The Black Sheep
Author: Sophie McKenzie
Publication Date: February 1st 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life.
Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed. And that her family know more than they say …
Who can Francesca trust? And what will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?
I really had high hopes for this book but it just fell flat for me unfortunately. Black Sheep is focussed around the events and the fallout after Francesca’s husband, Caspian is murdered in an apparently random attack. It deals with the effects within her close-knit Catholic family. Some reasons why it just didn’t work for me;
Flaky Character building.
We meet Francesca, a widowed mother of two. She is attending her deceased husband’s memorial service (he was murdered 16 months ago). She is approached by a stranger that flips her entire world upside down for the second time. The information that she receives from this man is that he had received threatening messages from someone that was close to them both. From this point forward she’s looking for any link to what he has told her, it also seems like since she got this information that everyone is know acting differently around her. She’s chasing ghosts, shadows in order to hold onto the possibility that her husbands murder wasn’t just random.
Her Sister Lucy, is a very nervous, timid character due to an event that happened in her youth. She still lives at home with their father and step-mother (decidedly odd). I found her behaviour to just be weird for someone of her age group and didn’t feel her character really brought any substance to the story.
From the first few chapters I had worked out the endgame of the story. This was despite twists and turns taken within, it just didn’t provide the shock factor that I think the author was looking to portray. The story was often very slow and points and unfortunately, I found myself thinking that I wish I was reading something else. I also think that the author wanted the subject matter to be controversial, maybe even a bit taboo but for me personally it didn’t have that desired effect. But, it could be a trigger novel for many people. I think it just lacked that Punch!
The Writing was disjointed
Although the main character had suffered such incredible loss, I didn’t really feel any real feeling for her. I wasn’t really feeling connected to any of the characters, which is a real pity as the story as a whole had huge potential. The strongest character, from a written perspective was the best friend Ayesha. The other characters just lacked depth. The paragraphs felt repetitive and in places quite contradictory.
Overall, I just think this book promised more than it delivered which is a real shame.