Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Reviewed: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica







Pretty Baby was published by Mira on August 13, 2015.


Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.



Pretty Baby is an excellently written psychological thriller that really got under my skin – I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since I finished reading. Heidi is a charitable woman and so when a homeless girl struggling to care for her baby catches her eye, she can’t stop herself from stepping in and trying to help. I felt like Heidi had a caring personality but I found her to be a bit unnerving – it felt pretty weird how she was always on the lookout for this young mother and her baby, how she couldn’t settle until she spotted them. So when she approaches the girl one day, Willow, I was apprehensive about what was to follow. This is where the book surprised me because it took a whole different direction to what I had been anticipating. Willow is a mysterious character. She feels very fragile and sheltered from real life, despite having a baby in tow. Things didn’t exactly add up with Willow and I found myself keen to learn more about the person she truly was.

The pacing of Pretty Baby is pretty slow. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just took me a bit longer to get used to although there does seem to be a trend with me and psychological thrillers at the moment in that I’m always desperate for them to hit me a bit more, to get going a bit quicker. However, having said that, I soon discovered that the beauty of this book actually was with the pace. It was the pace which made this story so powerful. The pace allowed the overwhelming sadness contained within this story to really get into my mind and make my skin crawl. Pretty Baby was shocking in its subtlety and every twist, every new piece of information struck me more that way, adding to the intrigue and the real haunting nature of the story.

The story is told through three perspectives – Heidi, her husband Chris and Willow. I felt like I was kind of following the story at the same time as Chris. His part seemed to be there to put thoughts into the reader’s mind and get them considering what was happening between Heidi and Willow. I know that’s at least how it worked for me. Every time Chris had a doubt or a concern over their strange relationship, the same thought entered my mind too and his character, to me, was most useful at getting my mind working and trying to delve further into the characters of Heidi and Willow. I won’t say I felt like he played a hugely important part in the actually story but without hearing his perspective, I’m not sure the book would have got under my skin as much as it did.

As for Willow and Heidi, I thought the author’s character development was extraordinarily good. Willow had an intense story to tell and her side to this book went back in time, bringing us up to speed with her life to the day Heidi first approached her. There were so many layers to Willow’s character, I was mesmerised with every little detail and wondering what else we could possibly find out. Heidi’s side of the story was equally fascinating. I didn’t ever know what was to come from Heidi and that added to the tension in the story, which kept building and building. The brilliant character development was probably the highlight of this book for me.

Although I can’t quite work out why, I did have a slight issue with Pretty Baby which was that I found it almost too uncomfortable to read at times. I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced that with a book before but there were some parts I really didn’t like reading, maybe because it was a realistically written story and none of the scenarios in this book were things you’d want to hear about in real life. Mostly with psychological thrillers, I do enjoy them the more twisted they are but I think Pretty Baby being so understated just got to me more. Despite that, it was still a highly compelling story and whilst I was fascinated from page one, towards the end this book was all I could think about. It was fantastically well-drawn and full of twists that kept on surprising me. Pretty Baby is a really absorbing story that drags you in and consumes you – pure unforgettable reading.


Uncomfortable, unsettling and yet completely compelling







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