Our Dark Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 13 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

I don't usually like stories with two different time lines but this one had me intrigued. This worked better than I thought it would. But it is a very slow burn of a read. It gets faster and more pacey as the story goes on, but it was hard to get into right at the start.
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Our Dark Secret is beautifully written story that plays out in two timelines, the 'then (1979)' and 'now' (1999). All of the characters are deftly developed by Jenny Quintana as the events that bond two unlikely girls together forever, are revealed. This story is a lovely combination of a sad family drama whilst taking a poignant look at the difficulties facing children coming from broken and dysfunctional families. In doing so, the story successfully interlaces the lives of people who are frequently misjudged. 

In Our Dark Secret, I was taken on a wonderful journey predominantly by the rather awkward and frumpy main character, Elizabeth, whose father walks away from his marriage to her mum, and gets involved with Charlotte, mother to the strikingly beautiful Rachel. Rachel becomes the object of Elizabeth's infatuation and also an obsession. This extremely well-written tale was also a gripping murder-mystery that had me captivated from the first page, and trying to guess the killer's identity certainly held my attention. Although the pace of the story was a little slow, the succinct chapters made this a quick read and I still really enjoyed Our Dark Secret. 

Reading this novel has inspired me to seek out a copy of Jenny Quintana's well received début, The Missing Girl.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Pan Macmillan/ Mantle via NetGalley at my request, and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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Jenny Quintana’s writing made my heart break for poor Elizabeth, but wow, I did not see where this story was headed because it broke all the rules for what are usually easy to follow mystery breadcrumbs leading me directly to the Gingerbread House in the woods. If I share any more thoughts I’d ruin this fantastic story, so I’ll tell you just go buy it now!
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Thank you NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for the ARC of this book. 
It took me a long time to get into this book and I actually gave up twice and went back to it.  I felt the story was a slow burner and it really dragged in places.  However, I'm glad I stuck with it as half-way through I started to enjoy it and although it was what I call a slow burner I did eventually enjoy it.
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Thank you to Netgalley for this advanced reader's copy in return for an honest review. Slow burn of a story that kept me guessing from start to finish. Hooked!
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What another fantastic storyline by this author, I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish and look forward to the next book ,
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An interesting flashback to 1978 with an insecure girl growing up in a dysfunctional family. A girl-crush leads to drama, uncovering dark secrets and leads to a lifetime of fear and hiding. 
Intriguing and believable. 
Evocative of childhood in the ‘70s 
An honest portrayal of family troubles in the ‘70s

An enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley for this free copy in exchange for an honest review
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Meet the narrator of Our Dark Secret, Elizabeth Valentine. Despite her great name she is a highly complex character, who invokes your sympathy when the author introduces her, detailing her background and home life. Set in the late 1970’s it’s clear from the beginning that Elizabeth is one of life’s misfits, destined to forever be watching from the sidelines. Bullied for her size from an early age, she cuts a sad lonely figure, not helped by her tendency to tell lies. 
 This is a beautifully written novel, evoking memories for those of us who well remember the era but the pace is slow with the author preferring to drip feed details. I think this is what is commonly known as a slow burner of a book but may well lose the interest of some. Certainly the promising beginning caught my interest and I was intrigued to discover Elizabeth’s dark secret. The author has captured beautifully the pain Elizabeth and her mother endure when her dad leaves them for another woman. Clearly this occupies much of Elizabeth’s day to day thoughts as we witness her home life falling apart with her mother destroyed by the betrayal. I found this heartbreaking although Elizabeth isn’t the only victim here since elder daughter Rebecca is left behind when Mrs Wright absconds with her younger daughter Melissa to start a new life with Elizabeth’s father. To be abandoned by someone you love (she’s a daddy’s girl) is made even harder when they choose another child over their own flesh and blood. You can feel the sorrow and anguish in Elizabeth’s words as she grapples with her new unwanted circumstances, feelings that will resonate with many. Her father, a bit of a ladies man definitely doesn’t deserve her adoration and made me quite angry at how easily he casts her aside. However as the storyline develops I found myself losing patience with Elizabeth as her self pitying and self centred nature seems to intensify along with her creepy obsession with Rachel. Obviously this sad lonely girl just wants a friend, desperately so, someone to love and the fact she’s never fit in is so well conveyed in these pages.
The past haunts present day Elizabeth, with the reader left to guess for the most part what this dark secret is. All we know is a skeleton has been found on the wasteland near Elizabeth’s former home but who is it and why is it there? Dark it is indeed as all the threads come together, finally making sense and I found myself enjoying the ending, having started to lose interest halfway through. Elizabeth definitely redeems herself in my eyes in these last pages (sorry no spoilers here!) which are again sensitively written, offering perhaps some light after years of darkness. 
Whilst the slow pace may not be to everyone’s liking I urge fellow readers to pick this novel up to appreciate the beautiful prose. It’s a sensitive novel capturing teenage angst, love, friendship and a disturbing dark secret. 
My thanks as always to the author and publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read in exchange for an honest review.
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Slow burning storyline with great characterisation throughout. Kept guessing until the final part of the story.
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Unfortunately I really struggled with this book and at times felt like giving up on it.   I did however stick with it but found it dragged and only got interesting at the final few chapters.  Sorry but just not for me.
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1978 - All Elizabeth had ever wanted was to be like every other fourteen year old girl,she didn't want to be lonely,weak,ignored Elizabeth. She wanted a best friend,someone she could share gossip with about boys and the make up and fashion tips that she got from My Guy and Oh Boy magazines. Then in the summer of 1978,which was also coincidentally the year before they found the first body, Elizabeth had her first encounter with beautiful, red headed Rachel. An encounter that would swiftly turn into an obsession and be the catalyst for a chain of events that would still be haunting Elizabeth's conscience twenty one years later.

