Fragile – Sarah Hilary

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

Sarah Hilary’s new novel FRAGILE will be published on 10 June 2021 by Pan Macmillan. Mick Herron called it ‘a dark river of a book’ while Erin Kelly said, ‘Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart.’

Sarah’s debut SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015. It was a World Book Night selection and Richard & Judy Book Club pick. The latest in her D.I. Marnie Rome series NEVER BE BROKEN was published by Headline in 2019.

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My Review:

I have read all of Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series which I absolutely adore and when I heard she had written a standalone novel, I was excited and intrigued and as soon as I received an invitation to join the blogtour organised by Random Things Tours I jumped at the chance.

Where to start with Fragile? Well I can say it’s completely different to any of Sarah’s previous books, the characters and the storyline are both fascinating and addictive and I found myself reading this at every possible opportunity.

Nell and Joe are foster children who have escaped a toxic and unhealthy foster home and are now living rough on the streets of London. When Joe disappears after visiting Starling Villas, a house in London, Nell manages to get a job as a housekeeper there under the employment of Dr Robert Wilder, a strange and controlling character and his terrifying wife who seems to enjoy tormenting Nell.

Nell has the saddest and most tragic past, discarded by her birth parents and left to fend for herself from the age of 8 in a foster home. The chapters about her time in care are heart-breaking and as a parent it’s particularly difficult to read. Struggling with guilt about something awful that happened in the foster home and the reason she and Joe ran away keeps the reader gripped and concerned in equal measures.

The writing in this novel is sublime, it’s practically poetry and whilst the storyline is dark, Sarah Hilary has created an atmospheric and emotionally intense book about jealousy, love, loss and revenge.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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