When They Find Her

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Pub Date 13 May 2021 | Archive Date 19 Jan 2022

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The first chapter is so shocking your jaw will drop.
The last is so emotional you'll never forget it.

'I'll be recommending it to everyone I know' SARAH PEARSE, author of The Sanatorium
'Flawlessly written, twisty and nerve-wracking' 5***** READER REVIEW
'A stand-out psychological thriller with heart' ASHLEY AUDRAIN, author of The Push
'Absolutely phenomenal' 5***** READER REVIEW


But three years ago, her husband left, taking their child with him.

Now, her daughter has come to stay, and Naomi knows it's her one chance to re-build her family.

But the night ends in a terrible accident.

And Naomi has no memory of what happened.

Panicking, desperate, Naomi finds herself telling a lie:

'My daughter is missing.'


'Superb. Utterly gripping' WILL DEAN, author of The Last Thing to Burn
'Truly the stuff of nightmares. Couldn't put it down' CATHERINE COOPER, bestselling author of The Chalet
'A tense and claustrophobic rollercoaster' NINA MANNING
'Had me turning pages into the early hours. Truly superb' KATIE LOWE
'Powerful . . . a promising debut from a new voice' DAILY MAIL


'This book was one I was excited to read and it didn't disappoint . . . the story was excellent' 5***** READER REVIEW
'As clever and compelling as it is gripping' 5***** READER REVIEW
'Nail-biting suspense throughout' 5***** READER REVIEW

The first chapter is so shocking your jaw will drop.
The last is so emotional you'll never forget it.

'I'll be recommending it to...

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ISBN 9780241486207
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Featured Reviews

When They Find Her is the gripping debut by Lia Middleton. When Naomi’s daughter comes to stay, she wants nothing more than to re-build her family but following a tragic accident, Naomi tells a lie that she can never take back.

This is a thriller that grabs you and holds you there until the very last page. Fast paced and skilfully written, with a twist that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Middleton doesn’t shy away from some of the most complex of human emotions, but hits them head on. Unimaginable grief. Postnatal depression. Betrayal. These are all handled with the utmost care, giving not only a fast paced thrilled but an emotional and compassionate read that does not in any way detract from the nail biting suspense.

When They Find Her is unputdownable, from the first page to the last. Thank you for my advanced copy.

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Lia MIddleton delivers an unputdownable thriller with her debut, When They Find Her. This is a bold novel that starts quickly with an unimaginable horror befalling the protagonist, Naomi, and doesn't let up the pace until the last page. When Naomi lies about what happened when her daughter came to stay, she sets off a chain of events she has little control over, and the reader gets to see the fall out of that lie. If this were the plot itself, it would have been a satisfying read, but Middleton skilfully uses flashbacks and Naomi's own doubt about what actually happened to keep the reader guessing at the truth, leading to a genuinely shocking twist.

Middleton's real triumph in this fast=paced novel is her ability to appal the reader with Naomi's questionable actions while simultaneously creating great sympathy for her. Amid the bustle of a police investigation, Middleton provides enough private moments for Naomi to reveal the depths of grief and the pained reasoning behind her actions. The gradual use of flashback builds a picture of not a terrible woman but a pained one. By the end of the novel, despite her actions, Naomi elicits great compassion and the emotional pay-off to the story is just as accomplished as the nail-biting suspense throughout.

When They Find Her has the hallmarks of a huge hit and deserves to be so. Thank you for the advanced copy.

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Lia Middleton has certainly hit the spot with her chilling debut. Not only does it draw you in with its shocking opening, but it keeps you there through every pacy chapter.

When Naomi is allowed to have her daughter to stay overnight she is thrilled, All she wants is for them to be the family they were before. But after a shocking accident and one terrible decision, Naomi finds herself in the middle of a police investigation.

As the story unfolds, you begin to really understand Naomi and her true motivations. It is quite an achievement to have a reader feel compassion for what seems like a truly flawed character, but the author does this brilliantly. Middleton deals with the full gamut of emotions, while managing to keep the reader hooked in the suspenseful and twisting storyline.

When They Find Her is as clever and compelling as it is gripping. Thank you for my advanced copy.

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It’s no surprise that fiction, the epitome of creative deceit, should have a love affair with lies as its subject matter. Some authors make a career of it, populating their books with various iterations of unreliable narrators, outright scammers and those with murderous intent behind their pretences. We love the vicarious thrill of seeing these characters get their comeuppance and sometimes, albeit rarely, their triumph, because, in the end, thrillers are essentially morality tales which appeal to our need to set the world to rights and re-establish the illusion of a status quo.

