Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publishing Date: 4th April 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Psychological Suspense
Erin Kelly, master of suspense, returns with her next thrilling standalone featuring an abandoned mental asylum and the secrets it holds.
Marianne was never supposed to return to town, the town where she grew up in the shadow of the Nazareth Mental Hospital. Her mother may be suffering from dementia nearby, but she had thought she’d left that place, and its dark secrets, behind her. That is, until her husband buys a flat in its newly renovated interior so that she can be close enough to help her mother, and Marianne can’t tell him why the place fills her with such dread, she can’t risk destroying the careful life she’s built. Erin Kelly, the master of suspense, will delight fans with her next thrilling novel of psychological suspense.
“Stone Mother” was used as a term for an asylum. Such a mental hospital was the heart of a small town of Nusstead in Suffolk, that is, until it was closed, leaving many of the town residents unemployed. Now apartments have been built where the hospital used to be and Marianne’s husband Sam surprised her, buying one of them. Marianne is spooked and agitated but the reasons for her feelings are different to those you could think about… There is her ex – boyfriend Jesse involved, there is an old scandal and a successful but loathed politician. What do they all have to do with Marianne? And why is she so scared of living in the so – called “Park Royal Manor”?
This was a complex story told through different timelines. Rather of a slower pace, especially the first part, and to be honest I had some difficulties to get into it, which made me start to panic actually, and I think that mostly it was because there were so many detailed descriptions of the Nazareth hospital – there was more hospital than the actual story. And, well, I couldn’t connect with Marianne – no particular reason, she just felt too meh, too spineless, and Jesse made me feel desperate. However, when the story changed the narrator, it also speeded up and then there was nothing that could drag me away from the book and I was drawn into the characters’ lives.
The story is split into four parts and each part is told from a different point of view. This was not a bad idea, though it was also a bit risky – in my opinion, of course – because Marianne and her long, long story was the first one to be told. As I’ve just mentioned, I had problems with this character, with some of her decisions and I was getting frustrated and scared by the end of part one – scared that I’ll have to give up. For me, the real rollercoaster started with Helen and her story. Helen was probably the most interesting and compelling character in this book for me, she had something to tell, something to hide, the way she was was absolutely intriguing – she has saved the book for me.
Erin Kelly has brilliantly captured the atmosphere of the abandoned hospital. Creepy and dark, it gave me chills, and not only when it was abandoned, oh no, but especially when there were still patients and this setting of the mental hospital worked really well as a backdrop to the characters.
I’ve only read “He Said/She Said” by this author before and it blew my mind to be honest, so I was expecting something like this book again, and it took me by surprise as “Stone Mothers” was totally different. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad, of course. What is the same though is the brilliant writing style, so chilling, intense and intelligent, and the way Erin Kelly creates her characters and writes a character – driven drama.There were turns, twists and events that made my heart stop for a beat, guys. Not many of them but when they came, they were so well crafted, they were absolutely unexpected and unsettling.
This novel has a complex, complicated storyline and it took its time to eventually untangle all the secrets and Erin Kelly is a very skilful writer, with her beautiful prose and the way with words. “Stone Mothers” touched upon many issues, mental health being only one of them. There were lies that tied the characters together, secrets and blackmail, coming of age, poverty and revenge. It was also about women and concern about their mental health, their freedom and their choices. In the end, I’ve learnt to appreciate the long haul and the mystery was very well written, the way it evolved was complex and captivating. It was powerful and it was touching and I really enjoyed it. Recommended!