Cover Image: The Secret Keeper’s Daughter

The Secret Keeper’s Daughter

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Member Reviews

Holly and Jordan Mayhew live in a little cottage by the sea along with their daughter, Marley who is a lively and chatty seven-year-old. Yet Marley has suddenly become sullen and anxious. Holly is desperate to get to the root cause of this sudden shift in her eldest child. Is Marley struggling to adjust to the birth of her new baby brother, or is there something more sinister going on?

A few readers have said the book confused them but I disagree and found it very easy to follow. This book is unique and engaging, with strong characters and plenty of twists, turns and shocks. It’s one that really surprised me, and I look forward to reading more of the author's books.

This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.

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I really enjoyed this book. This book was about Holly, shes got a perfect family. A husband that loves her, a daughter thats amazing and a baby boy. When her 7 year old daughter starts to act strangely her whole world starts to fall apart. Can she get to the bottom of it all before her life is ruined? I found this book very chilling, so many characters had secrets and you didnt know what was going to happen next. it really made me want to know what was going on/ there was a lot of different characters and it kept going forwards backwards in time. it had a great ending and I was kept quessing to the very end.
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Book Review: The Secret Keeper’s Daughter by Samantha King

Rating: ★★★

In Summary

Genre: Psychological thriller

Publication Date: 10th September 2021

No. Of Pages: 416

Keywords: Domestic, psychological, mystery, motherhood, family, childhood, secrecy, twisty, claustrophobic

Content Warnings: Reference to abortion, terminal illness, death of a loved one, suicide, adultery

Format: E-Book, Audiobook (released 17th September 2021), Paperback (released 30th December 2021)


When I read the first couple of chapters of The Secret Keeper’s Daughter, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it takes place in Thorpeness, an idyllic location I visited on holiday earlier in the year. This small seaside village makes for an atmospheric setting that adds to the novel’s sense of claustrophobia.

It took a while for me to get used to the second-person narrative, in which the narrator Holly addresses her young daughter, seeking to explain the events of the last seven days and the fallout of the secrets revealed.

This unusual narrative style certainly made for an unsettling atmosphere - in their naive perceptiveness, children always increase the creep factor! Plus the countdown over seven days to an unknown catastrophe makes for a slow, foreboding build-up of suspense.

Around the halfway point, the story became a lot pacier and the revelations just kept on coming! Before this acceleration, though, I found the book too slow for a thriller. 

When it comes to psychological thrillers, I want to be instantly gripped, thinking about it when I’m not reading it, feeling driven to pick it up again whenever I have a spare moment. The Secret Keeper’s Daughter lacked that spark of excitement for me in the early chapters.

The ending felt a little chaotic too. Several plotlines were built up to a tense climax only to fizzle out halfheartedly, which detracted from the ‘oomph’ of the big reveals.

Ultimately, it was the characters that kept me intrigued more than the plot, especially the relationship between sort-of sisters Holly and Amy. The author has mastered the art of tense dialogue, exploiting the layers of the unspoken that can lurk beneath our most everyday conservations.

The Round Up

Standout Quote: “The past lives inside of us. Like a cancer. Dormant. Possibly benign. Definitely incurable. We can’t get rid of it, even if we want to.”

Read If: You enjoy psychological thrillers that bring out the dark side of domesticity, family, and motherhood.

Similar Books: The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel, The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances and Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allan (check out Jasmine’s review here!).

Last Impressions: While The Secret Keeper’s Daughter may not have quite delivered the unrelenting plot that I look for in a thriller, I would definitely recommend it for those who like more character-driven narratives that slowly build tension and suspicion.

Written by Florence Edwards for CityGirl Magazine
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Samantha King rewards the reader with a stylish family drama ripe with drama, secrets and altering loyalties.

Holly and Jordan Mayhew live in a little cottage by the sea along with their daughter, Marley who is a lively and chatty seven-year-old. Yet Marley has suddenly become sullen and anxious. Holly is desperate to get to the root cause of this sudden shift in her eldest child. Is Marley struggling to adjust to the birth of her new baby brother, or is there something more sinister going on?