In the better examples of this type, however, these lines are blurred and the reader withheld from the binary satisfaction of black and white or good and evil. Instead, we are left with something which much more realistically reflects life in all its messy nuances. Lia Middleton’s debut, When they Find Her, is one such book: a novel in which there are no real villains and, more interestingly, no real heroes.

The lie of its central conceit comes early on, when Naomi, a young mother who has endured a reluctant and unhappy divorce with ex-husband Aidan, is begrudgingly granted access to their daughter Freya for a single and unsupervised overnight stay. The terrible conclusion of that night - at the end of chapter 1 - provides the momentum for the rest of the novel, and a good two thirds of the book focuses on these consequences in present time whilst also injecting flashbacks which build an emerging and increasingly blurred portrait of Naomi, Aidan and their intimate circle of friends. As a result, the reader is continuously encouraged to shift their own perception of events.

This is a clever thematic device, for as much as it reminds us of the non-binary nature of morality, so too does it illuminate the slippery quality of truth itself, a fact nicely referenced in the frequent allusions to Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. For Naomi, we discover, mistrusts herself as much as others appear to. It’s impossible to be clearer on the reasons behind this without spoilers, but, suffice to say, there are issues here which are poised to ignite the most awful of events to their most extreme degree.

Crucibles are the life-blood of this genre: the environment, setting and context that bonds as well as destroys, and families are one of the most volatile. What is both brilliant and ultimately tragic in Middleton’s tale is the portrait of a marriage dissolved not through lack of love, but lack of understanding, a fault which lies with neither party as much as both of them. The choices we make and the things we choose to say and not to say, though often motivated by good intentions, can often be the unkindest decisions of all and it is in this complex moral compass that the story’s power resides.

Elsewhere in the novel, Middleton handles the tropes of her genre - misdirection, tension, and the ticking clock which prompts increasingly desperate and impulsive decisions - with ease, although her concentration on inner character sometimes causes the pace to lag in the second act. This is not a fault so much as a caveat to those expecting the break-neck speed of others in the convention, and is more than made up for in the third act of the book which ramps up both the jeopardy and the reader’s desire for the reveal at a nerve-biting rate. Of particular note are the elements of police procedural throughout the novel which - given the author’s profession as a barrister - are unsurprisingly authentic in their detail.

Middleton writes with assuredness and clarity, setting out the stall of her characters and their inner lives with unapologetically simple prose; the initially curious lack of a larger world ultimately contributing to the feeling of claustrophobia and psychological realism. At several points of the novel I was reminded of Nikki Smith’s equally compelling debut, All In Her Head, and whilst Smith’s narrative exploration is less nuanced and more viscerally terrifying, both these authors tackle their extremely difficult subject matter with huge sensitivity and empathy.

Above all, this is a book to spark discussion; the most impressive and highest aim of an author, irrespective of the moral conclusions we reach. A highly recommended read.

My sincere thanks to the author, and for her editor Clio Cornish at Michael Joseph for the ARC in return for an unbiased review.

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The morning Naomi Williams tells a lie, her life spins out of control.

In truth, Naomi lost control of her life some years before. When They Find Her examines both the consequences of Naomi's lie and the reasons for the unhappiness and confusion that led to it.

Lia Middleton's pacy psychological thriller explores motherhood, alienation, mental health and addiction, cleverly wrapped up in a race-to-the-finish whodunnit. The Alice in Wonderland allusions echo Naomi's fragile grasp on reality and called to mind Grace Slick's hallucinogenic song, White Rabbit, as well as the Lewis Carroll classic.

The twists and turns in the plot make When They Find Her a real page-turner. I do so love it when I half-guess a reveal a few moments before it's confirmed! I'd have liked to have seen a bit less of Naomi's internal monologue and a bit more of some of the secondary characters - Detective Jenning and put-upon Rupert spring to mind - but perhaps that would have slowed down the action.

Unsurprisingly, Lia Middleton's background as a barrister brings authenticity to the interrogation and court-room scenes. The back and forth of the dialogue had an urgency that ramped up the tension as we discovered who exactly was lying to who.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if When They Find Her is a huge hit next summer! Thanks for my advance copy.

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Thank you NetGalley for this advanced copy. WOW. This is a great book! It starts off with a big holy cow and continues to have more throughout the story. Good suspense along the way as to what really happened that night. Total jaw dropping ending I did not see coming in more ways than one.

