Wow, my first book review! I didn’t think this would ever happen but thanks to a few Twitter friends giving me some confidence; I have decided to just go for it.
My first review is a book I finished last week, and although at the time I was glad it was over as I found it a difficult read at times; it has been playing on my mind a lot so it obviously was better than I thought!
The premise is simple, two girls, a mango farm, a strange ‘chemist’ and a secret. Taken from the back of the book:
‘A dark, medical thriller. An enigmatic chemist tends his prized orchid collection on a remote farm. International backpackers find their way there each season, desperate for work. The Chemist welcomes them all in with open arms. But what chilling, twisted secret is he hiding?
Young backpackers Gemma and Hayley arrive at the farm one summer. The farm’s handsome owner, Tate Llewellyn, seems eccentric but kind, running his hobby farm and cultivating rare orchids in his greenhouse.
The weeks go on, a blur of fruit-picking, parties, campfires and wading beneath waterfalls in the nearby hot springs. Tate calls the girls his orchids…his pretty orchids.
Until the night the girls find themselves on a dark highway, bruised and bloodied.
How did everything go so wrong?
Senior Detective Bronwen McKay and psychologist Megan Arlotti question the terrified girls. But Hayley and Gemma are telling two very different stories of what happened to them over the past three months.
Which story is the truth and what are the girls covering up?’
I found this book through Instagram, who doesn’t love a good book advert on IG? The premise intrigued me and I could get a free copy so nothing ventured, nothing gained right?
The book started off quite quickly, a lot of information and action within the first few chapters, with what happened to Hayley and Gemma, introducing the detectives and psychiatrist. However, once we start going back to discovering what actually happened to the girls, it starts to slow down and I personally felt like a lot of it could have been left out. I understand that the writers, who are fantastic by the way, wanted to produce a timeline of events but it seemed to have been dragged out a bit too much. I’m not sure if this is because I was reading on my phone and therefore one normal page is three or four ‘phone pages’ and it just took forever!
The girls, Gemma and Hayley are likeable, relatable characters and easy to get sympathy and empathy from the reader, even if their choices seem a little too sketchy or outlandish which is exactly how they should be. The rest of the people on the farm are not as tolerable, some of them just annoying and others a bit too predictable in their behaviours. However, before I knew part of the twist which I ended up guessing, the young male backpackers on the farm seemed nice and simple and the ‘chemist’ was suitable creepy as to know something was going to happen with him. The detectives, one female and one male, were well written characters, if slightly stereotypical and predictable for a lot of police thrillers. The psychiatrist was the only character I actually fully liked, she seemed really relatable and rather normal!
The only thing that kept me going in this story was knowing that at some point, everything would be explained. I don’t often feel like I need to rush a book to finish it; but I did skim read the last 3 or 4 chapters just so I could find out how the girls ended up needing help. The part that shocked me was a meaningless death of a character that I felt didn’t add anything to the story. The ending seemed a bit rushed after this, everything was tied together a bit too neatly and one of the smaller twists that I almost missed (due to me skipping) could really have done with a tiny bit more explanation.
I normally love a good psychological thriller and I think if I’d read a proper book rather than on my phone; I may have enjoyed it more. I’m not sure though as the characters for me just weren’t anything substantial and had no meat to them. I definitely would give both writers another go though! The book was well researched as there was quite a bit of scientific knowledge as well as the usual police procedures that accompany these types of novels. This was unfortunately not my favourite thriller.
***Disclaimer*** – The book was free on Kindle Unlimited at the time of reading or £0.99 to buy.