Cover Image: Such Pretty Things

Such Pretty Things

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Beautifully written, tackling grief and wanting with great sensitivity. A truly Gothic story of claustrophobia, isolation and a family slowly unravelling.
Was this review helpful?
Gripping! 

I finished it in two days.  The ending leaves you with more questions than answers.  The title doesn’t really lead anywhere and the saying is only mentioned a handful of times.  It’s gripping but nothing much happens.  I still enjoyed it.
Was this review helpful?
Very well written, very gripping story.
It gave me the chills, and it is not an easy thing to do, since I read spooky books quite often.
Definitely recommend.
Was this review helpful?
This is a new author for me. Such Pretty Things creeped and freaked me out in a good way. I’ll be checking out more of the author’s work. I thought this book was great. The comparisons to Henry James and Shirley Jackson are spot-on. The remote house the book is set in is the perfect place for sinister events to happen but you’re lulled into a false sense of security in the early chapters. Auntie seems so nice and she cares so much. She can’t do enough for her two wards. She’s even made them clothes. And if they don’t wear the clothes she spent hours sewing and make too much noise, well Auntie might get mad and we don’t want that to happen. The menace is this book is slow-burning and you’re never quite sure if it’s really there until the last couple of chapters when the menace punches you in the face. This is a terrific read.
Was this review helpful?
Such Pretty Things was a brilliantly written book. I was gripped from beginning to end; I desperately wanted there to be a happy ending. It was a dark story which started off subtle and ended up with complete horror. Brilliant book.
Was this review helpful?
Such Pretty Things is a dark, devastating horror with such lovely writing that I’m almost tempted to overlook its flaws. The gloomy house is the perfect setting for this story. There’s a looming sense of dread in the air and the tension is palpable. Why is there a graveyard in the garden? What are the creepy dolls in the house? Where is their uncle? Clara’s protectiveness towards Stephen clashes with Auntie’s desire for them to follow her rules. I loved the siblings’ relationship and I just wanted them to be okay!

This isn’t an easy book to read as it deals with child abuse and traumatic losses. It’s an exploration of how grief manifests and a study of a woman’s descend into madness. Unfortunately, the plot unravels towards the end where the line between what’s real and what’s supernatural becomes blurry. The odd things we’ve seen are not explained. I don’t mind vague endings but after the characters have gone through so much, I wish there’s a sense of closure. Don’t read this if you’re in a sad mood!
Was this review helpful?
Your opinion on Lisa Heathfield’s adult debut Such Pretty Things may well depend upon your expectations when starting the book. It features some elements of a traditional horror novel, but there are no ghosts except within the imaginations of the characters, so the comparisons in the blurbs to the classics The Haunting of Hill House and Turn of the Screw are slightly over-egged. Other more realistic contemporary comparisons might be CJ Tudor’s The Chalk Man or Alex North’s The Whisper Man which both dance around ambiguity. Even though it does have elements of the Gothic, Such Pretty Things is a powerful and complex character study of grief, loss and isolation. But if you are after a good scare look elsewhere, however, this remains a thoughtful and convincing read, which is a promising adult debut. 

Heathfield has previously authored four YA novels, so it is no surprise that the main character in Such Pretty Things is a fourteen-year-old girl. Clara has been sent, along with her younger brother Stephen, to live with an aunt and her husband they have never met, who reside in an isolated part of Scotland. There has been a tragedy in the family, with her mother seriously injured and in hospital, their struggling father has sent them to live (temporarily) with their aunt, dropping them off in the novel’s opening sequence. One of the most successful aspects of the novel is the level of personal grief which bubbles below the surface, Clara, who has to mother her eight-year-old brother whilst trying to be the grown-up one, has nobody to lean on herself or talk to, except her strange aunt.

