Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Fans of old-fashioned gothics will welcome this tale of love, betrayal and death from British author Leroy (The River House). At first glance, Grace, a single mom, and Sylvie, her bright, lovely child, have a simple, happy life. Though Grace struggles to make ends meet, all is well until Sylvie begins to act out at preschool and with playmates. She has tantrums, makes odd remarks and has an extreme fear of water. As Sylvie's behavior worsens, Grace is at a loss to explain her daughter's outbursts. She seeks help, only to find herself and their "lifestyle" to blame. When Sylvie recalls what seem to be past-life experiences, Grace looks up a university professor who's studied the paranormal in the hope he can resolve Sylvie's increasingly erratic behavior. Heavy with atmosphere and rich in detail, Leroy's prose lures readers into a disturbing murder mystery. Her characters are as realistic and intriguing as her locales in England and Ireland. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-Single mother Grace dotes on four-year-old Sylvie. However, the child's behavioral issues, such as her intense fear of water, screaming fits, night terrors, and unusual social responses, are getting worse. After a meltdown causes Sylvie to get kicked out of her preschool, Grace doesn't know where to turn, until she reads about Adam Winters and the Psychic Institute in a magazine. Adam is a researcher who, among other things, studies troubled children to see if they are experiencing traumas from a past life. Using clues Sylvie has given her-a picture of a coastal Irish town, her fear of water-Adam and Grace manage to find out what may be the source of Sylvie's troubles. Despite a ghostly feel, the book isn't scary so much as mysterious in the way of old gothics like those of Victoria Holt. It unfolds slowly, but somewhat predictably, just like life in the Irish seaside setting. There is quite a bit of suspension of disbelief, much of it based on handy coincidences rather than the past-life angle. However, those who like Victorian gothics will enjoy getting to know Sylvie and Grace.-Jamie Watson, Harford County Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Leroy (The River House, 2005, etc.), who specializes in delineating the lives of unhappy, not entirely likable British women, describes a young single mother whose child-rearing problems defy mere psychology. Thanks to an affair with a married man several years earlier, narrator Grace is now raising preschooler Sylvie on her own. A beautiful child, Sylvie has a number of quirks. She has always called Grace by her first name. She is intensely afraid of water. Lately she has been upsetting her best friend Lennie by saying the little girl isn't the real Lennie. She sleeps with a photograph of an Irish coastal town she claims is her real home. Her obstinacy and fears increase, causing uncontrollable tantrums and moments of rage. Soon her preschool expels Sylvie. Lennie's mother Karen, Grace's only friend, suggests that Sylvie needs a therapist. Instead Grace seeks out Adam Winters, an academic researcher of the paranormal. Until Adam's arrival, the novel is an ambitiously queasy character study of Grace: protective of her child but also defensive, still obsessed with her ex-lover and envious of Karen's more comfortable, settled life. Adam introduces parapsychology as an improved alternative to bland mainstream solutions. Grace's early distrust of Adam quickly gives way, in part because she finds him attractive but also because she is moved when he describes his older brother's death while they were stealing a car together as teens and his brother's ghostly return. The possibility that telling such a story to a client may be inappropriate does not enter into this novel's Gothic worldview any more than the questionable ethics of Adam and Grace's growing romantic involvement. Grace, Sylvie and Adam head to the Irish village depicted in Sylvie's photo and ferret out her former life. Seven years ago, nine-year-old Jessica (now Sylvie) and her mother were murdered. The murderer is still at large, though not for long. Leroy's delicate psychological insight falls to pieces under the weight of solving a preposterous murder mystery. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.