1999 - Elizabeth is shocked when her old neighbour informs her that a second body has been discovered on the wasteland where Elizabeth used to have a secret den when she was younger. She knows that it is only a matter of time before the body is identified and the dark secret that she has kept hidden for so long will be revealed. So she decides that it's time to tell the truth about what happened all those years ago.

This mesmerising story is narrated by adult Elizabeth and flips back and forth between 1978 and 1999,there was also a couple of chapters that were set in 1969 and 1977. There was also references to the pop culture of the late 1970s like My Guy and Oh Boy (I preferred Jackie myself) and The Generation Game which brought back memories of my youth. Poor Elizabeth had quite a few striking similarities to myself when I was younger, I also felt like a outcast both at home and at school, the one who never got chosen during games and no one wanted to sit next too during school lessons. Events in her home life also mirrored what happened when I was younger so I couldn't help feeling a close connection with the teenage version of Elizabeth. We only get to know Rachel from Elizabeth's perspective so you have no idea what her opinion was of Elizabeth and if she actually thought of her as a friend or wether she was just using her for her own means. 

Our Dark Secret is a extremely well written tale of relationships and also a gripping murder mystery that had me totally captivated from the first page, the mystery of who the killer was and the identity of the second body discovered in the wasteland kept me guessing and frantically turning the pages. The characters were vivid and diverse, a number of them were no who they appeared to be. I read this outstanding thriller in one sitting,I just couldn't put it down. This is my first favourite read of this year, worth far more than five stars and very very highly recommended.
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"I didn't stop to consider that Rachel was a girl who under normal circumstances wouldn't have taken the time to say hello; that we were acquaintances, flung together through the misbehaviour of our parents. I was creating a fairy-tale friendship and the problem with fairy tales is that they're packed with bad characters as well as good. In fairy tales, it's obvious who those bad character are; in real life, it's more difficult to tell."

Clever but overweight and shy, Elizabeth is a teenager living unhappily in a Chelmsford suburb. Hero-worshipping her irresponsible and undeserving father and tolerating her distracted but well-meaning mother, Elizabeth longs to fit in. Friends Debra and John at school are the other outcasts, so when new girl Rachel arrives, she tries to obsessively catch her eye. Rachel appears to have it all, is pretty and immediately popular, but doesn't encourage Elizabeth. The pair are thrown together after their parents begin an affair. When a local woman, Peggy, is murdered where Elizabeth plays, she realises she saw Peggy with a man on that same day. Who is he and what does this mean for Elizabeth and Rachel? 