Such Pretty Things was supposed to be set in Scotland, but apart from the use of the word ‘loch’ there was nothing to distinguish it from anywhere else in the UK and I do not believe the most was made of the remote setting. Children are known for exploring, but apart from one occasion when they visit a nearby loch, they barely make it beyond the expansive garden. By way of comparison, Francine Toon’s Pine (2020) was an excellent example of a recent supernatural novel which made 110% of its rugged Scottish location, an aspect this story lacked. The early stages helped build atmosphere as the children explored the interiors of the musty house, in the opening sections there were clever references to the many little dolls, which seemed to change locations, but if you are expecting something of the ilk of Adam Nevill’s House of Small Shadows (2013) you are going to be disappointed. The early promise of a supernatural tale or ghost story quickly petered out and this might disappoint some readers, but fans of the psychological have much to look forward to.

Smaller parts of the story jump to ‘Aunty’, which are italicised, although it was interesting to have this other perspective, it also provided spoilers into what lay ahead. Even though there was a certain amount of ambiguity, the way the plot developed contained little in the way of surprises or twists. The reader knows from the outset there is something odd about the aunt and all these sections do is blatantly spell it out for the reader, whilst Clara struggles to cope. This might work in a YA novel, which the author specialises it, but for an adult reader this was telegraphed. Connected to this, the aunt makes it clear early in proceedings what ‘Uncle’ Warren does not want them in the house and although he is rarely sighted, it put the kids on edge. This aspect of the story was also very obvious, but the italicised Aunty sequences made it even more easy to figure out.

The core of the novel and one of the stronger aspects of Such Pretty Things was the dynamics between the three key characters and how they evolve dramatically as things move on. Right from the off it’s clear the Aunt is an odd fish, maybe too obviously so, but it was interesting seeing the power shift via a few key, but very subtle, scenes. When a novel, such as this, has so few characters the interactions need to be spot on and it was reminiscent of Susan Hill’s I’m the King of the Castle which also played out entirely in a remote house with only two principal characters.  At times Clara and Stephen deliberately antagonise their aunt by rejecting her food and instantly pick up on her agitation and on other occasions Clara feels that Stephen shows too much affection for the aunt and feels jealousy which changes the dynamics of the three-way relationship. This begins to boil deliciously as the aunt gives the children old-fashioned home-made clothes which Stephen accepts without question, but Clara rejects, leading to more friction which quickly escalates.

Even though Clara was an interesting main character there were times when she was both unlikable and annoying. The story was set in the 1950s, when food was in short supply, so I was surprised to see children continually stick their noses up at food and be such fussy eaters. Also, they made mistake after mistake, such as stupidly walking through the vegetable patch and other stuff which came across as either obnoxious or grateful and I was not surprised the aunt started to get spiky. 

Such Pretty Things is a slow burner and although it lacked chills was a solid read about the trials of children, abandoned by their family, trying to negotiate the complexities of a very damaged adult world. This was a very melancholic reading experience and although there was a certain ambiguity to some of the story, my interpretation of the ending was rather shocking. The number of authors who can convincingly write both YA and adult fiction are few and far between and although Heathfield has previously written very dark fiction which tackles cults and dystopias she has not written a YA horror novel and continues this trend with this adult debut, which is a very dark thriller, with a taste of horror.
Was this review helpful?
Meeting a relation for the first time is a strange experience as a child. This stranger is supposed to be someone we must respect and like because we are related to them. Sometimes we may find them so annoying you’d like to avoid but the old saying blood thicker than water means we cannot quite get away from them. In the dark thriller Pretty Such Things Lisa Heathfield tells the story of two siblings visiting their aunt and uncle finding life under their rook strange and increasingly unsettling.

In the 1950s Clara and Stephen are being taken to stay with their mother’s sister who they have never met before. Their mother is in hospital and their father seems not to be able to cope. Auntie lives in a remote part of the country with no one near but the house she shares with Uncle Warren is immaculate. Auntie is on edge and it becomes clear she is not used to children not always doing what they’re told; Stephen the youngest child is prone to tantrums and has difficulty following rules while Clara who is on the cusp of being a teenager is now finding after several months allowing someone else to act as a parent very difficult. This sets in motion an increasing battle between Auntie and Clara for control and independence and Auntie is refusing to take no for an answer.

