Rachel and her daughter Mia have never had secrets. Until now. Lily is missing. She’s somewhere she shouldn’t be – with him. Mia worries for her best friend. But she feels betrayed. In the middle of a stifling heatwave, somebody knows more than they’re letting on. Rachel, Lily and Mia stand on the edge of irrevocable change. Soon, just one burning question will remain… how could they let things go this far?
I didn’t mean to read it all in one sitting but I couldn’t help myself, it was so good.
From the very first sentence, the first page, I could not put it down, I wanted to know where Lily was, but more importantly I was intrigued by teacher and mother Rachel.
She was our narrator, and from the outset I just knew something didn’t fit, there was a niggle in the back of my mind that maybe she wasn’t honest with us and those around her.
She was Mum to Mia, a single child, adored, cosseted and loved, husband Tim absent due to work. Yes Rachel was a good Mum, a good teacher, yet she was very much full on, lonely, lost, wracked with anguish as she watched Mia grow up, need her less, pull away to live her own life. Maybe if Tim had been there he would have diluted the situation, provided the balance that she needed rather than push her into situations that Barkworth fully exploited with wonderful success.
As the hunt for Lily intensified Barkworth pushed Rachel closer and closer to the edge, yet there was restraint, the need to protect Mia at all costs. Was she right or should she had said something? I was torn, I could see both points of view, and I erred on the side of honesty and transparency. It was what made this novel so damn good, the dilemma Barkworth posed, the feeling of losing your child, that dread of the empty nest and how far you would go to protect your child.
When anyone disappears there is always that urgency, to collect information, and ultimately to find them as quickly as possible and Barkworth’s narrative perfectly matched that. The sentences were short, punchy, economical, nothing wasted, the information, feelings, actions, events thrown out there. It was intense, but utterly compelling and immersive. The insertion of what Lily might be going through, were timely and
I didn’t think Barkworth could increase the intensity any more but she did, the latter pages a maelstrom of emotion and revelations. I was exhausted when I finally read the final sentence, sleep took sometime as I needed to climb down from an adrenaline fuelled high.
Heat Stroke was just superb, an amazing debut novel.
I would like to thank Headline for a copy of Heat Stroke to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
HAZEL BARKWORTH grew up in Stirlingshire and North Yorkshire before studying English at Oxford. She then moved to London where she spent her days working as a cultural consultant, and her nights dancing in a pop band at glam rock clubs. Hazel is a graduate of both the Oxford University MSt in Creative Writing and the Curtis Brown Creative Novel-Writing course. She now works in Oxford, where she lives with her partner. HEATSTROKE is her first novel.