Our Dark Secret tells the story of two girls, two deaths, separated by two decades. Told from protagonist, Elizabeth's perspective, the novel moves between 1979 and 1999. This enables the story to be told as well as Elizabeth's grown-up perspective to be put on it, as she fears the dark secret will be revealed. I found Elizabeth rather difficult to relate to, perhaps because she took little responsibility for her own agency, wallowed in what she felt was her lot; however bearing in mind her childhood, with selfish parents, this is understandable. I wanted so much more for her. Rachel too was distant, again understandable considering the circumstances revealed as the novel progresses. Slower in parts, particularly to begin with, setting the scene, pacier in others, I didn't enjoy this as much as I expected. Well written, but a slow-burner, leaving me wanting more for Elizabeth.
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#OurDarkSecret #NetGalley 
Hell of a thriller. A must read. 
Elisabeth received a phone call and they told her that the body is found. The intresting thing is that she knew that one day they'll found that body. 
She and her best friend Rachel shared a dark secret from two decades. What is it? What will she do now? 
Elisabeth and Rachel are awesome characters. Narration of the story is captivating but simple. 
Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for giving me an advance copy of this book.
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Her past is about to catch up with her!

Following a telephone call from her old neighbour in her childhood town of Chelmsford Elizabeth's receives the news she's been dreading to hear "they've found a body" life  as she knows it is about to change.

She knew this day would come and it's time to relive the true events of the past.

This book is told in two time dimensions from flashbacks of the past to the present time. 

A story Full of uncertainty, where your friendship knows no bounds and you'd do anything to protect the ones you love.
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I thought this book was well written
but it did take me sometime to get into to it
felt something was lacking 
I did think the characters were strong and the story picked up pace towards the end 

Thank you netgalley, Jenny Quintana and Pan McMillian for allowing me to read and review this book.
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This was a quick read, with good writing, but I felt something was lacking to five it a full five stars!  I don’t think it grabbed me as much as some do, but still enjoyed it and read it quickly.  Maybe it was a slower burn, but it just didn’t grab me the way my five star rating books do.  Overall, it’s a good thriller with some thrills, chills, and shocks!  
Will make sure I buzz it up on the different platforms!
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This book evidences some good, solid storytelling by the author but where it fell a little short for me was in its originality and memorability. I didn’t find the story specifically original, and it seemed to lack any dynamite. For this reason I also didn’t find it very memorable. I enjoyed the story and I felt that for most of the book the tension was building nicely and I was psyching myself up for a great ending…and then, boom, the final sentence of the book arrived and I turned the page expecting more because the ending felt so flat…but there wasn’t any more. It just ended. Just like that. No big reveal, no twist, no dynamite. Okay, so with that said, the book felt slightly simple to me. Did it tell a story? Yes. Was it gripping? Mostly yes. Did it end with a bang and leave you mesmerized? Unfortunately not.

So, if you’re the type of reader that doesn’t need a big reveal or a “Wow” moment, and you’re happy with good storytelling and a somewhat straightforward story, then this one will be for you and you should give it a try. It’s a story that focuses on some topics that many people will connect with from their teenage years, namely being liked, being popular, wanting to get into the “cool” group at school, and so on. It’s also a story about very adult topics like divorce, broken homes, affairs and the effect of all this on the children. This is not a young adult title and it is indeed an adult thriller but for most of the book the lead character, Elizabeth, is thinking back to her childhood and the way her life unfolded at that time. And I generally love books that alternate between time lines. And I did like this one. I read it word for word and finished it. It was solid. But as I’ve said above, not specifically memorable for me personally.
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A story that was gripping right from the start with great characters that i could relate to. A book that I found very hard to put down.
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It was a very insightful novel, with a strong cast of characters. I enjoyed the story line very much and would definitely recommend this book.
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Absolutely loved this!  Well deserves the 5 stars. 

A fab page turner. Loved the characters and the storyline. As I kept reading, I wanted to find out more and more about the story. Loved it. Was kept thoroughly engaged throughout. Will see if there are any other books by Jenny Quintana. 

if you love drama, thriller books then this would be highly recommended. 

Thank you Pan MacMillan and NetGalley.
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