The Lost Child by Ann Troup

Title - The Lost Child
Author - Ann Troup
Publication Date - May 19th 2015
Publisher - Carina
Format - Kindle Edition 
Pages - 311

Mandy Miller disappeared from Hallow's End when she was just 3 years old. She was never found.

Thirty years on, Elaine Ellis is carrying her mother's ashes back to Hallow's End to scatter them in the place that she once called home. Elaine has never been there, but it's the only place Jean talked about while she was growing up - so it seems as good a place as any.

As Elaine settles into her holiday cottage in the peaceful Devonshire village, she gets to know the locals; family she never knew she had, eccentric and old-fashioned gentry, and new friends where she would least expect them. But she is intrigued by the tale of the missing girl that the village still carries at its heart, and which somehow continues to overshadow them all. Little does she know how much more involved in the mystery she will become...

Well, well, well.
I finished The Lost Child by Ann Troup late last night, while tossing and turning in bed and fighting against sleep because I just couldn't bring myself to end the day without reaching the end of this novel first. I am so impressed, mightily impressed, so impressed in fact that I really, really, really cannot wait for Ann Troup's second novel. I finished The Lost Child in just over 24 hours, and I can't remember the last time that I read a book so quickly, so fervently, and with so much desperation to figure things out! It's safe to say that I finished my reading of The Lost Child with a huge ball of satisfaction snuggled nicely in my stomach, sort of how I feel after a good dinner, and already I'm eager for more...

First thing's first, Ann Troup can write. I mean, obviously she can write, but I mean she can write! From the very first page of The Lost Child, I felt like I'd been shrouded in a heavy, almost suffocatingly dark atmosphere that followed me, like a ghost, right the way through to the end of this book. I guess having an urn of Elaine's mother's ashes topple over in the boot of her car at the beginning of the novel was something to do with this, but even besides that, Ann Troup's exceptional ability to make me feel like I was suddenly stranded in the middle of a graveyard past midnight utterly blew my mind. It was tense, it was grim, and felt almost Gothic to me in a sense, conjuring up all sorts of images with my over-active imagination. Ann's fantastically vivid and striking imagery continued right the way through the telling of this novel, only ever adding to the eeriness of the tale, increasing the darkness and consuming me entirely. I loved how I felt while reading The Lost Child. I wasn't entirely sure whether I had something to be scared of, but the atmospheres that Ann created so perfectly had me scared anyway. I was intrigued, wrapped up in the mystery and felt as if the words were my own torchlight, allowing me to find a path through the gloom that the author had created for me.

The Lost Child by Ann Troup was absolutely rammed with twists and turns and red-herrings. One minute I thought I had it all worked out and knew where the plot was going, then the next I was left completely bowled over by the crazy turn of events. I adore it when an author can achieve this with a novel, when they have you convinced of one thing, then whip the rug out right from beneath you. Ann did such a tremendous job of leading me through this story, bringing the setting of Hallow's End to life, and the cottage beside Elaine that was shrouded in mystery from the get-go. With the author's descriptions, I felt like I'd stepped back in time and suddenly found myself living in an old black and white photograph. Things such as, 'rickety laundry rack', 'carbolic soap', 'copper jelly moulds' and 'heavy pans hung on butcher's hooks' had my mind conjuring an image of a home that seemed so well suited to place named Hallow's End. It was so dark and tantalisingly teasing, I devoured each and every single page with a fierce hunger.

Ann's characters were superb. As soon as I met Elaine, I was intrigued by her and her not-so-happy history with her mother that was repeatedly hinted towards. It was obvious, from Ann's repetitive mentions of how life had been with Elaine's mother, it hadn't been a childhood full of happy, sun-drenched memories, and immediately I wanted to know why, this need to know urging me onwards and further into the story. Elaine was a character I was very interested in. She seemed to enjoy being alone more than having company, and didn't expect to make friends in Hallow's End either, which is where she ends up in order to scatter her late mother's ashes. Despite Elaine's plans to remain alone and efficient in what she's in Hallow's End to do, she stumbles across a number of characters within the novel who, again, I couldn't wait to learn more about. Each and every one of them, no matter how innocent they appeared to me at first, had an air of secrecy about them that I found utterly compelling. It's fair to say that against the eerie backdrop of Hallow's End, I felt as if I'd walked into some sort of thriller/horror movie, watching each character keenly, to see who'd slip up first. It truly was a thrill-ride of a novel, with dark corners and hidden pasts and the most enthralling plot I've read in quite some time. My only moan is that I waited so long to read it!

Becca's Books is awarding The Lost Child by Ann Troup with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! I really cannot recommend this book enough. It had it all, and I cannot wait to read more from Ann Troup. With such an amazing control over her words and descriptions, and such a fascinating array of characters, Ann quite clearly knows the ingredients of a bloody good novel like the back of her hand. Roll on book number two, I say!



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