Valentina by S E Lynes

About this book…

When Glasgow journalist Shona McGilvery moves with her partner Mikey and their baby to an idyllic cottage in rural Scotland, they believe that all that lies ahead of them is happiness.

But with Mikey working offshore, the frightening isolation of the Aberdeenshire countryside begins to drive her insane…

That is, until she is rescued by a new friendship with the enchanting Valentina.

She has the perfect home, the perfect man, and a charismatic new best friend – or does she? As her fairytale life begins to unravel, the deep dark wood becomes the least of her fears…

My review…

I started this book when I was on a train journey earlier in the summer months but I quickly realised that I didn’t want to dip into it over a few days, catching reading time whenever I could. I had only got to 6% but I had got….. “the feeling”! Yes THAT feeling-the tingly excitement of discovering a book that you want to hide away with and read in one or two long sittings. So, it came on my summer holiday with me and what a fabulous choice I made as it turned out to be one of my top holiday reads-a 5* book that kept me glued to my sunlounger.

I was drawn to the book initially due to rave reviews from fellow bloggers and after investigating further I realised that lots of the locations were very familiar to me. I love books that are set in places that mean something to me so the setting of Aberdeenshire and the connection to the oil industry engaged me from the start. Although from Norfolk, I moved to just outside Aberdeen due to my mum’s job so the mention of places such as Banchory, the Ardoe House Hotel and Kippie Lodge really brought back some very emotional memories of my time there (we were members of Kippie Lodge and always felt like we were in an episode of Dallas whenever we went!!). There were lots of incomers to the area at the height of the oil industry and as one of them I did struggle to settle and fit in. So that was the reason I felt so fiercely protective of Shona as I really felt her every emotion when she had to up sticks and leave behind a home and family she loved.

Susie Lynes weaves such a twisty plot into her storytelling that once I started this (the second time!) I couldn’t put it down and at one point even gasped out loud! But she also takes us beyond what happens here and I’m sure I’m not the only one who came away unable to move on from it as the issues raised stayed on my mind for quite some time afterwards. There is certainly plenty of ponder upon and I think book clubs up and down the country would have a field day with this one!

The isolation of new mothers means that sometimes friendships are formed by women where the only thing they have in common is the fact that they gave birth at the same time! There is so much to discuss here after dissecting the meeting between Shona and Valentina that very quickly becomes an intensely close relationship. I felt such an empathy for Shona the whole way through (apart from one little thing and I’m sure you’ll know what that is after you have read it!) as she felt like a kindred spirit and I connected with her right from the start. I even envied her her fabulous new friendship with Valentina-to have someone so unconventional and free spirited come into her life just when she needed her the most seemed almost too good to be true!

This was a tightly knitted, gripping storyline where I was aware from very early on that something wasn’t quite right. But what? Was I correct in my assumptions? Well, in some cases I was but not all as there are a few shockers along the way here. This is such a self assured debut written with a such a perfect understanding of what makes women connect with others and how parenthood makes us perceive the world around us and the people in it very differently. Honestly, when I finished it I just wanted to go back and read the whole thing again! Such wonderfully atmospheric storytelling has given me a real hunger for another book from Susie and she has joined the list of writers who truly can’t write quickly enough for me! Just BRILLIANT!

Valentina: A Hauntingly Intelligent Psychological ThrillerΒ is available to purchase here from Amazon UK

About the author…

B1u88GuzWjS._SX150_After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London for a couple of years before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at the BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington.

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I am a Norfolk girl living in leafy Cheshire with my grumpy Scotsman. A mum and nana who lives for my family but who is also addicted to reading (and Marmite!) I will read almost anything but my preferred genres to review are psychological thrillers, crime procedural novels or women's fiction. My kindle is my life but I also have a substantial bookshelf in my cosy reading room where I can go to escape the stresses of family life with plenty of tea and chocolate. I am a member of netgalley and bookbridg. I review on Amazon, where I'm a Top 500 reviewer, and Goodreads. You can always find me over on Twitter @jocatrobertson for any review requests.

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