When seventeen – year old Emma leaves her best friend Abigail at a party in the woods, she believes that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.
Abi’s disappearance cracks open the facade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long – held grudges and resentments. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked: of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed; of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars; of Dolly, her mother, and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.
Anything could happen in Whistling Bridge, this tinderbox of small – town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones.
A Goldsboro Books Premier edition, pretty spredges and stellar reviews over on Instagram made me pick this book up now. My son helped me choose and I think the spredges did it for him to! Aren’t they gorgeous?
Engrossed from the outset this book kept me up late and distracted me from other tasks. I absolutely loved it, it reminded me of Mare of Easttown and speaking about this book on Instagram I noted I wasn’t alone in making this comparision.
Small town vibes are IT in this book. A close community centred around and led by the Church Pastor, these god fearing locals are frankly an unsavoury bunch. Abi disappears at a party in the woods, the story is then told in a then and now format as the search for her continues. What unfolds is a shocking story of abuse on every level, with the Pastor interpreting the bible in a bigoted and hateful way, townsfolk who are happy to take the law into their own hands in the name of God and law enforcement who are happy to watch the local vigilantes deal with ‘outsiders’. Similarly what happens within the home stays in the home, with the bruises on women and children ignored. The silence is deafening.
All of this weaves together to form a tremendous plot, with many folk acting suspicious and a cast of despicable characters. As a story this felt very authentic. I loved the setting, the small town America location gave an insular and remote sense within this community steeped in local history and secrets. Much was alluded to in the writing and I enjoyed the suspense this cereated.
The characters were well formed and dynamic and the author explored these interactions well and the impact of behaviours, creating a ripple effect within the Blake family particularly.
There are trigger warnings for this book and some of the domestic abuse referenced was harrowing. However for me this book was a brilliant, compelling read with an excellent plot shrouded in mystery and atmosphere. A fantastic and deserving Goldsboro Books Premier selection, that I would very highly recommend.
About the Author
Anna Bailey was born in Bristol in 1995 and spent her childhood in Gloucestershire. She studied Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and wanted to become a journalist, but ended up moving to Colorado and becoming a Starbucks barista instead. In 2018 she returned to the UK, where she enrolled in the Curtis Brown Creative Novel – writing course and wrote her first novel, Tall Bones, inspired by her experience living in small – town America.