I was quite disappointed with this story after quite a strong opening few scenes. A mystery is well set up as we see inside Clara’s and Auntie’s heads and see each one’s perspectives. The silent house that is perfect and clean feels strangely oppressive with watching dolls and I liked Clara as a child starting to see life as an adult and realising just because someone is an adult you don’t have to trust or obey them. Unfortunately, the story for a novel quickly runs out of steam. We get stuck in a cycle of child rebellion and punishment that should be building up the tension towards a powerful climax but instead the signposting of what is going on with the aunt and uncle is fairly obvious and pays tribute to some very old ideas. For a novel length I’d had loved a lot more depth of character and certain things we find out are just shouted out in small lines rather than fully explored.

This would have made a great and disturbing short story but for me there was not enough substance to sustain the plot and I found the characters very thinly drawn. I can see lots of things that may have influenced the tale, but I would have loved to see something new for itself in there. Sadly not a tale that worked for me.
Was this review helpful?
This review will go live at the link below on 11 May:

Hi and welcome to my review of Such Pretty Things!

As soon as I saw this cover I knew I had to read this book! Creepy dolls, a creepy Gothic house? Yes please! Did the content live up to the expectations the cover had created? Well, uhm, sort of?

Fourteen-year-old Clara and her little brother Stephen are going to live with their Auntie and Uncle for a little while, as their mum is in hospital, and will remain there for the foreseeable future, and their dad can’t cope on his own. Auntie is thrilled at their arrival, but the kids, especially Clara, less so. The house is huge, it smells funny, there are weird dolls and a somewhat lifelike boy made out of leather, and their uncle is nowhere to be seen, although his presence is palpable. 

Such Pretty Things kicks off with a deliciously Gothic vibe and I felt myself drawn in. The writing is vivid and allowed me to picture the dark house perfectly, its smell, Auntie’s fragile balance, overeager and easily disappointed and just a tad off. Such Pretty Things is very atmospheric, but the atmosphere is a bit weird, a bit off, and really rather unsettling. It’s very hard to explain but it really did a number on me and my mood, I actually felt a bit off and quite unsettled myself. In that way, reading Such Pretty Things was quite an experience.

The story is bloody hard to define, and honestly? It’s a bit weird. But it did work for me. I was settling in for a horror story, I did not expect a drama. I expected ghosts, and, come to think of it, I think that’s what I got, just not in the way I thought they would present themselves. Vague, huh? All I can say is that this is not your average horror story, for me it read more like drama with hints of domestic thriller laced with horror.

If you’re in the market for in-your-face horror, gory or explicit or five ghosts or monsters a minute jumping up at you from the shadows, I’d advise you to look elsewhere cos you sure won’t find that here. However, if creepy houses, unsettling atmospheres and aunts that might be a little mad are your bag, this is the one for you. If you go in with that mindset, open-minded and open-hearted, Such Pretty Things may very well crawl under your skin, like it did mine, and be very, very tough to get rid of. Recommended, if you dare.

Such Pretty Things is out now in digital formats, audio and paperback.

Huge thanks to Titan Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are still my own.
Was this review helpful?
Hello Bookish friends 💗 Hope you’re all on a book reading roll and enjoying the spring sunshine… We’ve got a corker for you today!

Firstly – just how creepy is this book cover? There’s something about dolls isn’t there? Almost like clowns for sending the fear of god into you!! We love this cover and having shared it with our booksta friends – realise just how much it intrigued people! So we are here to share our • spoiler free • review…

Within the book there are so elements that make the perfect recipe for a tale woven with horror- Creepy dolls, quiet, isolated houses, dead children, unmarked graves, an unstable relative and so much more….

But let’s tell you a little more about the story…

When Clara and Stephens mother is fatally injured in a fire their struggling father takes them to stay with their maternal aunt at her childhood home so he can work while they are well looked after …

On the surface it looks as though they will be kept safe and loved within the idyllic country home, “ Auntie” seems so enamoured with the children and excited to have them to stay.. almost too enamoured and too excited!

