About this book…
One hot summer’s day, two-year-old Jessica Preston disappears from the beach. The police are convinced she drowned, but Sandra Preston won’t give up hope that her daughter is still alive. After all, a mother’s instinct is never wrong.
Twenty years later, another child goes missing, and Sandra is approached by a young journalist who raises questions about what really happened to Jessica Preston all those years ago. But when the journalist discovers someone with an explosive secret, it threatens not only to reveal what’s been covered up for so long, but puts both their lives in danger.
As most of you know I am a huge fan of “missing children” novels so I was very intrigued by the blurb of Child Taken and knew I had to read it as soon as possible. What I hadn’t been expecting though was that this book would stand out from the crowd, giving me a more thought provoking storyline than the usual psychological suspense. Using a journalist to uncover the truth surrounding the disappearance of two-year old Jessica Preston was a interesting alternative to the normal police investigations used in similar books.
I think it’s every mothers nightmare that all it takes sometimes is just a couple of seconds for your child to disappear from your line of sight. That feeling of utter panic when you can’t see them where you thought they would be is one I’m sure many parents are familiar with! I feel sick just thinking about it! And that’s what happens at the beginning of Child Taken. Moving forward to the present day, we meet with a feisty young journalist who becomes intrigued by the missing child that has been forgotten by everyone….except her mother. Interspersed with her investigations are short chapters narrated by a man who’s wife one day brings home a child who isn’t theirs and also a mum, who one day at the beach loses sight of her young daughter. For me, having those two POV alongside the main narrative was what I found so refreshing about this book. There was no mystery as to what happened to Jessica-we know she has been taken – but as we watched the years pass by we are able to understand how her disappearance has affected those closest to her through their own eyes. This gave me more of an insight to the emotions felt by everyone affected by this tragedy.
I tried to feel some sympathy for the woman who takes Jessica from that beach but nothing could make up for what she did in my eyes and I became so frustrated with the husband! Why didn’t he stop what was happening? I did feel as though I never really got to know the woman who actually took Jessica as well as I did her husband. She stayed a shadowy figure adrift on the periphery of what she had done. By contrast, I found Jessica’s mothers POV utterly heartbreaking and as the years crept by, it was her story I was drawn to more than any other.
Darren Young has crafted his characters well here, building them slowly as he drip feeds us information about them. This isn’t a fast paced thriller but it has a carefully constructed plot that is driven by the need to discover the truth no matter what the cost. I found myself thinking about the storyline even when I didn’t have the book in front of me, and even had an “alternative reality” running through my mind where I could see the life Jessica would have lead if she hadn’t been taken. And that’s why Child Taken worked so well for me, I connected with the characters and became so emotionally attached to them that I found them hard to let go of once I had read the ending.
This is an accomplished debut novel from Darren Young. He is a natural storyteller and has such an engaging writing style that I could lose myself in his words all day long. Definitely a name to look out for in the future.
Many thanks to Anna at Red Door for my advanced review copy of Child Taken: A chilling page-turner you will be unable to put down which was published on 18th May 2017
Meet the author…
Darren Young lives in Nottingham with his wife, Luisa and their two children, Alessio and Emilia. Away from writing, his background is in helping organisations improve their customer service, working initially in financial services and then as a consultant in the UK and Europe, He has a master s degree in business administration from The University of Wolverhampton. He’s always enjoyed writing he used to chronicle his family holidays as a child and wanted to try his hand at writing a book for a while but didn t think there was enough time in his already busy life to fit it in. Luckily, he found a sympathetic coffee shop and plenty of encouragement from those around him and he began working on Child Taken at the end of 2014 after hearing a radio news bulletin whilst in the car. The story ninety-five percent of which made the final version was complete in his head before the end of that journey. He is especially interested in how ordinary people deal with extraordinary situations that ‘could happen’ but that, thankfully, few of us ever have to face. Darren is currently writing his next novel.