Friday, 12 August 2016

Book Review: ONLY DAUGHTER by Anna Snoekstra

Only Daughter

 Only Daughter
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Publisher: Harlequin Australia, MIRA
Read: August 2016
Expected publication: 20 September 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She'd been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast-food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen—blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched—though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec's life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends' names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec's welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter—and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger. 

My thoughts:

I thought that the premise of Only Daughter was brilliant and chilling and appealed to me straight away. A young homeless woman, about to be arrested for shoplifting food, pretends to be Rebecca Winter, who went missing 11 years ago from her family home, to escape police custody. Soon she is living comfortably in Rebecca’s house, her homecoming celebrated by Bec’s family and friends who all seem to believe her lie. But little does she know that the people who were after Rebecca all those years ago are now on the hunt for her ...

Whilst the story had so much potential, unfortunately its execution did not work well for me, mainly due to the character of the unnamed woman pretending to be Bec, who remained a rather wooden and unlikeable character throughout the story. There were many moments of having to suspend disbelief over the ways she avoids the detective investigating her case, to a point of several eye-rolls on my part. If it was that easy to take on someone’s identity, I am sure more people would do it! I would have given up on the book completely if the real teenage Bec had not come into the story at this point to tell the events leading up to her disappearance, and I liked her character so much more. Suddenly the story sprang to life, and its real mystery unfolded. From that moment on, there was a steady building of tension as the young Rebecca realises that something is very wrong in her house, and strange things start happening to her. The author does well to create a dark chilling atmosphere and real sense of danger at this point, which got my attention and finally hooked me. Whilst I saw the ending coming, there was still an element of shock simply due to the nature of the crime and the identity of the perpetrator. However, I felt that the ending did not fully satisfy my need for explanation and tying up all the loose ends, which was again lost potential.

All in all: a brilliant concept, but the characters and plot needed fleshing out a bit more, and I would have loved to delve into the psyche of the more disturbed minds appearing in the story (of which there were many). Which could have made Only Daughter an original as well as unforgettable read.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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