When I Was Ten

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 6 Aug 2020

Member Reviews

This is such a great psychological thriller. The tale of the two little Carter sisters who outwardly live in such a lovely fine house with parents who are held in such high regard within their village. You never know what goes on behind closed doors .......
Every  part of this book gripped me right until the very last page.
This is a book to recommend to anyone who loves thrillers, it is fantastic.
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I couldn’t put this book down, from the start it had me gripped. I loved the two intertwining time-lines which keep you utterly hooked. My heart hurt for those two little girls and I wanted to scoop them from the pages and keep them safe. My only slight disappointment was the ending as other readers have said, it didn’t leave me satisfied. It left me with unanswered questions and wondering if I’d missed something. Where did all that anger towards her sister come from? It didn’t make any sense, was she just so damaged? As other reviews have said, it leaned more towards the shock value then the actual richness of the story. Saying that, maybe I was a fool for hoping for a happier ending when reading such a book, but it felt unexplained and rushed. But overall a really good read and I’d still recommend.
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I’ve never read any books by Fiona Cummins before but ‘when I was ten’ was certainly a good one to start with! The book starts In 1997 with a young girl running away from a murder scene and i was hooked from the beginning. The story splits between then and 2018 to tell the story of the hill top murders and the lives and secrets of those involved. Dark and emotional at times this well written book is definitely one I’d recommend! Thanks to netgalley for my preview, available from August 2020.
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Meet the Carters - the family patriarch, Dr Carter, his elegant wife Pamela, and their two beautiful daughters, Shannon and Sara. Everyone in town knows them, the perfect family living their perfect lives in their perfect home. But then everything changes, when Dr and Mrs Carter are brutally murdered, stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors. The killer? Their daughter. The two sisters, once the best of friends, are torn apart - one spends eight years in a secure unit, atoning for her crime, while the other is placed in foster care, safely away from the limelight. But thirteen years on from the night of the murder, their story is back in the papers when one of the sisters speaks out for the first time. The aftermath of her interview will make everyone question what they thought they knew, and will set in motion a chain of events that will change everything...

Ok, so I will admit that at first I found this a bit confusing. The narrative alternates between Brinley Booth, a journalist who grew up with the girls and is now tasked with covering the story, and Catherine, who is one of the sisters living under a new identity. There's also sections in italics, written by an anonymous author addressed to an unknown person, included at the end of some chapters. Plus, some chapters from the perspective of the local MP, who is also the minister for justice. At first, I definitely found this to be a bit confusing, but you do eventually get to grips with it. I just felt like, especially at the beginning, there was a lot of confusion over who was who and what was actually happening. I also questioned whether you needed the sections from the POV of the justice minister - it didn't really add a lot, and I felt like you really wouldn't've noticed if his sections were cut. The only benefit they did add was to reflect on the power of the press and the insincerity of government officials meant to be protecting their people, but it just felt a bit unnecessary with everything else going on. 

A real strength of the book to me was the sections set in the past, which reflect on the home life of Shannon and Sara and serve to explain what happened and why. Through these sections, Cumming's creates a nuanced and careful exploration of the damage done by both physical and mental child abuse, and the impact it has on the psyche of those being abused. I will say though, that I found the motive to be a little black and white, and everything was a little overt considering it was meant to be hidden. In this sense, I think my main issue with this book was that a lot of the 'twists' were quite easy to guess at, including the abuse, which was glaringly obvious from very early on. Furthermore, within a few pages, I was pretty certain which sister Catherine was and who the author of the italics section was, and as soon as the flashbacks started I guessed what had actually happened that night. There was only one reveal right at the end that I didn't guess at, and that did fill a sizeable plot hole, so I guess I can't complain too much.

All in all, a mixed bag for me. I loved the sections set in the past, and found them to be incredibly well written when considering the sensitive subject matter being handled. However, I found the beginning of the book to be a bit slow and confusing, and while it picked up in the middle, the twists were a bit too well signposted for me. While this one wasn't perfect, you can definitely see that the author is a great writer, and so I would still look out for her other work. 

Disclaimer - I received an advance reading copy from NetGalley. This has not affected my review in any way, and all opinions are my own.
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What a tangled web we weave …..nothing is quite as it seems in this book, perfect parents, happy children they are all hiding secrets and guilt. This is a sit down and read in one sitting delight and I absolutely loved it.
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I really enjoyed this book!  A great story line that kept me hooked and excellent main characters.  I would highly recommend this book.
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I do find books about child murderers fascinating so was excited to read and review this book. I thought the book was well written, and intriguing. I enjoyed how there were narratives from both past and present. It touches on some difficult topics such as abuse but is also an important reflection on impact of early trauma on people. I was not surprised by the ending but enjoyed in nonetheless.
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I've loved everything Fiona Cummins has written and When I was Ten is no exception. An utterly mesmerising and suspenseful piece of work; chilling, sinister and flawlessly written, it kept me reading in to the wee hours of the morning! Fiona Cummins is a wonderfully talented storyteller. Highly recommended.
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Absolutely loved this gripping story, couldn’t wait to get to the end lots of twists and very cleverly written. The story is split into two parts before and after the event , both parts came together in the unfolding of this thrilling book .
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3.5 stars