Something feels off.

So it’s no surprise when very we quickly realise that “ auntie” is haunted by her lost children having miscarried five children, it becomes clear she desperately wants/ needs to mother these children but finds their is a gaping chasm between the daydream of parenting and the nitty gritty of the day to day of childcare, she has an ideal image and likes life to be neat, ordered and perfect, and struggles with the reality of messy, noisy “ real” children who at times lack manners, won’t eat the food she lovingly prepares or wear the clothes she painstakingly sews for them.

As the story progresses the atmosphere descends into weirdness and the whole tone of the book has us shifting in our seats with unease. We never meet the elusive uncle, we are told he is happy with their presence at the house, there are vague mentions of him, he always seems to be just beyond reach… Which had alarm bells ringing and made us feel this was something else that wasn’t quite right.

This story has a distinct gothic undertones, it’s dark and atmospheric with hints of ghosts, repression and abuse. There are so many threads woven into this story that add a darkness, leaving the reader feeling uncomfortable as the author explores the effects of grief and how it manifests..

At first the children are well cared for but it doesn’t take much to displease “ auntie” whose mood swings suddenly from radiating happiness to dark and disappointed at the smallest displeasure. As a teenager Clara is more rebellious than her younger sibling and as she becomes more unhappy and uncomfortable, but unable to communicate the grief of missing her mother and her dismay at their situation she becomes upset and at times rebellious and destructive… here is where things become sad and heartbreaking. As the destabilised auntie becomes more sinister , the two confused and grieving children are manipulated and played off against each other, punishments are meted out to both , food is withheld, they are locked in their room and not allowed out even to use the toilet. The more “ auntie “ gets lost in her own grief, loss and heartbreak the more she forgets the children, leaving them alone and unfed for days at a time. Showing the most affection toward her, the little boy emerges as the favourite, he is then taken downstairs where he runs free and plays under the adoring eye of “ auntie” while Clara is neglected, left locked away and for long periods without food. It’s quite a difficult read and yet we read on and on desperate to find out what happens, as the children find themselves in an increasingly threatening situation.

Alongside the tense atmosphere, a sense of claustrophobia heightened by the fact it’s the 1950’s and entertainment and communication is very limited, there is also a sense that there is something very off and the feeling of worry at what these children are being subjected to.

There is no sign of any contact from their father and as time passes in this strange house with its ghosts of the past things reach a chilling, sad and shocking climax. One reviewer likened “ auntie” to the other mother from Coraline and I have to say that the comparison is perfect!!! The sense that she is broken and her behaviour is alarming to a child is conveyed perfectly- This story is superbly written, we absolutely loved this authors style of writing and her descriptions are bold and poetic. Her characters are vividly drawn and the relationships between them so very well depicted. There is so much to this tale but we don’t want to go into too much detail as it’s best like us to go in really quite blind and just absorb the tale as you read for maximum enjoyment .

In the end it feels as if a lot goes unsaid, but sometimes what is left unsaid is as powerful as what is … the author tells us just enough for us to draw our own devastating conclusions.

Dark, haunting and creepy this gothic tale of grief and loss is utterly chilling, as things unravel Heathfields ability to create a sinister vibe and an increasingly unstable situation is evidence of her skill as a writer… It’s a book that will stay with you, we are still thinking of the children, still unthreading the plot and still reeling from it days later.

We would highly recommend this to feeling thriller/ horror fans who have more of a strong stomach for the genre as this isn’t a vapid, run of the mill thriller this isn’t for the faint hearted… it’s fairly traumatic!

We found such pretty things highly entertaining and would rate it 4.5 ⭐️ Thankyou so much to Titan Books and Netgalley for our advanced copy.
Was this review helpful?
3 of 5 stars
https://lynns-books.com/2021/04/13/su...
My Five Word TL:DR Review : Dark Depiction of Overwhelming Grief

Such Pretty Things is a slowly unfolding horror story that speaks more of dealing with grief and the dark thoughts that haunt a person after suffering loss than the actual physical manifestation of ghosts. As the story begins, two children, Clara and Stephen, are being taken to their aunt and uncle’s house to be cared for. Their mother has suffered a terrible accident and their father is unable to cope with work and all the other responsibilities and so has asked the family to step in for a short while.

