Some stories are meant to be told. Some authors shoot you in the heart, leaving you panting, the adrenaline running through your veins, the tears steaming down your face. Emotionally exhausted but so happy to have read Only Daughter, I present you my little review, knowing it could never do this novel justice.
My biggest thanks to Bookouture for this amazing read and for allowing me to be part of this blog tour.
Title: Sarah A. Denzil
Date of publication: 13.03.2019
Number of pages: 341
‘Your daughter is dead.’
When Kat Cavanaugh hears the words every mother dreads, her perfect world shatters. She takes in the beautiful long blonde hair, torn yellow dress and chipped blue nail-varnish. It can’t be real.
And then the police add the word ‘suicide’. But Kat refuses to believe them.
Even when they show her the familiar looping handwriting and smudged ink on the note her little girl left behind. She knows her bubbly, vivacious daughter would never take her own life.
As she searches Grace’s perfume-scented room, filled with smiling photos, she uncovers secrets her little girl had been hiding. Secrets that could put her in terrible danger too.
But Kat’s determined to find out what really happened to Grace on the night she died, whatever it takes…
This addictive and heart-pounding psychological thriller will keep you gripped late into the night.
Mother and daughter relationships are captivating. They say it shapes your life, and in a way, it truly does. I am blessed to have a strong and independent mother who loves me unconditionally, and as an only child, I was (over)protected and cherished (still am!). What interests me is to compare my own experience with others and to clash it against clichés. I picked Only Daughter because of the winning combination of a beautiful blue cover, an efficient title, and an intriguing synopsis.
Reading Only Daughter is like opening a bottle of perfume. When I was little, I used to hide in my aunt’s room at my grandparents and open those small glasses containing this strange water. Some bottles made me happy, others nostalgic, and the worst made me sneeze. This is where I learned the power of fragrances. The intoxicating scent surrounded me straight away, plunging me in every mother’s nightmare. The opening is poignant, desperate, and heart-breaking, and left me bereft. Then, without awareness, my heart started beating at the same rhythm as Kat. The smell, strong and lingering, wrapped us in a clear fog, the new and empty world of a mother without her daughter. The scent never left me and kept me awake until 3am, unable to tear myself away from the novel in my hands. Sarah Denzil impressed me with her spot-on writing, never weepy, always heart-wrenching, swimming from one emotion to the other, allowing Kat to navigate her new boat without the anchor that was Grace.
Only Daughter doesn’t deal with the hackneyed mother-daughter tropes. It goes above and beyond. It gives grief a colour, it gives emptiness a form, and it gives a mother the opportunity to show her fire. How well do you know your child? Grace is said to have committed suicide, but Kat can’t even begin to imagine her daughter doing such a thing. This made me walk down memory lane, to my teenage years and the days of struggles. Finding myself meant not telling my mother everything. Did it mean I didn’t love her? Trust her? Can Kat make the link between the Grace she knew and the one her actions and things left behind are portraying? Those questions talked to the deepest places of my heart and stirred so many emotions in me that I almost got scared.
The bottle of perfume… The smell of her daughter mixed with Kat’s guilt, and the bittersweet taste of her questions. As we get to know Grace through Kat’s eyes, we also intrude Kat’s mind, and this was the most beautiful and moving part I have ever read. Kat is no ordinary woman. Her belief that her daughter would never have chosen death is common, but the author takes this usual reaction and pushes it to the limits, exploring a mind that is boiling with overflowing emotions and seeing the world through dark glasses. There is a true observation of a woman, a wife, and a mother here. One you can’t forget, one that life and death can’t change. I fell for Kat. It happened unexpectedly, suddenly, and it swallowed me whole.
Grace’s presence is everywhere, and so are secrets and lies around her passing away. I sometimes wondered if Kat was chasing her daughter’s ghost, clinging to the bluish scent of her sweet teenager. I sometimes truly believed there was more that met the eyes around Grace’s fate.
I can’t categorise Only Daughter. It definitely is a character-driven novel. Characters you fight against, fight with, live with. But the mystery hovers above as a burning whirlwind. Kat turns her pain into a driving force, walking through the fire and holding on to the bond which linked her to Grace, until the truth is revealed. How do I let you know that my heart felt like exploding, that my chest felt too small to digest the reality of it all, that saying goodbye to Grace brought me peace and reinforced my faith in motherhood? How do I convey the strength with which the author strikes Kat, and her readers, with the past and the present, with life and death?
Only Daughter is a magnificent psychological novel, one that makes you dig deep to connect to the roots of our emotions. I am in awe of Sarah A. Denzil’s ability to imprison her character in a bottle, letting them float and cast a spell on the reader, taking them by the hand for an unforgettable experience.
Don’t think twice, treat yourself to one of this year’s best novels!
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2Syx5au
Sarah A. Denzil is a British suspense writer from Derbyshire. In her alternative life–AKA Sarah Dalton–she writes speculative fiction for teenagers, including The Blemished, Mary Hades and White Hart.
Sarah lives in Yorkshire with her partner, enjoying the scenic countryside and rather unpredictable weather.
Saving April, Sarah’s debut suspense thriller, is a psychological look into the minds of the people around us who we rarely even consider – our neighbours. What do we really know about them, and what goes on when the doors are closed?
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