This is a slow burner about unravelling family secrets, both past and present, and the author does a wonderful job of building the characters while still maintaining the suspense. I was immediately consumed by this compelling tale and had a hard time putting the book down. The reader is taken down a meandering path of mystery as Holly tries to get through to her daughter whilst keeping her marriage afloat. The shifting dynamics meant I was unsure who could be trusted and many of the cast were of dubious nature. With dark and disquieting notes, The Secret Keeper’s Daughter is very highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from HQ via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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I read this book in a relatively short period of time. It did leave me wanting to come back for more each time. A well written story with many twists and turns which came together in the end, possibly a little too neatly? There were a few dark moments in the book and at times the main character was ever so slightly irritating. This will stay with you after reading which in my opinion is the sign of a good tale. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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Interesting and complex story.Secrets are at the heart of this story which started really well drawing me in but despite numerous twists and turns my interest began to flag.
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I have mixed feelings about this book, I enjoyed the beginning and was drawn into the storyline but by the end I just wanted to finish it. It seemed to lose its way a little and lost pace.
A story of a family with secrets, oh so many secrets, every member of the family was hiding something as well as issues with schoolfriends and neighbours. There were twists and turns and red herrings. The lost opportunities to speak out, tell the truth and ask questions were frustrating but presumably added to the story.
Some if the secrets/issues were intriguing and engaged the reader, others were less believable and left me with questions.
Overall an ok read with some good elements but maybe a few fewer secrets would have been better.
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I’ve always enjoyed Dinah’s novels and this one does not disappoint. It’s a brilliant story about three sisters and set in war time. I was on tender hooks wondering how they were going to fare amidst heart wrenching situations- it was written so well I felt I was there experiencing everything with them.
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Firstly a big thank you to the publishers for my copy to review on netgalley.

I raced through this eager to know the truth !

Thought provoking and moral questioning this is a fascinating read that has the reader hooked from start to finish . Who can be trusted and what’s got Marley so scared?

A insightful view of the family dynamics and how this flows from childhood to the adult years.

A dark and at times chilling book about the complexities of family.

Published 10th September
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What a fantastic thriller, it was engaging all through! So many secrets were revealed which really held my attention till end. Nice storyline!! Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this book and give a honest review.
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This is a story of families and how keeping secrets shapes them.
When Holly and Jordan's daughter Marley becomes withdrawn and won't tell them what's wrong, Holly makes a worry box so that Marley can write them down instead. As Marley leaves notes, Holly tries to work out the secrets she's keeping..
Interwoven is Holly's story. How Amy, the daughter of her dad's best friend, came to live with them.. Why does Amy seem to do wrong but letting Holly be blamed, and why does her dad always believe Amy over Holly?
During the current pandemic much has been spoken about child mental health and the need for children to be encouraged to recognise and express their feelings. This story explores how keeping secrets can have far reaching consequences.
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Holly has recently given birth to her 2nd child, when her eldest child begins to act out of character. Is she struggling with her new sibling, her mum’s Ill health or is there something more sinister going on?
Jordan, Holly’s husband doesn’t seem worried and feels Holly is making a mountain out of a molehill, however he’s also recently started sleeping on the sofa! What secrets is he keeping?
Desperate to find out what is upsetting her daughter she comes up with the idea of a worry box for Marley to post her worries in.
There are also secrets from the past that are making themselves known as the story evolves. Who can Holly trust?
Told in the present day and the past we learn just what has been going on in Holly’s life and exactly what is upsetting little Marley.
This was an interesting book and I enjoyed getting to know this little family. It was a little slow at times but I was keen to keep reading to find out all the secrets. I felt at times it was a little drawn out and just wanted to get to the conclusion, however that said I did enjoy it and am looking forward to finding more books from this new to me author. Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this title
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The story felt dragged and the ending felt... rushed. All the big reveal felt such a disappointment, that leading up to it - I felt I was let-down.

The characters were just.. confusing. You don't really know who they are and I just couldn't like them. Although the twists and many turns of this book made the lack of everything else.
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3.5 stars 

On the positive side, I read this is one day. There were parts that moved a bit slow, but I definitely wanted to know what was going on with Marley. The driving story in the present day—Holly trying to figure out why daughter Marley has become anxious and withdrawn by providing a “worry box” for Marley to put notes/drawings in—works really well. In addition to Marley seeming troubled, Holly is trying to figure out why her husband has become distant and her friend/sort-of-honorary-sister Amy is avoiding her calls. These sections are in second person, with Holly addressing Marley—that didn’t bother me but I know some readers find second person off putting.

I was somewhat less engaged with the storyline in the past, in which Holly tells the story of her childhood and how Amy unexpectedly came to stay with Holly’s family and the tension that caused between the two girls.