The children are dropped off and, after their father almost breaks his neck rushing to get out of the place, the strangeness of the situation really starts to set in. The children have never met their aunt and uncle before. They live in a large remote house, the family home in fact, kept in absolutely pristine condition by their aunt who seems a little obsessive about rules and cleanliness. The two share a bedroom that has been set up like something from a fairytale with ribbons on the curtains and freshly sewn clothes hanging in the wardrobes. It’s a little too perfect and the children are unsure how to behave. Their aunt has many rules and although they don’t meet their uncle it’s clear that he is unhappy with the arrangement and his disapproval seems to hang over them all causing a feeling of dread.

Slowly but surely things begin to unravel. Their aunt may long to hear the patter of tiny feet but her daydreams bear little resemblance to the reality of actual looking after children. Particularly two children who are themselves coming to terms with the fact their mother may not survive. The two misbehave, they break things and cause a mess, they don’t eat properly, their manners leave something to be desired and they can be unintentionally cruel. The strain between the three is quite intense in the first few chapters. The children frequently sneak out, unsupervised, to explore the grounds and their aunt’s dwindling grip on control is stretched to breaking point. Then things begin to shift. Clara is a teenager and openly rebels against her aunt, refusing to wear plaits in her hair and pretty dresses with frills, as the two embark on a strange contest of wills Stephen’s loyalty begins to shift towards his aunt. He’s much younger than Clara and wants to feel the familiar embrace of adult care. His gradual shift only adds to the tension, Clara is jealous of his affection and their aunt feels empowered by the turn of events, inflicting more punishments on Clara until eventually the two siblings are split up on an almost continuous basis.

There really is a lot to like about this book. The writing and descriptions are fantastic. Heathfield’s ability to create a densely oppressive atmosphere and ever growing sense of dread is simply superb. I thought all the characters came across well and the setting with the large house and gardens really played into the sense of isolation lending credibility to the way of life depicted.

However, in spite of their being so much to love here, the large house and estate with plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered, the superb atmosphere that is almost suffocatingly tense and the clear unravelling of the aunt’s mental stability I found myself not as enamoured with the latter half of the book as the first and I’d love to pin down why that is.

I think in a nutshell there’s a slight over ambition taking place here or perhaps a cluttering of too many ideas. The start is just brilliant. It’s really well set up. You can feel the aunt slowly becoming more and more unstable and there are also a few indicators here and there about one of the children (though I won’t point out which one). But then, I felt like the plot became too convoluted. One of the aspects I’d already guessed at but for the final few chapters it felt like there was a bombardment of ideas taking place and, although I was still absolutely gripped, some of the reveals felt unnecessary, like the set up and the mental health issues that were clearly escalating out of control, were enough by themselves. I have to confess, although I didn’t particularly like the ending, I think it veered into too much horror for my liking, I admit that I couldn’t drag my eyes away. It was perfectly horrible.

I certainly didn’t dislike Such Pretty Things but I think it reminded me less of Shirley Jackson’s Haunting of Hill House and more of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. The aunt undoubtedly put me in mind of ‘the other mother’ and gave off a sinister vibe, at first sugar coated with perfection but slowly revealing a dreadful instability that pushed her to dark extremes. I certainly wouldn’t discourage others from reading this, it’s very easy to read and I will undoubtedly look out for more work by this author. I think it was maybe a little too much ‘horror’ for me and I didn’t love all the eventual reveals but that could very easily be an ‘it’s me not you’ type of occurence.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks. The above is my own opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Such Pretty Things tells the story of two siblings, Clara and Stephen, who are taken to stay in a remote house with their aunt and uncle after their mother becomes hospitalised. Unable to juggle the responsibilities of a sick wife, work, and two children, their father decides that it's best for the two children to spend a few weeks in the country, even though they've never met their mothers sister before.

