The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst

The Foster ChildWhen Imogen and Dan decide to move back to her childhood home after the death of her mother, it is with the idea of starting a new life after a difficult year, one where Imogen found herself unemployed and suffering from a breakdown.

Unable to find work in London and maintain their lifestyle, a chance to move to a home already paid for seems like a good idea, as does taking a job at a local child protection agency (Imogen is a child psychologist).  If only Imogen could stop feeling full of dread.

These feelings only get worse as she starts to work with a young girl in foster care, Ellie, who has lost her family in a fire.  Imogen can’t help but feel a connection to Ellie and the need to defend her against what seems like the whole town – teachers, her foster parents, and other kids; all seem convinced something isn’t quite right with Ellie.

Even Ellie thinks that something isn’t quite right.  When she gets angry, strange things seem to happen, people get hurt.  Only Imogen is certain that Ellie is innocent and she will do anything she can to defend her, including putting her career and her relationships on the line.

I have to say I wasn’t sure if Imogen was being wonderfully loyal or plain stupid by believing Ellie and I spent a lot of time second-guessing myself (though my initial instincts turned out to be right…though what they were I won’t say).  Jenny Blackhurst does a brilliant job of keeping you guessing, adding a supernatural twist that kept things fresh in what might otherwise have been a fairly standard plot.

There are plenty of twists and turns and unreliable characters here, all things I love in a book.  Imogen (who tells her story) and Ellie (whose version of events you hear in alternating chapters) are well drawn if somewhat unlikeable.  I really wanted to warm to them but I just couldn’t, which is a shame as there were already plenty of other characters for me not to like – I’m not sure any had many, if any, redeeming features.

Unfortunately, my not liking them did impact my enjoyment of the book.  I loved the plot and the twists and turns, I really liked the writing, but I just didn’t like the characters and – as a result – I found myself struggling at times.  I wanted to shake Imogen for the way she treated her husband and some of the decisions she made and, whilst I understood why Ellie was withdrawn and uncommunicative, I just didn’t feel the sympathy for her that I think I should have done.

Where does this leave me?  With mixed feeling if I’m honest.  I liked this book, I just didn’t love it.  Sorry!


About the book…

When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.

Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.

But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…

Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 16th November, 2017 (paperback, already out as ebook)
Pages: 400
Find on Goodreads

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.


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