I don’t often visit my nearest library, but last time I did I came out with this book, which I managed to get round to reading last weekend.
Overall, it was a highly impressive read. It is sophisticated, thoughtfully written, and creates an intriguing mystery. Sanjida Kay makes very good use of its rural setting, and has clearly done a good job on researching topics such as abstract art, herbal poisons, and missing persons inquiries.
The opening part of the novel takes a fairly slow pace, but this is probably where the story is at its most refined. It does not go rushing into things – instead Kay almost introduces all of the characters, and then builds a tension-filled plot around them.
Once the main event of the book takes place and the list of suspects is presented, the story keeps you guessing, and should you decide to read this book you may be genuinely surprised by the ending. It is a solid four stars out of five.
What is it about?
Narrator Zoe Morley and her husband Ollie have an adopted daughter called Evie, and a young son named Ben. They live a mostly comfortable and happy life, but then Evie begins to receive gifts from somebody purporting to be her real father.
Zoe is an artist whose work is inspired by the nearby moor, and she befriends a man who claims to have have followed her work closely, and her relationship with Ollie becomes strained due to his long working hours and lack of family commitments. Evie’s increasing desire to know her real parents only make matters worse.
Then one day, after Ben is rushed to hospital, Evie goes missing, beginning a nationwide appeal which puts both Zoe and Ollie under suspicion from the police, as well as all of the people they thought they could trust. After a several dead-ends are reached, Zoe’s determination finally uncovers what really happened to her adopted daughter.
Sanjida Kay has had a varied career, both in writing and in general media. She is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, but in the last few years has begun writing psychological thrillers. The Stolen Child is her second thriller. Her next one, My Mother’s Secret, comes out in May 2018.
With a PhD in zoology, she presents wildlife programmes for the BBC in addition to being an author. She lives in Bristol (hooray!), with her husband and daughter.
The Stolen Child is a very thoughtfully written book which Kay unravels with great care and attention. It is not flawless – not all of the protagonists are especially likeable, and the overhanging question of the novel goes unanswered – but it is definitely a book I very much enjoyed reading.
For that reason, Kay’s other thrillers are heading on to my TBR list. Some parts of The Stolen Child are told beautifully, with eloquence and clarity, and I would like to see more of that through her other work. Just leave out the strange rants about Tesco Granola next time!