Straight away there's a sense that there's something wrong in the house as soon as they get there, though this seems to be down to the fact that their aunt is a woman that whilst clearly very loving is very much set in her ways, and doesn't know how to interact with children. And this becomes the primary focus of the book, Clara and Stephen butting heads with their aunt repeatedly.

The blurb for the book book describes it as a story about ghosts, and whilst I don't want to spoil too much about the book I have to tell people that it's not; or at least not in the way that I was expecting. I was waiting for things to start going bump in the night, for strange presences to make themselves known, and otherworldly visions to appear. The book has none of these, and there's never really any involvement with the supernatural in this book at all. Instead, the ghosts of the blurb are definitely referring to the ghosts of the aunt's past, and how her own experiences are haunting her.

The book isn't dealing with spirits or spectres, but is instead a character study about a lonely and troubled woman and the madness that lies within her, caused by years of grief and loss. I would say that the book shows her descent into madness, but looking back at everything it's quite clear that the aunt was never fully sane, and the small 'eccentricities' from the first time we meet her were hinting at bigger things to come. 

The horror of Such Pretty Things comes from people, it's horror that takes a look at the evil that people are capable of, even when they think that they're acting in a place of love. The book has some heavy themes of abuse and childhood trauma, and readers who have lived through an abusive childhood may find some of the events of the book upsetting; especially as the aunt unravels more and more over the course of events.

There are things that happen in Such Pretty Things that really put me on edge, and I found myself worried about the children more than once; and I kept urging Clara to try and do something, anything, to get out of the place. I wanted her to strike out, to physically fight back because I just somehow knew that things would get worse for them the longer they went on. I got really invested in these characters, and desperately wanted them to okay by the end.

I've not read any of Lisa Heathfield's other books before, but I'm aware that she normally writes in the Young Adult field, and that Such Pretty Things is her first foray into adult literature, and horror. For a first time writing in this field it's an impressively subtle horror. It's a book that doesn't rely on scares or the spooky to get under your skin, but instead relies on complex human characters to drive the horror. 

Such Pretty Things is a book that creeped me out a lot, one that made me uncomfortable in a lot of ways, and that kept me on the edge of my seat. A very subtle and complex horror story.
Was this review helpful?
Lisa Heathfield is an author I have previously read from and adored. Her previous publications resided in the YA contemporary genre, which isn't my usual go to and yet I was completely engaged with her emotional creations. This is, I believe, the author's first foray into both the horror genre and the sphere of adult writing. I found it a brilliantly complex and inventive novel and was pleased to find the same emotional intensity present here, as well.

Part of this emotion was brought to the reader through the storyline but mostly it was evoked through Heathfield's writing. Her characters, including how they moved and what they felt, were authentically summoned for the reader through turns of phrase and descriptions that really brought this book to life. For example, when describing fear, Heathfield depicts her characters as so:

"Clara tastes the strength of her heartbeat pressing into her throat, her tongue. Stephen is circle-eyed in the gloom."

My only desire for this novel is for the plot to have continued to mirror the early gloomy atmosphere. I found it a sinister read throughout but wanted more tension present in the scenes, to keep me reading at the edge of my seat. I wanted more shifting shadows, more bumps in the night, and more half-glimpsed at movements. Basically, I longed for the usual horrifying spectacles to occur, alongside the more nuanced psychological ones happening concurrently. The novel also seemed to end a little abruptly for me and I wanted a further exploration for the calamitous events, in the concluding quarter.

