I found the first half of this novel to be slow and uninteresting. I almost stopped reading. I'm glad I continued because the second half of the novel made it all worthwhile.
The beginning of the novel is clear cut. A teen gets upset with phoniness of adults and runs away, hiding in the woods near her small Welsh village. We read of her survival skills and her thoughts. I found Rhiannon very immature to be nearly eighteen years old. I felt she acted more like she was thirteen. This part of the novel may be more exciting to youth readers but I found it uninteresting.
A change in my reading interest happened when visitors arrived in the village. The arrival of these strangers with a hidden agenda forces the villagers to ultimately face a reality hidden for a generation.
This is where the strength of the novel shines through and redeems the early part. We read of the heavy toll the villagers have carried because of the secrets of the past. We also see how Rhiannon and others grow when the events of the past clash with those of the present.
I was pleased to find by the end of the novel that it is one of characters facing their demons and conquering them, although much pain and conflict was required. The potential for discussion on this topic is not reflected on the discussion questions included.
I am unclear to whom I would recommend this novel. Young readers may like the character study of Rhiannon in the first half of the book. Older readers would benefit from the growth in the villagers in the latter half of the book.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Claire Wong is originally from Wales and how lives in Yorkshire. She works in charity communications. This is her debut novel. You can find out more and read her blog at https://clairewongwriting.wordpress.com/.
Lion Fiction, distributed in the U.S. by Kregel, 304 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Kregel. My comments are an independent and honest review.