This was a rather enthralling read from start to finish, and is written in a format I have come to love - from the various perspectives of key characters. I love this style as it gives the reader snippets into each character's mind that other styles fail to do so. I find I am more and more drawn to books written in this format.
The story is one of Harper Penn, a criminologist with a PhD, told mostly from his perspective about what he thought, felt and believed about his wife Diane who at the beginning of the book was rushed to hospital with a hemorrhage, to find she had miscarried. Problem was, Harper had just discovered he was infertile. A few days after her return home, Diane pops out to the shops for some pain killers and never returns home, leaving Harper to think and tell himself that she must have run off with her lover and father of her baby, since he was unable to father one.
Another part of the story is about Clara. A vivacious young seven year old who has a high imagination and one day after being trapped for a night in an old castle, begins to talk and answer only quoting fairy tales refusing to engage with anyone. Her mother Marion, who also narrates as does Clara, has cancer and is being treated with chemo and quite often is too sick to get out of bed, leaving Clara to entertain herself which she is more than happy to do so.
Harper and Marion's stories meet one day when she collapses on the village green and he helps her home. Here a friendship forms. So when Clara inexplicably disappears, Harper is who Marion calls first.
The book's synopsis showed much promise about one village and two secrets. Unfortunately, the climax really only delved into one of them, although we do learn beforehand the other secret, it is really left by the wayside and failed to really be addressed in the end. It was merely revealed along the way whilst searching for Clara that the secret surrounding her was far greater than the one involving Diane, I felt it didn't really rate much of a mention. The other disappointing factor was the ending was really an anti-climax. In the end, there didn't seem to be much by way of explanation for Clara's disappearance even though the "secret" was obvious - what was the abductor planning to do with them? Let them die and be forgotten about. It was a pretty weak ending in my opinion, but it was still an incredibly enjoyable book. I loved the way Clara's fairytale conversation was telling in it's own way, despite it being Harper - who had no kids or no experience with kids to draw on - who made the connection. Slightly unbelievable on that score because it would really have to be someone who knew and understood kids and how they interacted and worked to understand how their minds worked to reveal what Clara was actually saying when she only quoted fairy tales and "Little Red Riding Hood" in answer to everything.
In all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book and very enthralling but sadly with just a disappointing ending which really let it down. Otherwise, it was perfect.