The story builds to secrets being revealed. I feel like one or two twists/reveals is plenty if they’re good, but this had a “bet you can’t eat just one” philosophy where secrets were exposed one by one and some of the suspense was artificial of the kind where the narrator has information that she is thinking about but doesn’t want to think clearly AT you yet because suspense. One twist, arguably the main one, was particularly unsurprising and I think seasoned readers of thrillers/domestic suspense will see it coming ages before it’s actually revealed. Other things I didn’t anticipate and was fine with as I read—not bowled over but satisfied—but in some cases, I do have some fridge logic issues. No one in a gossipy little town ever let <SECRET> slip? Characters didn’t know about <SECRET> that surely would have been in the news? Wouldn’t they have ever done a web search for <NOUN>? I do think the answer to the “what’s bothering Marley?” question comes together fairly well. 

So as far as domestic suspense, I enjoyed this. It’s pacing is a bit uneven and it’s probably not going to shock you, but it offers domestic drama with some mysterious elements. Most of it is probably not going to stick with me, but the setup of Marley and her worry box was an element that I liked and isn’t like anything I’ve read in this genre before.

I’m going to give a MINOR SPOILER and reveal something that DOESN’T happen. Early in the book, Marley’s behavior/fears seems like they could be consistent with child abuse, possibly child sexual abuse. I felt wary wondering if it would go in that direction. Fortunately, that is NOT the case.
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Wow what an emotional rollercoaster of a read. This is all about family and how we sometimes misinterpret things we see and hear. Holly is worried about her relationship with her husband and also her normally chatty out going daughter is withdrawn. Holly decides to give her daughter a worry box but what do her worries mean for the family. This is a gripping read with lots of twists and turns along the way.
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When Holly's Daughter Marley becomes withdrawn and hardly speaks Holly has the idea of a worry box for Marley to write little notes in. Little find she guess that she would be fearful of her life and distrust everyone close to her.
This was an ok read, there were lots of red herrings pulling the reader in different directions as to what the reveal could be.
Many thanks to Netgalley and HQ Digital for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review
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Thank you NetGalley for this ARC.  This book started off strong but honestly did not hold my attention and then half way through I just kept skipping sections of too much narrative and dialogue.  It had a good premise but too many red herrings that were in my opinion not necessary.
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Wow, what an awesome book, I didn’t want it to end it was so good. It held me right from the beginning and I couldn’t stop reading it. I read in a day as it was so good but, a the same time I didn’t want to finish it. I wish I could give it more stars than five but, five will have to do. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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What an absolutely twisted thriller which kept me guessing by revealing more and more secrets! 

The chapters are written from Holly’s point of view from her childhood, the present day and a week before the present day. This makes the story flow really well, slowly letting the reader understand Holly’s family life as each chapter unravels. . 

Holly appears to have the perfect marriage to Jordan but she hasn’t had an easy life. She was born with a hole in her heart so her parents were very protective of her. 

Holly and Jordan have 2 children. Marley, who is 7 and baby BB. Marley, who is usually very talkative, suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn so Holly suggests a worry box. Marley can then convey how she is feeling by words or pictures. When Holly sees these notes and drawings she becomes increasingly worried about being kept in the dark about things. It appears everyone is not telling the truth and secrets are being kept! Does Marley have a vivid imagination or is there some truth in her words? 

This story begs the question of whether it is best to keep a secret forever or should you always tell the truth, even if it hurts someone or destroys a relationship? 

For me, this was a brilliant read. It wasn’t fast paced but it still kept me page turning as I needed to know where the plot was going. Family drama at its best!

Many thanks to netgalley, the publishers and the author for an arc.
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I loved this book; it surprised me, how can secrets change a person and the way they act. I think this is a twisted and very well plotted book, some surprises are waiting for you!
This book is told between two different lines; the present and 7 days before, where Holly Mayhew is feeling that her daughter is hiding something from her. What could it be? Simply children’s imagination or something more dark?
Holly’s life has never been easy, she has a hole in her heart and always her family tried to keep her safe; some secrets and white lies that thought make her life easier. Now, everything will go out, and her life will change forever, for good or for bad? You’ll have to read the book if you want to know more!
I really couldn’t stop reading this book, how the author, Samantha King, created this psychological thriller, making you distrust of anyone in the story. Fearing for Holly and her daughter’s life all the time, and this is what moves the book; the pain, the fear and the doubt that everyone around them could be dangerous.
This is not the first book I’ve read lately about how secrets can be like an illness, it weights you down until the truth comes out or you die with it…
Believe me, if you are looking for an addictive and twisted read, this is amazing, believe me!
Are you ready for “The Secret Keeper’s Daughter”?
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