The Other Daughter
Author: Shalini Boland
Publication Date: November 5th 2019
Format: Arc from Netgalley
Nine years ago her daughter was taken. And now she’s back.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Holly is playing happily in a pink plastic playhouse, while her mother Rachel sips coffee and chats with a friend nearby. It should be an ordinary day for all of them. But, in the blink of an eye, it turns into every family’s worst nightmare.
Holly is taken by a stranger and never found.
Nine years later, Rachel is living a quiet life in Dorset. She’s tried to keep things together since the traumatic day when she lost her eldest daughter. She has a new family, a loving partner and her secrets are locked away in her painful past.
Until one afternoon when Rachel meets a new school parent Kate and her teenage daughter Bella. Rachel’s world is instantly turned upside down – she’s seen Bella before. She’d recognise that face anywhere – it’s her missing child.
And she will stop at nothing to get her back…
From the million-copy-bestselling author of The Secret Mother and The Perfect Family, this utterly gripping psychological thriller will have you up all night reading.
Shalini Boland is a new author for me. This was my first taste of the maniacal web of deceit, heartbreak and the pure brain twisters that she is able write. I felt honoured to be accepted for this ARC and my was I in for a treat. After finishing this book, I immediately jumped onto goodreads and added the rest of the thrillers she has penned straight onto my TBR. I really try to go into each book without any outrageous expectations, but I had a feeling that this was going to deliver and deliver wholeheartedly. Fortunately, I hit the nail on the head. This woman has the ability to invoke the fear, to invoke the cold sweats when you’re waiting for the truth to will out. She knows how to invoke it all!
What would you do if your two-year-old daughter was stolen from a play area in a shopping centre? Now as a mother of three boys this is the scenario that kills me. It isn’t the fear of a crazy psychopath on the loose or monsters under the bed. It’s the fear of losing your child, someone taking them and having thoughts constantly that they could be dead or being used by unsavoury characters. That they are at harm and as a parent you can’t protect them. Just how extreme must the guilt be? How much must that tear you open and leave you bleeding the entire time they are apart from you. The moment you hold that tiny vulnerable baby in your arms – the maternal instinct kicks in and you vow to never let anyone hurt them. How must that feel that those vows you made to your tiny person mattered not a jot. Someone still came into your life and ruined completely by taking the one person you would die for?
Rachel has lived through such trauma. Her daughter was abducted in a shopping centre nine years ago. The guilt and grief could have consumed her, but she still had a baby to care for, so she vowed to try and keep on living for her, baby Jess. Her marriage broke down, her husband Andrew left to be with his new girlfriend in Spain. She was all alone until she met now boyfriend, Matt. Slowly she rebuilds her life in Dorset and has another baby, a boy but she never forgets the pain of never seeing her little girl, Holly again. Rachel is strong, but pain and grief are never far behind. The brain is an amazing organ and is capable of incredible deeds to protect the human body from further suffering. It’s definitely her vulnerability that makes her such a relatable character and she’s immediately likeable. Life has improved remarkably and she’s doing more than just surviving now, she’s living. All until the mysterious Kate and her family move into the village. Nobody unsettles her more than their daughter, Bella.
Rachel is driven to unnecessary and borderline unhinged behaviour towards Kate and her family. The daughter reminds her so much of her missing daughter. The colour of her eyes, the shape of her face, her hair colouring. She vows to find out everything she can about this family. She is OBSESSED. She’s never been surer about anything in her life. She has to own up to her boyfriend about a secret, will this push them closer together or further apart? The author pushes the realms of possibility and how far the human psyche can be pushed when trauma is cracked open once again. When that itch is scratched raw what can be done to stem the bleeding? I found myself in rapt attention, it was heart-breaking, it was cringey, but I was totally here for it. My heart ached for Rachels pain and suffering, can we wish for something to just be true if we just believe hard enough?
Some of Rachels decisions at the very least were misjudged. She was losing her mind. Every little decision that she kept from her family was tearing them apart. The strong relationship she had with her boyfriend was dwindling by the day. She just couldn’t see it. She couldn’t see anything other than her obsession with this family. Will the pain and anguish be worth it for everyone?
Wow what a ride! Shalini excelled at writing a story that would be everyone’s relatable nightmare. The build-up, the character arcs – the fooking twist blew me away! The dual POV of Now and Then (Rachel and Catherine) was so utterly sublime. The way you witnessed the decline of mental health was exceptional. The effect it had on both families, the misunderstandings, the love, the brokenness. This gave me all the feels! We often see the news headlines about children being abducted and we immediately develop judgements. This was a well-constructed, complex tale of both sides. Are those judgements warranted or is there two sides to every story?