Fantastically eerie and atmospheric, this Gothic thriller set in the Highlands had me hooked from chapter one.
Following the life of ten-year-old Lauren, who lives with her father in the Highlands, she struggles to cope with the disappearance of her mother; a woman she greatly admires but has little memory of.
On Halloween, a gaunt, battered woman stumbles in front of her father’s car, and they take her in; but by morning she has disappeared without a trace and only Lauren has any recollection of her.
The structure of the novel is straightforward, and the prose uses all the classic thriller techniques – including the description of all the senses, almost to the point of excess – but Lauren’s unnerving fear of the unknown keeps the pages turning. A haunting journey.
Pine, by Francine Toon, published Doubleday, £12.99.