Despite this, I still enjoyed myself in this clever, little novel and still find this an author one I long to return to, whenever she has anything new to offer her eager readers.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this novel with its Gothic vibe, claustrophobic boundaries (Auntie's large house and gardens) and two engaging protagonists - the two children, one a young teen, Clara, and her younger brother, Stevie. After a horrific family tragedy they are packed off to stay with their unknown and unfamiliar Auntie. It's set in 1950's England - so no TV, no internet, no smartphones - children had to entertain themselves and play outside or with proper toys. or read or draw. This makes the children's isolation more powerful and scary. It's a novel with a tiny cast of characters, which works well, and is told from Clara's immature but heart-rending point of view as she struggles to deal with her mum's accident, her father's departure, Auntie's growing strangeness and controlling nature, their uncle's absence, and all the time she is trying to protect her little brother -but increasingly you start to wonder, perhaps it is kind, determined and loyal Clara who needs protecting - from forces inside and outside the house? The story raises questions such as how can you love too much? How much grief can eat away at a person, what is family (birth or adoption), can you make someone love you? and do you put yourself first or save your sibling? 
In the face of madness there are no easy answers and the ending is so painful I nearly cried.
Was this review helpful?
After an accident involving their mother, Cara and her brother Stephen are sent to live with their aunt and uncle. They’ve never met, and yet are thrust into the bosom of their mother’s childhood home. Things are different, and though each looks forward to the experience it soon becomes clear that things will not go as either side hoped.
A rather languid start sets up the oppressive atmosphere in the new home. Cara and Stephen are expected to follow their aunt’s rules. Though she desperately wants them, nothing prepares her for the reality of children. The noise, the capriciousness and the conflict from someone trying to assert their own will on a situation. They never meet their uncle, but his presence is felt through the rules enforced.
Cara fights their new reality. She becomes increasingly upset. Stephen, desperate for a mother’s love, is more willing to adapt his behaviour.
As the children adjust to their new home we are given details that indicate that their aunt is struggling with her mental health after suffering miscarriages/deaths of her five pregnancies.
After what seems like a long time, we start to see things unravel in spectacular fashion. Genuinely creepy at this point, and it would have been great to have seen this element introduced earlier/perhaps offering a little more background to their lives. By the time we’re privy to what’s happening, it’s too late to do anything other than look on in horror and wonder how such a thing could happen without anyone being alerted to the oddness of the situation.
Thanks to NetGalley for granting me access to this prior to publication.
Was this review helpful?
Such Pretty Things is a thriller of human drama with a weird tie-in horror elements that unfortunately fit awkwardly as they are only introduced into this mess without ever bearing fruit.
I really do like the premise of the book. The description provided by the publisher is of an enticing human drama.
Unfortunately, the author fails to build upon it. The beginning is so slow it continues up to about 60% into the book. None of the characters are relatable, not in their grief, nor sadness, loneliness, etc. They all act weirdly to the point of conversations making little to no sense, and the overall thought process of the main character Clara, whose point of view presents most of the book, read like a chat bot - tends to forget how she felt three sentences ago while still following the "same" train of thought and jumps into extraordinarily weird conclusions.
Then we get some kinda supernatural things thrown in, but not really, but kinda yes. It's infuriating, as the book swerves between "is it ghosts", "is it mental health", as it tries to prove both before it drives itself into a wall.
And then comes the conclusion, of one chapter which goes through more twists and turns than the whole book, running into the same issues all over again. And then we get the most confusing and overall bad ending of bad books I've had the stomach to finish, which sounded like the last 50 or so (given the length of ~179) pages were lost and rewritten into 5-10. There's no reward at the end, there's not one thing uncovered in the end, all the "mysteries" stay a mystery and it feels like the author has no idea what happened in her own story.
Don't get me wrong - a vague ending can be so good, if done well - for example, I wouldn't say any of Murakami's fiction books ever end with anything but vagueness, but the style is different and they are at least though provoking.

Overall, I would just not recommend this book at all. I really think the author should try again and actually work trough the story - the concept is so promising it's sad to see it wasted.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Titan Books for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.*
Was this review helpful?
Such pretty things by Lisa Heathfield. 
This was a very good read. Little slow but I read it.  I did think auntie was mad. I wasn't sure about the ending. 4*.
Was this review helpful?
An atmospheric masterpiece, I highly recommend this thriller.  The characters are realistic and the plot fast paced.
Was this review helpful?