When I heard that Jenny was organising a blog tour for Ann Troup’s new book, I didn’t need prodding twice. Her last book, The Lost Child, has been languishing on my kindle since I bought it on release, and being part of a tour is a great way of making sure I actually read an author’s books rather than simply adding them to my collection. The Silent Girls was published for kindle on 18th February by Carina UK, and I’m really pleased I’ve finally discovered Ann as a writer. She’s good. No actually, she’s very good – this was a read I really did enjoy.
I’m going to be honest though and say that – after being hooked by the striking prologue and its vivid images, and for just the first few chapters – I did think I was going to struggle a little. My vocabulary is usually pretty good, but I stumbled over a few words I didn’t recognise – “desuetude”, anyone? – and it broke my flow a little. But I really needn’t have worried – by 10% in, the story had gripped me. And I must say, it’s an excellent story, really well told.
Edie arrives in Coronation Square to clear out the house of her aunt, who has recently died – alone, despite the close community that still inhabits the square. The square has gone downhill a bit since Edie lived there – I guess places do when they’ve been the setting for multiple killings of young girls, now the subject of murder tours, and the place is now rather squalid and seedy, inhabited by prostitutes plying their trade, drug takers and gangs. Edie’s wonderful – so out of place, but rediscovering friends and neighbours from her youth, and forming a lovely alliance with young homeless Sophie, as they clear the house together and uncover rather more than either of them expected.
The characterisation in this book is really excellent. I liked Edie, but I really loved Sophie – she comes so vividly alive, immensely likeable, shot through with wonderful funny observations and comments. Others sprang to life from the pages too. Lena Campion is a quite wonderful East End matriarch of the old school, kettle constantly on the boil, hooked on tv soaps, turning a blind eye to whatever it is her family might be up to. And Matthew – great character, and even better when he’s encountered Sophie and they can spark off each other. Even some of the minor characters – the villains may be caricatures, even cartoon-like to some extent, but they’re brilliantly drawn.
The setting is excellent – the square itself is now familiar in every detail, so well described. And Number 17 – the house Edie and Sophie are clearing – is even better. I loved the description of the uncle’s room and the perfect automata on the shelves, the squalid kitchen, the aunt’s bedroom with its floating hair from the wigs she made. And some wonderful images – the wig blocks were in my nightmares the night I read that part of the book.
Once the scene and characters are established, the story takes off at breakneck speed, twisting and turning with present day issues and uncovered secrets from the past, with red herrings galore and parts where you have your heart in your mouth. And when the full truth finally emerges – well, it shocked me anyway, and wasn’t at all what I was expecting. I did hit another small stumbling point towards the end – the reproduction of the speech of one of the characters jarred a little, but can easily be forgiven. And that ending – tying up a few remaining loose ends – was quite perfect, and really made me smile, very cleverly done.
My thanks to the author and Jenny Marston for providing my e-copy for review.
About Ann Troup:
Ann Troup tells tales and can always make something out of nothing (which means she writes books and can create unique things from stuff other people might not glance twice at). She was once awarded 11 out of 10 for a piece of poetry at school – she now holds that teacher entirely responsible for her inclination to write.