★ ★ ★ ★ ★
'Smith is a poet... not a single word is wasted – his prose is direct, intimate and immediate.'
The Book Bag
'The writing was mesmerizing and poetic, and the characters felt alive and had great depth to them... the atmosphere dragged you into a dark and mysterious world of half-forgotten memories. I loved the feeling Imogen added to the novel, with her secretive and fleeting manner, and the fragmented way in which the story was told… As soon as I’d finished it, I wanted to start over and search the memories for more hidden clues and meanings. I wanted to know Isabel even better, and to experience the writing once more.'
Silke Wadskjaer Mølgaard
'Smith is a poet whose skills are smartly showcased in Isabel’s vivid childhood memories, brightly sketched word pictures around which he structures his novel… No slouch at suspense, Smith is adept at pulling the rug from under his reader’s feet… Overall, it’s a gripping narrative, a smart and pacy literary thriller which explores the indelible scars of loss.'
A Life In Books
Isabel Sykes, 23, recounts the recent attempt she made to come to terms with the loss of her mother, the acclaimed but psychologically disturbed novelist Marianne Sykes. Marianne died in an unexplained house fire when Isabel was ten.
Inspired by the appearance of Imogen Taylor, an enchanting young woman who wants to write a PhD on her mother’s work, Isabel plunges into the depths of her past and an intense new friendship. After discovering that Imogen is not who she seems to be, Isabel must face the darkest moments from her childhood in order to protect her family from more tragedy.
She receives unexpected help from beyond the grave: in the strange, glittering fragments of her mother’s last, unfinished work, ‘Midnightsong’.
Inside my holdall was a small silver torch. I took it out, flashed it around the room. Then I crept to the door, turned the handle slowly, stepped out onto the landing.
The torch light fell on a blue china vase that seemed about to tremble and break. Brightly coloured objects proliferated under the spotlight, as it wrapped around corners and alcoves. I felt sure that I had not seen many of them before, but now they seemed to jostle for my attention. I stopped at the end of the landing, shone the beam into a black bowl. Made, I thought, of the night outside the window. A running sheen swept around the depth of it as I moved my arm. Then, remembering why I was there, I turned the beam downstairs and lowered my feet to the base of each step.
I intended to search through the rubbish for the dress. Maybe my mother had pushed it as far down as she could, out of sight but not out of reach. I would find it. I pictured the mess, holding my breath, peeling plastic wrappers away from the fabric, bits of food. Then I planned to take the hand wash liquid from under the sink, that I had seen my mother use, climb on a chair and soak the dress till it was clean.
The torch light penetrated the hall and found the dustbin in the kitchen. I switched it off. The darkness protected me now. It contained some light that traced the kitchen doorway.
As I approached the dustbin, my mother spoke to me.
I stopped moving. Her voice was soft and seemed to carry directly into my ear.
I turned round.
She was sitting in the corner, head and shoulders in shadow, legs folded in a wash of moonlight. Her raised foot was half-submerged in the dark, anklebone gleaming.