*I received an arc via the publisher in return for an honest review*
The Winter’s Child by Cassandra Parkin
Five years ago, Susannah Harper’s son Joel went missing without trace. Bereft of her son and then of her husband, Susannah tries to accept that she may never know for certain what has happened to her lost loved ones. She has rebuilt her life around a simple selfless mission: to help others who, like her, must learn to live without hope.
But then, on the last night of Hull Fair, a fortune-teller makes an eerie prediction. She tells her that this Christmas Eve, Joel will finally come back to her.
As her carefully-constructed life begins to unravel, Susannah is drawn into a world of psychics and charlatans, half-truths and hauntings, friendships and betrayals, forcing her to confront the buried truths of her family’s past, where nothing and no one are quite as they seem.
A ghostly winter read with a modern gothic flavour. A tale of twisted love, family secrets and hauntings.
I knew reading this novel would be eerie for me, as my youngest son is also called Joel. However, even I could not be prepared for how eerie. The novel jumps between the respective years and so we see Joel at various stages of his childhood. The descriptions of Joel at 5yrs old, matched my son to a tee. All of a sudden I felt a huge feeling of unease. So much so that I decided to finish the novel that day and only did so, in the same room as my son!
Susannah Harper is the protagonist, she is a broken and damaged soul after the disappearance of her teenage son Joel. The disappearance occurred 5yrs ago, since then Susannah has started a blog about the dangers of psychics and how they target vulnerable individuals. The novel details her own accounts of incidents with psychics, including the one that finally pushed her husband to leave her.
The novel opens at Hull fair, where a Roma fortune teller informs her that on Christmas eve she will see her son’s face again. Susannah is at the fair with her sister Melanie and her niece and nephew. Joel disappeared one day, after leaving school at lunchtime and has never been seen since. The pain, grief and anguish of the mother is evident on every page. It feels so real and I began to be absorbed by her story.
But that is exactly what she had intended………..
“This will be the last Christmas eve you’ll see his face again” Psychic
Susanah’s blog entries are scattered throughout the novel. The make for fascinating reading. There are taunting and malicious comments from the ghouls and trolls of the internet world. Also details of her relationship with her son. They offer an insight into her most inner thoughts and show how she is barely coping under the strain. Through her blog she meets local mum Jackie whose son Ryan has also gone missing. A friendship forms and it is as bizarre as it is intense. The blog details the way psychics fool people and provides points for readers to take note of.
“They thrive off our belief, we’re what keep their profession alive” Susannah
As the plot unravel we learn more about Susannah’s marriage to John, Joel’s father. We also learn there was a strange family dynamic throughout Joel’s childhood. One of competitive loving and control. We learn that Joel was an unhappy and depressed teenager, struggling with life at every turn. The novel details the day of the disappearance. The police officers who worked the case DI Armstrong (Nick) and DC Wood.
“John always loved me the best, but the one I loved the best was Joel” Susannah
When Susannah begins to have visions of Joel, everywhere she goes. Her sister Melanie fears for her sanity and urges her to seek help. Instead Susannah finds comfort in the arms of married police officer Nick. The friendship with Jackie, is intensified when Susannah tricks her into visiting psychic James O’Brien. James offers cryptic clues and misinformation, then finally he has an announcement that left me gobsmacked………..
The visions increase as Christmas approaches and I really feared for Susannah, she is a vulnerable woman, with so many untrustworthy people surrounding her.
Susannah is desperate for the truth and she wants it at any cost……..
The novel moving around Joel’s lifetime really adds to the plots depth. The confusion and mystery is on overload and this novel has ending that will rip your heart out!
*You have been warned! 4.5*