When Beth loses sight of her daughter, 8 year old Carmel, at a book festival, everyone tells her it will be alright, not to panic. Carmel can’t have gone far, just lost her bearings in the sea fog that rolled in. Beth knows differently though. It seems she has always known – feared – she would lose Carmel one day.
And she is right, because Carmel is gone and no one can find her. She has been spirited away by a man claiming to be her grandad. A man who believes Carmel is special and will change his life. He is right, but maybe not in the ways he thinks or hopes, just as he has changed the lives of Carmel and Beth in ways they could never have dreamt.
What happens next is told in alternating chapters by Carmel and Beth and, at first, it had me turning pages at a rate of knots. I found the book unputdownable – until about halfway through. Then, my enthusiasm wained slightly because I started to find Carmel’s story just a little far-fetched. I struggled to suspend belief and with the tone / style because this was supposed to be an 8 year old talking but there often seemed to be an older woman peaking through.
Beth, I had no problem believing. Her grief and pain felt very real and very raw. It was this, as opposed to the thriller element, that kept me reading. I felt for Beth and Kate Hamer does a great job making her sympathetic without overplaying the heart strings. I wanted to see a happy ending for her, or at least some type of closure and, in that, I got my way – even though it was a slightly rushed.
All this has left me with mixed feelings about the book. I would say I liked it, but not as much as I’d hoped. And so I’m not sure I would recommend it. Sorry!