Tuesday 14 February 2017

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

Published by W&N on February 9, 2017

Under the Harrow was one of those books that had me refusing to sleep until I found out who, and why. The mystery was hugely compelling and the author writes intrigue and suspense so beautifully that I couldn’t wait to delve deeper into the dark layers of her novel. This book had me hooked from page one as I was drawn into the haunting, atmospheric writing and eager to discover the story of Nora and her now murdered sister.

Nora is paying her sister a visit but as she gets to her home, she discovers she has been brutally stabbed eleven times and murdered. Of course, she’s not content with the police investigation as to Rachel’s murder and so she attempts to uncover the culprit herself. The only clue Nora has to begin with is that many years ago, her sister was attacked. But as the story develops, there are many more clues and red herrings along the way as Nora discovers that the sister she had was not entirely the sister she knew.

From the beginning, I loved this book. I loved how the story was narrated and I loved following Nora’s thought processes throughout as she attempts to solve the mystery of her sister’s death. That’s not to say Nora was an easy character to understand though, and at times I was a bit confused by her. I couldn’t always work out where she was at or what or who she was thinking about. In the middle section of the book especially, things would quickly change from the present day to Nora recalling another Rachel memory and so it did take a little bit of work to keep up with.

This style of writing had my suspicions all over the place, as I thought I had Rachel’s murderer picked out early on but then I couldn’t stop changing my mind. I was suspicious of almost everybody at some point and didn’t guess anywhere near correctly the true extent of what had happened. For me, Under the Harrow definitely had a great shock factor without it appearing forced or contrived. I’d find myself so settled into the story I was convinced I knew where things were going and then a twist weaved its way into the plot and completely changed everything I thought I knew. I loved this aspect to the book as it had me really engrossed in the story and paying attention to all the little details to see if I could work out who had really murdered Rachel.

Under the Harrow is a book about secrets and obsession. It’s fascinating to read and extremely atmospheric in its prose. Nora’s narration is very gripping, as is the change in her character. From the moment she discovers Rachel is dead, her thoughts turn to solving the mystery until it is all she can think about. She becomes obsessive and fixated on certain people in particular, veering on the edge of stalking and harassing them. I was always wondering what lengths she would go to, and how she would handle things, and I couldn’t wait to see what was to come next. I found Under the Harrow to be a haunting and chilling book with a great ending that really did the story justice.

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