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Naomi wakes in the morning to find her daughter Freya dead at the bottom of the stairs. What she does next turns her life into a nightmare.
Being a mother I find it hard to read anything about children getting hurt but this story is so well written that it made me keep turning the pages.
Naomi is divorced from her husband Aiden , he has remarried and has custody of their daughter . This is the first time Freya has stayed overnight with her mum.
I thought I had worked out what had happened but I was wrong.
The writer covers difficult topics such as post natal depression, anxiety and addiction very sensitively.and skill fully.
4.5 stars ⭐️
Thanks to #Penguin and #Netgalley for allowing me to read this book in return for a fair review.
Highly recommended.

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I was so hooked by this book, it was like a moreish packet of biscuits that I couldn’t help but devour. I kept a good degree of intrigue whilst giving you just enough to keep you hooked. I read it all in one day and will keep an eye out for more from this author in future!

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#WhenTheyFindHer #NetGalley
A good read.
But three years ago, her husband left, taking their child with him.Now, her daughter has come to stay, and Naomi knows it's her one chance to re-build her family. But the night ends in a terrible accident. And Naomi tells a lie she can never take back:
I was hooked while reading it.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK Michael Joseph for giving me an advanced copy of this book.

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When something terrible happens, Naomis first instinct is self preservation but her lie ends up bigger and bigger. What should she do? And what should she tell the police?

The pain radiates from the pages and this is a difficult story to read based on the emotions involved but it’s remarkable! I wish all books were this fast paced and explosive!

Naomi is a brilliant character! You want to dislike her but there’s this spark and drive that means you can’t help but fall in love with her. She’s a mess but she’s trying! I liked seeing a relatable real character as the last book I finished had none!

Racing towards the conclusion this is a story that leaves you reading late into the night. (I had to finish it before bed or wouldn’t be able to sleep!!)


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Loved the twists and turns and really felt for Naomi's character. The writing was brilliant and every chapter felt really tense and I couldn't wait to find out what happened,

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A great start to the book but I thought it was slow moving till the unexpected twist at the end.

After losing custody of her 4yr old daughter, Naomi finally gets her daughter to stay the night, then the next morning she finds her dead at the bottom of the stairs, Naomi panics and doesn`t want to loose her daughter so hide`s her dead body in a hidden bunker in the woods on her farm. She then tells the police she has gone missing, with everyone out hunting for her, the lies go deeper and she can`t get out of it.
It has lots of flashbacks to Naomi`s past has lots of twists and a good twist at the end.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review

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What an incredible debut. I literally held my breath throughout this whole story. The author has the ability to leave you on tenterhooks throughout, only giving small bits of information. Brilliant. Highly recommended xx

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What an amazing thriller! A lie told by a desperate mother’s sets in motion a rollercoaster of events that no one could predict.

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Absolutely devoured this dark twisty thriller. Kept me guessing until the end. Fantastic characterisation.

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A very satisfying thriller, surprisingly original - by which I mean, there are some original ideas sitting quietly amongst thriller staples (unreliable narrators, undependable exes, isolated locations, traumatic pasts etc). It's also nicely spooky, an element I don't always enjoy.

The pacing is very consistent, the writing nothing special, but doing the job. It's a highly believable narrative which unravels from a completely unbelievable inciting incident - an impressive trick to pull off. I expect this will do very well this year.

My thanks to Michael Joseph and NetGalley for the ARC.

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When They Find Her is a tense thriller about every parent’s worst nightmare. The story begins with Naomi welcoming her four-year-old daughter to her house for an overnight stay. Her ex-husband Aidan has taken a long time to agree to this visit and Naomi is desperate for things to go well. But when the night ends in a terrible accident, Naomi tells a lie: she reports her daughter missing. As the situation escalates and police and journalists arrive, Naomi realises that she’s created a situation she cannot escape. The worst part about it is that she has no memory of what really happened that night.

One of the strengths of this novel is its portrayal of complex, flawed characters. Naomi has an interesting backstory which shows the reader how her life began to unravel well before the events of the first chapter. I found myself wishing that the book had featured more of some of the minor characters, especially Naomi’s new boyfriend Rupert, but perhaps this would have slowed down the pacy narrative. I particularly liked the portrayal of the tense relationship between Naomi and Aidan’s new wife, Helen.

There were some twists and reversals throughout the story which, thanks to the skilful plotting, felt fresh and interesting. This novel kept me gripped and I finished it quickly. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen to Naomi when the consequences of her lie caught up with her. I had a number of theories in my head about what had happened, from the most left-field possibilities to the most obvious and the events still kept me guessing until the end. This is an exciting debut thriller and I look forward to reading more from Lia Middleton.

