Friday, 20 January 2017

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

Book Review

The Girl Before by J. P. Delaney

"Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life."

The Girl Before will be released on 26th January. It is written by J. P. Delaney and published by Quercus.

Yet another thriller with the word Girl in the title. But while some of the other 'girls club' titles haven't lived up to the original Gone Girl, The Girl Before does a good try and very almost gets there.
With its original setting and concept I'm sure this is a book that is going to be popular.


Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there - and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma's past and Jane's present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

Although I was sceptical at the start, this book really grew on me and I became hooked, trying to figure out, not just the mystery of the girl before, but also the characters. They all start off seeming a bit flat and obvious, but as the story continues you realise their depth and also their lack of trustworthiness. No one and nothing is as it seems.

As I said, I was a bit sceptical at the beginning of The Girl Before, especially of the character Edward Monkford, the architect of the house, who seemed to be a bit of a Christian Grey type character that the lead females were clearly going to fall for (yawn). However, he has more about him than a two-dimensional disciplinarian and as you read its really hard to place him, is he sinister or just a perfectionist?

The house, One Folgate Street, is a character in itself, sinister yet beautiful. Is it healing the women or tearing them apart? It's a really great concept to have this amazing and mysterious house as the setting of a mysterious death. Woven throughout are the questions that Emma and Jane had to answer in order to rent the house. I was questioning whether I would want to live in it, could live in it, and if it would be wonderful or frustrating.

The Girl Before will appeal to people who love a thriller where you can't trust any one and revelations are thrown at you at every turn. Just as I thought I was getting a grip on the story it would twist again into something else and I would have to readjust all my perceptions

Alternating between the Now with Jane's narrative, and the Then with Emma's was a really effective story telling device and it allowed the story to unfold and be revealed with the perfect amount of tension.

The only reason I'm not giving it 5 stars is that the writing was a bit juvenile for me in a few places, Delaney is probably trying to make the narration realistic but with quite a few "He's like.What?" sort of things littering the text it irritated me and didn't seem to fit with the rest of the prose.
Also, I don't know if it was just the ARC I received, but there were no quotation marks for dialogue, which drove me a tiny bit crazy.

Actually, I'd love to read a 'proper' version of the book. I don't mind reading on my Kindle but some books just seem to warrant a nice, thick 'real' book that will have you rapidly turning the pages. The Girl Before is definitely one of these.

My rating: 4/5

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

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