Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.
Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks -but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.
Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives…
The July Girls was published on the 25th July 2019 by Wildfire. Many thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book for this review.
The July Girls is set in Brixton, London featuring real life events that have caused terror within the capital including the 7/7 bombings on the London Underground and the riots of 2011. These real-life events are effortlessly interwoven into the story of Addison ‘Addie’ Knight and her older sister, Jessie.
Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London. Despite the date, there are no other connections between the women so the police are unable to track down the kidnapper, to a point that they are almost waiting for another one to be taken, hoping that mistakes are made. I was immediately hooked by this brief description alone, intrigued by when and how the women were taken and by whom.
Addie literally worships the ground that Jessie walks on and trusts her implicitly, Jessie has raised Addie since their mother left when Addie was very young. They both live in a rundown flat with their father, Paul. Paul is a bit shifty and has a reputation that proceeds him at certain local pubs…however his girls love him, whilst he may not have been successful, he has tried his best with Jessie and Addie in the absence of their mother.
The 7/7 bombings not only change the lives of hundreds of people, Addie’s life and everything she believes in comes into question. The 7th July is Addie’s 10th birthday and she is looking forward to a celebratory treat with her sister however Jessie doesn’t arrive at school leaving Addie to walk home and be in the flat all alone for hours during the immediate aftermath of the bombings. When Jessie and Paul return home, something seems off and Addie is concerned that her father has blood on his clothes. However, he comes under the suspicion of something more sinister when a woman’s purse is found amongst his belongings…a woman who has not been seen since that fateful day.
The July Girls is told through Addie’s eyes so an unrealiable narrator who is only seeing one perspective of what’s happening…just fab! I loved how Addie’s ‘voice’ changed as she got older, it was very believable that the story started being told by a 9-year-old and I enjoyed the naivety that Addie brought to what is a chilling thriller. With the benefit of experience, the reader is able to read between the lines of some of Addie’s narrative which made it all the more tense!
In addition to the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the women, The July Girls is also an exploration into family dynamics and loyalty. Throughout the book, particularly with the young Addie, we see that she has doubts about what she is told but trusts her family implicitly because they are just that, family.
I found The July Girls a very engaging read, wondering where the narrative was going to take its reader. I really enjoyed the realism that the backdrop of real events gave the book, which were used incredibly well and complimented the fictional side of the book.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its multiple layers, timelines and wonderful narrative from Addie. A fantastic read and one of my favourites for 2019!
Phoebe Locke is the pseudonym of full-time writer Nicci Cloke. She previously worked at the Faber Academy, and hosted London literary salon Speakeasy. Nicci has had two literary novels published by Fourth Estate and Cape, and also writes YA for Hot Key Books. She lives and writes in Cambridgeshire. The July Girls follows Phoebe Locke’s debut thriller The Tall Man.