Firstly, huge thank you to Ode Ray for sending me a copy of her novel in exchange for an honest review.
CW: References to homophobia, domestic violence
In the present day, two bodies have been found washed ashore in Italy however in order to identify who they are we are taken to London and Marseille seven years ago… In London we meet Benedict, a successful but lonely man and just outside of Marseille we meet Marie, a single mum who works as a nurse to do the best she can for her little boy. However, a devastating revelation following a loved one’s death throws everything these people know into question…
I really liked the protagonists of the book. Marie and Benedict both lead very different lives which was a great contrast and added extra depth to this mystery. Marie is a stray single mum living on ‘gypsy campsite’ just outside of Marseille, France whilst Benedict has an important job in finance based in London and although his lifestyle is more luxurious it is also more lonely especially after his only remaining family member dies. They balanced each other very well and it was great seeing how they developed over the course of the novel. I also liked how similar their senses of humor and personalities are. They felt like genuine people and had very real struggles which was interesting to read and I’m sure many people could relate to.
As well as the strong protagonists, there were also some great additional characters too. I particularly loved Romain and Yukinobu, they balanced Marie and Benedict wonderfully. I really tried Romain’s childish enthusiasm, as well as how protective he was over his mother, and it was lovely seeing him grow up over the course of the novel. Yukinobu, on the other hand, always seemed calm and composed, he was the level head that Benedict needed when dealing with the emotional trauma of Benedict losing his last loved one in more ways than one. I enjoyed seeing how all of the different characters interacted with each other too.
This novel regularly goes back and forth between character perspectives and time periods. With so much thrown at you straight away, it took a few chapters to get my head around it however, soon everything became clearer and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative style. It even made me feel like a detective myself trying to piece together how everything related. Even when I thought I had worked out the full story, Ray did an excellent job at throwing curveballs. These weren’t twists for the sake of being twists either, whilst I was shocked by some of them, they all made perfect sense and you could see how much thought Ray had put into this novel and how these characters’ lives intertwined right from the very start.
Where the narrative shifts every chapter this was, not only a very effective way of slowly revealing crucial details, but it also really helped you understand the characters further. The fact that we spent most of the novel in the past did a great job of building the characters up. Not just with the major players but with some of the additional characters too. This was a nice touch as it truly emphasised how important each character was to the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book from Ray. The mystery and writing kept me gripped and I found it very easy to become absorbed in the lives of these characters. I highly recommend this book and that you should pick up when it’s released tomorrow!