The Island of Lost Girls by Alex Marwood #bookreview

For twelve-year-old Mercedes, La Kastellana is the place she calls home. It is an island untouched by the modern world, with deep-rooted traditions – though that is all about to change with the arrival of multimillionaire Matthew Meade and his spoiled young daughter, Tatiana. The Meades bring with them unimaginable wealth, but the price they will all pay is far darker than Mercedes and the islanders could ever have imagined.

Robin is desperately searching for her seventeen-year-old daughter Gemma, who has been missing for over a year. Finding herself on La Kastellana, the island playground of the international jet set, Robin is out of her depth. Nobody wants to help and Robin fears she is running out of time to find her child.

But someone has been watching, silently waiting for their moment to expose the dark truth and reveal to the world what really happens on the island of lost girls.

My thoughts on The Island of Lost Girls

I’ve only ever read one other book by Alex Marwood, and that was years ago (back in 2016). It was a book I really enjoyed so I’m not sure why I’ve not read any of her books since (other than the fact there are always too many books to read, and never enough time). Flash forward to 2022 and a Marwood book is back on my reading list again. Based on my one previous read, I had high expectations. For the most part, they were met, though not completely.

Moving between the past and the present (1985 and 2016), this is primarily Mercedes’ story. As a young girl, she is drawn into a world of wealth and power as her home becomes a playground for the rich and the very rich. At first, it is appealing, a world she wants to be part of. Too late, she realises that not all is as it seems. There is only one way out for her, a dangerous one.

In the present, running alongside Mercedes’ story, is Robin’s, a story of a mother searching for her lost daughter (Gemma) and a chance to make amends. Without realising it, she and Gemma have placed themselves at the centre of something much bigger than she, or her daughter. Like Mercedes, they now find themselves in danger.

After a slow start, the Island of Lost Girls moves at quite a clip, which kept me turning pages. Marwood does a great job of painting an isolated but beautiful island taken over by the tourist industry. She has also created a plot with plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing.

What she didn’t do is create characters I could root for. Mercedes and Robin were sympathetic but the ‘bad guys’, of which there were plenty, all felt two dimensional. They were bad in a way that didn’t feel real to me. It’s a shame because I wanted to care. But in the end, I didn’t. Which leaves me with a good, but not great, book. 3 out of 5 stars.


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