Three women,or actually girls,know the truth of what happened the night Dr and Mrs Carter were murdered brutally with a pair of scissors.
This whole book leads up to us knowing the truth.
It kept me hooked for the best part of the book,trying to figure out what exactly was going on with the messages.
Shannon reaching out to find her sister to make amends? Something more sinister.
The scenes set where the parents abuse the girls,I felt were so good. Despite being minimal in description,they were tension packed.
I found the story line of the mp a distraction,and indeed of Catherine's husband's suspicious behaviour.
However,the story threw twists after twist at me,and they all seemed to fit perfectly.
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When I was Ten was such a thrilling read. I wanted to close it at times such was the eeriness I felt because of the tale Fiona Cummins told. The subject matter was evil, through and through, but hidden behind such ordinariness. It makes you wonder what's living around the next corner from you. Dr. Carter and his wife Pamela were killed and twenty one years later their daughter are made to relive their experiences of that night. Their lives will never be the same again. This was a tough read, but it kept me hooked. I won't forget it in a hurry!!!
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Absolutely loved this book. 
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Every page and every chapter had me completely and utterly gripped. We fead from different POV that leave us completely on the edge of our seats. 

Some of the most brilliantly and intelligently written work of recent reads. 

My only downfall  would be, I would be interested to know more on a deeper psychological level why the murders took place at such a young age. 

Overall an absolutely stunning read
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I enjoyed this, it was a quick easy read. I didn’t think it was as edge of the seat as I was expecting but it had a couple little twists. I did guess what was going to happen but there were a couple little things that were a surprise. Worth a read
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Loved the storyline.  It had me hooked with a delishous twist.
This was a refreshing change to the usual storylines for psychological thrillers.
It was also easy to read a few chapters and pick it up again a few days later.
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Wow what a chilling heart in mouth book  a few twists and turns but kept you reading to the end. Read it in a day as wanted to know the ending so badly
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'In eleven minutes and  fourteen seconds, Catherine Allen, who only wants to be ordinary, will be dead.'

I was intrigued by this opening line. We are introduced to Catherine, her husband Edward and her daughter, Honor. The other main protagonist is Brinley Booth, a journalist.  The author has chosen a multi narrative point of view alternating between the perspectives of Catherine and Brinley.

Seeds are sown from the beginning to let us know that everything is not quite as it seems. Catherine has been living with a new identity for many years, but it looks like she won't be able to hide much longer. Brinley has been asked to investigate  the 'Hilltop house murders., but she already knows more than she's letting on.

The story came alive for me in the second section, where we learn about sisters Shannon and Sara  Carter and their next-door neighbour, Brinley.  The real circumstances of the Hilltop house murders are revealed and there's a climatic event which pulls past and present and both protagonists together.

Throughout the book,  there are online messages in italics. Although this was revealed later, I did find they pulled the reader out of the story  and I wasn't sure we needed the chapter about the justice secretary.

However, I found this to be an engaging read with an interesting premise and would recommend it.
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This is one of those books that will stay with me. Thoroughly enjoyed every chapter and was sad once I finished. Loved the twists throughout the book and would 100% recommend
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Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Book dealt with a very difficult topic and it's impacts. Very unsettling. Loved it!
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When I Was Ten is about a childhood crime: a preteen killing their parents, the effect on her sister and the aftermath for both siblings.  The focus is on the recent publicity that threatens to create another media frenzy and hound the convicted killer out of hiding. 

Goodness what an exhilarating rush, the twists and turns kept me almost constantly on the back foot. It was a literal page turner that I read in one sitting as I couldn't bear to wait the following day to find out what happened next.  

This is a  clever book. Clever in the sense that it keeps you questioning what is said, and done and who to believe. The format of telling the story from the point of view of the girls directly affected by the death of their parents and the reporter investigating, with flash backs to flesh out the detail was ideal.  It made you pay attention, as the more information you found out, the likelihood conclusions you had just come to had to be adjusted.  My opinions and emotions switched frequently notably but not limited to anger, justification, righteous vengeance, incredulity, amazement and then back again to something else.  

Fiona Cummins skilfully highlighted the reality that abuse in the home by those resolved to hide it can be successful if the abuser is adept and/or perception of character is based on a promoted fictitious ideal.  It reminded me that people who enjoy terrifying others especially vulnerable ones, those they have authority over, are inhuman; there is something broken in them which they want to break in others.
 
It showed that there are many ways to be cruel. The most obvious being the suffering that the girls went through to maintain their parent’s standards of perfection, was crushing, heart breaking even and in places a tough read. Ultimately culminating in a trail of tragedy. 
 
When I Was Ten is firmly about the rippling effects of abuse and how it affects every part of your life, whether you were directly or tangibly related to the event. Together with he impact it has on your developing character and future. It also exposes parental relationships showing the bad and good: how parents can let us down badly, and conversely when there is love and care.  
 
This book is a must for those who love well written psychological thrillers, that pulls on the heartstrings but not gratuitously so and with characters that you are rooting for. It will make you feel big emotions, be judgemental and sincerely consider your views on several serious issues.  What a gripping read! 

4 Stars - Really Liked It
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Dr and Mrs Carter are brutally murdered by one of their young daughters.  In the present day we are introduced to Catherine, her sister Sharon, and a reporter called Brinley.  The story goes between the past and present and we start to find out about the events that happened and how this has impacted on the present.  A good story with great twist at the end, though I didn't enjoy it as much as some of Fiona's other books and I did find some parts a little confusing.  Still a good read - recommended.
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