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Well! I have no idea where to begin with this absolute masterpiece of a book! This is definitely a must read that should be on everyone's TBR. 
This is a novel which is filled with tension and suspense from the very beginning. I have literally been pulled into this book and unable to put it down. 
This is a completely addictive and unpredictable book which has kept me on the edge of my seat. I have loved the characters and the author has clearly shown the tension and resentment between each of the characters. 
This is a book which has a storyline unique to anything I've read previously. There is no way I could've predicted the events or outcomes of this book. I have been completely converted as a fan of this author following this book. I am so excited to see what else the author has in store for us as readers. 
I have literally loved everything about this book. It is a great read, filled with intrigue and suspense. This is a book worthy of all the stars.

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This is very well written for a debut novel. One lie starts off a spiral of events to keep the reader guessing until the very end. This is a book I would definitely recommend

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I liked this one, Had a very well written plot and kept me engrossed from page one, the characters were well thought out and relatable, I didn’t guess the twist, and was reading well into the night. Can't wait to see what the author brings out next, would recommend for sure.

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Naomi’s husband left her and took their daughter. Now Naomi is to have the first sleep over since then with her 4 year old, but there is a terrible accident and her daughter dies, then comes a terrible lie...Naomi reports her daughter as missing. Is there more to the death than an accident?

When They Find Her had some uncomfortable reading, however, it was a good story and I was riveted. I definitely was taken by surprise at the ending and it was pretty heartbreaking.

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What a brillaint debut novel from Lia I was hooked from the first page.

Naomi is divorced from Aiden who has full custody of their daughter, he is now married to her best friend Helen.

Aiden allows his ex wife to have their daughter Freya over night, when things take a turn for the worst, one lie spirals out of control.

This is a fast paced thriller which will keep you guessing and page turning right the end really enjoyable and highly recommended.

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This is a fabulous debut psychological thriller from Lia Middleton. The main character is Naomi who is divorced from Aidan but still loves him even though he’s hurts her in many ways since their separation. Aidan has custody of their young daughter Freya but begrudgingly agrees to Naomi having Freya to stay overnight.

There is a terrible event that night and the rest of the book is a real page turner as we wonder what is going to be unearthed next as lies after lies are told and past secrets become known. Naomi isn’t making many wise choices after this fateful night but the author writes in such a way that the reader is drawn to Naomi despite this. Lia Middleton does a good job of keeping the character of Naomi believable and engaging despite her poor choices. It’s a real roller coaster of a read which keeps the reader gripped wanting to know how it is all going to end.

Definitely an author to watch for future books.

With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I was totally hooked from the beginning. One lie was all it took for everything to spiral out of control. Naomi gets overnight access to her daughter. She's promised she off the tablets she been taking but when she wakes up her daughter is lying dead at the bottom of the stairs. She can't remember hearing her daughter wake up! So she hides her body!

I really enjoyed this storyline. It develops into quite the thriller and plays on your fears of being a mother. The story flowed really well and you got snippets from Naomi's past. Loved the ending and thought it was the perfect end to this tragic story. If you love suspense and mystery this is the perfect book for you. I loved it. One of the best debut novels I have read. If I could give it 10 stars, I would!

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What an incredibly gripping thriller! I was really busy but I HAD to carve out time to read to the end. Middleton does a great job at keeping the tension up and twisting the plot to create tension and doubts about the characters and the possible truth of what really happened. This is a five-stars reads for the lovers of the genre and a fantastic debut. Bravo!

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I’d like to thank Penguin UK, Michael Joseph and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read ‘When They Find Her’ by Lia Middleton in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

Naomi and Aiden are divorced, their four-year-old daughter Freya living with Aiden as he doesn’t trust Naomi to take care of her. Naomi persuades him to let Freya stay with her overnight but when she wakes the following morning Freya is lying at the bottom of the stairs dead. Naomi can’t remember what happened and scared that the police will believe she’s to blame she tells a lie that will have long-lasting repercussions.

Lia Middleton has written a fantastic debut novel that bodes well for her future writing. ‘When They Find Her’ has all the ingredients of a first-rate thriller, suspense, intrigue and drama, with twists and turns that have kept me on the edge of my seat unable to stop reading, needing to know whether Naomi has been telling lies or the truth. It has an ingenious and well-written plot and believable characters and the conclusion came as a big surprise. This is an excellent thriller that’s had me totally gripped from start to finish and I’m really looking forward to reading the author’s next novel.

