How far would you go for the perfect family?
When Christopher Harris climbs into his family’s dusty attic, he finds a battered old suitcase containing a letter. Inside the letter is a secret; a secret about his mother that changes everything.
Every mother loves their child. Every child deserves to be loved. But Christopher has grown up so lonely it hurts.
Finally, Christopher thinks he has a chance at happiness. A happiness he will do anything to protect, whatever the cost…
An unputdownable thriller about the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, Mother will hold you breathless until the very last page and leave you reeling. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Sister and Apple Tree Yard.
Mother was published on the 22nd November 2017 by Bookouture. Many thanks to Bookouture for having me on the blog tour and providing me with my copy of the book via NetGalley for this review.
I am thrilled to be on this blog tour and for having the opportunity to read Mother ahead of its publication date. I absolutely loved S E Lynes first book Valentina (which was published by Blackbird Digital Books in July 2016) so I was so excited to discover that Mother was being published (this time, by Bookouture) which is also being followed by two further books in 2018…excited much!!!
Valentina was one of my favourite books in 2016, it was a very strong and complex debut which I found difficult to put into words for my review – I am overjoyed that Mother follows its predecessor brilliantly, Lynes writing and story creation is actually even better. Valentina is brilliant but Mother is amazing (high hopes for the next two books! 🙂 )
Mother is set in the early 1980’s and opens with a disturbing prologue which is both violent and full of remorse. This prologue starts the book as it means to go on – Lynes language is brilliant in conveying the emotions of the murderer as well as the sights and sounds of the murder scene. This writing style continues throughout the book really bringing to life the characters and locations.
Mother is told from the perspective of an unknown narrator who is sharing Christopher’s story. Christopher found out that he was adopted the day that he was leaving for university following the discovery of a letter. This turns his world upside down but also puts some pieces into place as he has always felt different from his parents and siblings. Christopher heads off to university without so much as a backwards glance to the people who raised him for the last 18 years, determined to set up a new life for himself and to find his birth mother.
At university Christopher meets Adam who helps with changing Christopher, helping him find his identity and looking less like his mother had dressed him! Christopher grows up fast in these first few months at university! I really liked Adam’s character (other than his womanising ways however what people see is who Adam is and that has to be admired!), he looks out for Christopher from the get-go. He can see that Christopher is painfully shy and has lived a sheltered life so he encourages him to put himself out there. Adam has Christopher’s best interests at heart from the start and is practically the brother that Christopher needs.
When Christopher meets his real mother, Phyllis, he gets attached very quickly and comes somewhat obsessed with her, he doesn’t want to share her with anyone including her husband and other children. Whilst Christopher enjoys being part of a family unit, he also is a bit bitter about having to share his mother’s company. He is so protective over his relationship with Phyllis that he doesn’t actually tell his adoptive parents that he has found her, instead avoids spending any time with them in order to spend more with Phyllis (which is actually heartbreaking reading when you consider his adoptive family’s feelings).
For the first half of the book I had absolutely no idea what it was building up to however I loved it, I was absolutely fascinated by Christopher and his approach to things and other people. But the second half, WOW!!, it really ramps up and I couldn’t get to the end quick enough (but I was sad when I finished it).
What I also thoroughly enjoyed about Mother was the setting, both in terms of time and location with the backdrop of the murders by the Yorkshire Ripper – Christopher is at university during the time that some of the murders of young women are taking place. This is well researched and Lynes, alongside Christopher’s story, demonstrates the terror that was within the community, especially amongst the young women who felt in danger after nightfall. This really added to the tension and intrigue of the book.
Mother is an extremely powerful book utilising the subjects of adoption, family, serial killers and obsession to build a fantastically chilling psychological thriller.
A massive 5 stars from me, I highly recommend this book!
After graduating from Leeds University, S E Lynes lived in London before moving to Aberdeen to be with her husband. In Aberdeen, she worked as a producer at BBC Radio Scotland before moving with her husband and two young children to Rome. There, she began to write while her children attended nursery. After the birth of her third child and upon her return to the UK, she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University. She now combines writing with lecturing at Richmond Adult Community College and bringing up her three children. She lives in Teddington. Her first novel, Valentina, published by Blackbird Digital Books, came out in July 2016. Her follow up novel, Mother, is published by Bookouture.