Stunningly written and claustrophobic. Tall Bones by Anna Bailey @AnnaFBailey @DoubleDayUK @AlisonBarrow #TallBones

When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, 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 façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. 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 Ridge, this tinder box 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….

Tall Bones, from page one had an intoxicating air about it, Anna’s written prose tugs you in with her vivid imagery and poetic approach to a claustrophobic small – town thriller. The story you’ll discover between the pages is one of a haunting missing case, Abigail was last seen by her friend Emma at a party. With each chapter, we the reader begin to understand the threads of life that has grown around the hole Abigail’s disappearance has left behind. The first aspect we begin to understand is the dynamic of the family, the one at the heart of the plotline – with aspects of the darker brimstone side of religion, a bubbling of rage under the surface of a domestic setting.

As I delved deeper and deeper into the characters’ lives at Whistling Bridge, I begun to feel captivated by the ever evolving web of deceit that orbits around the societal prejudices this town possesses while also feeling sympathetic to characters, such as Dolly, Jude and Emma – the best friend who is imbodied by guilt for leaving Abigail behind, left vulnerable. I thoroughly enjoyed the slow burning pace of Tall Bones, the waves of tension arriving regularly, leaving drops of reveals and suspicion. I felt that the multi-character narrative created for a bleak and emotive read, we become to understand each individual at the centre of this event more and more, understanding that to a certain degree each person may contribute a piece of this thrilling puzzle.

I found Tall Bones compelling, the claustrophobic tension of the storyline and the interwoven characters buried itself underneath many of my skin layers. I was gripped by the benevolent, captivating writing, hooked by the slow-burning mystery bubbling away under the surface. I enjoyed this small town thriller, one where the characters had their own individual narratives, the town as a whole being that of a Religiously oppressed community where webs of deceit and betrayal have begun to develop.

Tall Bones is a brilliant novel, one that has not only been cleverly crafted for the ultimate shock but fantastically executed. I’d describe this novel as a hybrid of literary fiction with a dark, bleak domestic thriller.

Tall Bones is due to be published on the 1st of April be Doubleday Books in a range of formats. You can pre-order your hardback copy here. Thanks again to the wonderful Alison Barrow for sending me a proof copy to review.

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