From the PR:“Fear blisters through this town like a fever…
When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end.
Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.
Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.
As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.
Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.”
Two things drew me to this book. First – it’s published by Orenda Books and there’s not a book on my shelves with their logo on the spine that I haven’t enjoyed. Secondly, it’s set in Rye. Rye is a small, picturesque town that’s not too far from where I sit and type and, once upon a time, was once. coastal port. It’s one I’ve visited often and happened to have done so just before my copy of So Pretty arrived – massive thanks to Karen at Orenda for sending this one over. It’s certainly changed the way I’m going to be looking at the town next time.
So Pretty is one hell of good book. I cannot think of the last time I was so gripped by a story, or swore under my breath quite so often while reading, or wondered how many more times the hairs on the back of my neck were going to stand up before I reached the end of this novel.
Just as “there is something malignant” about Berry & Vincent, the curio shop that haunts the heart of this novel from which a sense of unease seeps, there’s a deliciously chilling sense of foreboding that seeps out of the pages of So Pretty. And then… well… it dials up the chills with a literal “say Daddy” shudder of a shocker and changes gear as foreboding breaks into full on sinister thrill ride.
It’s a challenge not to give away too much of So Pretty‘s plot away here because this is a ride every reader should take. It’s like a literary roller coaster – that long, drawn out pull up to the peak where you feel the tension rising in as you teeter at the top, realising that Teddy might not be all there, before the sheer, heart-pumping acceleration, twists, turns and terrifying moments that follow. You want to close your eyes and not look but you can’t; it’s just too damn gripping and thrilling as So Pretty races through heart-in-mouth moment after another until it reaches the end and you put the book down, realise you haven’t been breathing for a few moments and almost immediately want to read it again.
Ronnie Turner is a fantastic writer. That’s why this book is so bloody good – it takes real skill to tackle the subjects handled in So Pretty as well as she does all the while creating characters that you care about, painting a detailed and real sense of place and managing to slyly but surely ratchet up that tension – she certainly knows how to keep the book firmly gripped in a reader’s fingers. From multiple narratives – of varying reliability – to gut-check reveals, disturbing vignette after another, real emotional pull and moments of genuine ‘I need to put this down for a second and say “fuuuuuuucking hell” a few times’, So Pretty delivers everything you want in a thriller and more.