her sister.
After The Eclipse is a debut that had me gripped from the word go. It is full of love and loss, thrills and chills, and set in a time that women make their mark through sheer willpower and determination. There is so much to be said about this book, but ultimately you need to experience it for yourself to know the incredible talent that is Fran Dorricott.
What thrillers have you been reading lately?
Love, Faye xo