Saturday, September 29, 2018

Book Review:Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Hardcover, 341 pages

Published September 2018 by William Morrow (first published in the UK May 2018)

Cross Her Heart is one of the books I most looked forward to this year. I admit I miss Sarah Pinborough the supernatural horror writer. I am sure there are thousands of new fans that have just read the last two novels that might not jive with the heartbreaking end of the world novel Deathhouse or the grim dystopia of the Dog Faced Gods trilogy but to me they are some of the best novels I have read in the last decade. While the shift away from horror is a little bit of a bummer for me it is not heartbreaking as say Poppy Z Brite's shift to what I consider unreadable food porn novels.

Behind Her eyes and Cross her Heart mark a new direction but it is one I totally get behind because in the end they are amazing reads. the latest Cross Her Heart is a masterpiece of parallels and reversals. I should say that this is a twisty turny narrative that is better if you know nothing going in, and that is how I did it.

These are thrillers in the Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train style and if you trust me stop right here and read it.

OK minor spoilers ahead but mostly focused on theme not plot details. At it's heart is a thriller that is entirely about the bonds of friendship between women. The main character Lisa has a friendship with her co-worker that parallels one from her childhood. One is toxic one and one is lovely. It is one of the strong points of the book. As a male reader I really enjoyed seeing a thriller that was focused so heavily on the friendship of women.

The novel starts with a misdirection that if you read without any prior info really makes you think the novel is going one way. The story has a couple serious twists but all of them feel earned to me. SP is a writer is in full command of her narrative tool box and Cross Her Heart is a great example.

At the heart of the story are great characters. If Lisa was not a fragile and needy mother, If Ava was not typical thoughtless teenager it wouldn't work. If Marilyn Lisa's friend was not in a complicated (at first) relationship then the book would be a heart-less story of twists. The heart gives all the turns in the story weight. Personally I felt very deeply for Lisa and Marylin.

The other really great thing is the prose is tight, there is no fat on the bones here. Coming in at 341 pages I feel most writers would take 700 pages to tell this story. SP drills down to what is important keeps the pace moving and is master at skipping the parts you don't need. Cross Her heart is another example of why Sarah Pinborough is a master story teller.

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