#Review: The Elephant Girl by Henriette Gyland @henrigyland @rararesources #blogtour #romanticsuspense

By | July 6, 2022

It’s a real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for The Elephant Girl by Henriette Gyland, independently published as a second edition on 2nd July and available for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading ecopy.

Do you know, it’s really beyond time I read this book – I’ve actually realised an unread copy had been hiding on my kindle since it was first released back in 2013 (sorry Henri!). As always, it’s a particular pleasure to share a review when I’ve spent some time in the author’s company – which I did when I popped into the bar before the RNA Awards this year. I have read and enjoyed one of her books before – Up Close, way back in 2012 – but as I was a touch less assiduous in those days I sadly have no review to share. I had already noticed that she’s also writing as Ella Gyland these days, published by One More Chapter: I very much liked the look of The Helsingør Sewing Club, inspired by the true story of how the people of Denmark saved their Jewish neighbours during WW2 – it’s on my kindle, and I have the audiobook, so I do hope to be able to catch up with it before too long.

But I’ve always particularly enjoyed romantic suspense, and that’s what The Elephant Girl promised to be – so let’s take a closer look…

I think I saw you…


It’s been twenty years, and Helen Stephens has come home to stay. And to get revenge on the person who murdered her mother. If only she knew who it was … But nothing is ever black or white, and when she rents a room in a house full of ex-offenders, the events of that fateful day blur even further, leading her to question her resolve and her memory.


Jason Moody, who runs the half-way house, has his own shame. When he uncovers her intent, he begins to suspect that someone close to him could be involved …


A coincidence? Or is there something else going on?

This book has a rather stunning prologue – set twenty years earlier, written in the present tense – where five year old Helen witnesses the brutal murder of her mother as she sits in the back seat of a car. The alleged murderer, a woman called Fay with a clear motive, is convicted and imprisoned – but Helen’s memories of the actual event are confused, because at the time of the attack she was in the grip of an epileptic fit.

The main story begins twenty years later, as we catch up with Helen living in Goa, visited by a solicitor sent by her grandmother to tell her that Fay has been released from prison – and she returns home with thoughts of revenge. She tracks her down, moving into the halfway house where she lives, while resuming the relationship with the extended family who rejected her as an orphaned child, and slowly begins to uncover the many layers of secrets around her mother’s death.

The halfway house is owned by Jason, who has family problems of his own. His father is a sophisticated thug who tries to control his life, and it soon becomes clear that he also may have some connection with Helen’s family business – an auction house called Ransome and Daughters, where Helen works on her return – and possibly some involvement in her mother’s death.

And it’s never the best idea to try and retell a story, is it, when the author does it so much better? This was a nicely convoluted story really well told, with some unexpectedly sympathetic characters (and a few distinctly unsympathetic ones too), a constant edge of danger, filled with hidden secrets and satisfying twists and turns, and a final outcome (and a climax that had me reading into the early hours…) that I really didn’t see coming. Helen’s side of the story is really well handled – the damage inflicted by the trauma she experienced and being an abandoned child, the way her epilepsy has affected her life, and her own journey as she begins to take charge of her life and ceases to be a victim.

I very much liked Jason too – his frustration at his father’s interference in his life, his growing attraction to Helen even as he uncovers some of her deeper and well-hidden secrets – and their developing romance was one I enjoyed and really believed in. And I particularly enjoyed the well-drawn supporting characters – particularly the other residents in the halfway house (Lee, the mugger, creeping around in the darkness… and the wonderful Charlie), Helen’s grandmother and aunts, and the mysterious Russian uncle (complete with interchangeable accents – loved it!). And the settings are really well done too – the London underbelly, the day-to-day business of the auction house, and a vividly drawn Goa in monsoon season.

This really was my kind of thriller – more than enough blood and guts for the more hardcore reader, a story that repeatedly has you on the edge of your seat, but just the right focus on Helen’s journey of self-discovery and sometimes with slightly softer edges because of the developing romance. While some of its developments might strain credulity just a little – some of the links are perhaps rather more conveniently found than they might be in “real life” – I was entirely caught up from beginning to end in the story, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very much recommended.

About the author


Originally from Denmark, Henriette Gyland (who also writes as Ella Gyland) has lived in London for many years, surrounded by her family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge she tries to create everywhere she goes. As a linguist she loves playing with words and language, and she’s addicted to story-telling. She also believes strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.

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