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This is a really clever domestic thriller.
At first I could not believe the decision Naomi made and it annoyed me at the start of the book. As the story progresses I kind of understood why she lied but it still didn’t sit quite right with me.
I can’t say too much about what happens as it would be a huge spoiler but the story centres around Naomi and her ex husband, and something that happens one night.
The last part of the book really had me gripped and I loved how the truth was finally revealed.
This is a great book that I’d highly recommend.
Thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph UK and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.

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Woah this just blew my mind! You know there are going to be twists and shocks but never can you imagine what they turn out being. Right until the very last few pages you can’t be sure of what you think you know.

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This was fantastic!
After 50%, I wondered what other events would transpire but I would never have predicted the final twists!
Absolutely brilliant, I listened to the audiobook all day as I couldn't wait to get to the end. The plot was gripping and the character Naomi was a well thought out one. Whilst I didn't agree with some of the decisions she made, the writing was so effective that it also made me understand her reasoning and that those decisions were questionable.
The narrator was also brilliant, her accents for the police officers and supporting characters were so good!
This author and narrator are now on my watch list!
Thoroughly gripping, and highly recommended.

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Naomi lives alone on the family farm, but it wasn't always that way, she used to have a doting husband and a beautiful little girl, until one day she made a terrible mistake and lost everything, Aiden and Freya now live somewhere else with his new wife. Aiden has finally agreed that Freya can come to stay for the first time and Naomi is determined to make a good impression, but the visit ends in tragedy and Naomi does the only thing she thinks will stop her losing anything else, she lies, because telling the truth is so much worse...

When They Find Her is told from Naomi's perspective over the space of a week, with flashbacks to four years earlier, it focuses on the topics of mental health, anxiety, bereavement, betrayal and prescription drug addiction. The plot is so well crafted, you would never believe it's a debut for this talented author. She slowly dripfeeds the story, always holding back on what Naomi did to make Aiden take their daughter away. Then just as he's learning to trust her around Freya, she loses her all over again. Middleton created suspense throughout the book and kept the reader guessing, it's an intense read with an unexpected ending. This author is definitely one to watch and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

I'd like to thank Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for the approval, I will post my review on Goodreads now and Amazon on publication day.

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When They Find Her is a haunting, intensely powerful, emotional and nerve-shredding debut psychological thriller about a desperate mother, a tragic accident, and a terrible lie which spirals out of control. The prologue starts with Naomi and Aiden Williams watching their perfect newborn daughter, Freya Grace Williams, born on 16 August and weighing seven pounds two ounces, as she sleeps in Naomi’s arms. Having just been born in hospital they are about to head home with her for the first time. Strapped in and on their way, Naomi can't quite believe how lucky she is to have such a gorgeous family. But it isn't to last. Fast forward to four years later it's November and Naomi and Aiden are now divorced and he's living hours away from her along with Freya and his new wife in London. She lives alone in what used to be their cosy farmhouse and having lost a custody battle is having to fight tooth and nail just to get to see her little girl again. Finally, the day has come when he's open to the idea of Freya staying overnight with Naomi and she is so eager to see her daughter once more. She has to scrap for every little bit of time spent with her but she's worth every effort in her doting mother’s eyes. Aiden arrives at the farm to drop an excited Freya off and makes her promise that she is no longer taking ”the pills”. Even then Aiden is wary and is threatening to put a stop to it all and just take her back home, which would be really cruel, believing it to be a bad idea. But the long-awaited sleepover goes ahead.

Together mother and daughter play with bubbles, using almost an entire bottle of bubble bath, and read Alice in Wonderland in a cosy little book nook. Little does Freya know that she's soon to become a big sister as Naomi and her partner, Rupert, are pregnant. There's certainly no love lost between Aiden and Naomi now and he always comes across as arrogant and as though he has a superiority complex, which is a world away from the doting, ever-loving husband she had once known and adored. Naomi reads Freya a bedtime story and she falls soundly asleep. Getting ready for bed mum slips one of her usual turquoise coloured pills but soon she is sure she can hear high-pitched crying from inside the house. Or is it the drugs? She cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy, fact and fiction and has a feeling she might live to regret taking them, so she heads to bed to try to sleep off the effects, believing the cries to be merely auditory hallucinations, but are they? This is a compelling and absorbing domestic thriller that is fiendishly twisty and has huge visceral depth to it and character. I was moved from the beginning and this meditation on both the pressures and preciousness of motherhood ran through, and underpinned, the whole enthralling narrative. It's a deliciously dark, topical and utterly gripping read and is at once a white-knuckled page-turner and an emotional depiction of motherhood and mental health, it packs a real punch in terms of emotional resonance but also remains dramatic —not an easy balance to strike. Highly recommended.

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