The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield #bookreview

Charlotte waves at her mother across the crowded lawn. Little red boots on, cowboy hat crooked over her blonde pigtails, she’s been looking forward to this party for weeks. Moments later, she disappears without a trace…

Kathy Hamilton drives away from her sister-in-law’s pristine-white suburban house in Maple Falls certain she’s left her daughter in safe hands. On the hottest day of the year, a birthday is the perfect excuse to gather friends, family and neighbors around the pool for a barbecue. But when she returns hours later to find her little girl has vanished, her world shatters.

Nobody laughing and drinking in the garden that day saw anything unusual.

Kathy’s eldest daughter is anxious and hardly eating. Is she sick with worry for her sister, or hiding a terrible secret?

The phone rings and rings, but why can’t Kathy get hold of the babysitter?

And is she imagining it, or when her husband rushed from work to join the search, was he wearing a different shirt to the one she saw him leave the house in that morning?

As the temperature rises, and long-buried secrets begin to surface, it’s clear that even the most perfect families keep devastating secrets. But in a town as small as this, is there anyone you can trust?

My thoughts on The Birthday Party

There’s an awful lot going on in the blurb for The Birthday Party. And an awful lot going on in the book. Too much. There is the core story of a young girl (Charlie) going missing, an attack on her babysitter, a husband and wife, both of whom have secrets, and a potential love story. All going on at once.

So much was going on, I found reading The Birthday Party exhausting. Holding all the threads together, remember who had done what. It took effort. Effort I wouldn’t have minded if I had cared about the characters or what happened to them.

Unfortunately I didn’t. Not one of them spoke to me. I found the behaviour of Mitch and Karen, whose daughter was missing, strange (I won’t say more for spoilers other than they seemed to bounce back very quickly).

And I found the need to stretch my belief that all the characters were connected in such a complex way too much (even though I know you have to suspend belief with these type of books, there still needs to be a sense that things could happen).

At its core, I think there is something in The Birthday Party I could enjoy. However, it was too long, too ‘padded’, and too complicated. Which means it isn’t one I’ll be recommending. 3/5 stars.


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

Find on Amazon UK

Find on Amazon US


  1. Ahh, that’s a shame. I was quite liking the sound of it but it does sound rather busy and I’m not sure that such a busy description is necessary! I feel like all the possible suspects have already been lined up.
    Lynn 😀


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