Book Review: White Lies by Zoe Markham

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Title - White Lies
Author - Zoe Markham
Publication Date - January 18th 2016
Publisher - Carina UK
Format - Kindle Edition (Via Amazon)
Pages - 235

Everybody hurts

For Abigail, a new school could be the fresh start she so desperately needs. With her parents in the army and her sister Beth too far away to run to, she knows this year needs to be different. She's never been part of the cool crowd and for the first time Abby wants to fit in. And all it takes is just one little white lie... because some truths are too painful to share.

Everybody lies

But at Cotswold Community College, Abby isn't the only one with a past she'd rather forget. And when she stumbles across a closely-guarded secret, Abigail realises that her one little white lie could reveal everything she's worked so hard to hide...

If what you're after is a Gothic, darkly thrilling and twisted novel, then White Lies by Zoe Markham could be exactly what you're looking for. I'd been meaning to pick up one of Markham's novels for such a long time and finally got round to doing so. I couldn't wait to begin. I'd seen tons of excellent comments on Twitter and the reviews were fantastic too. As soon as I was able to, I tucked right into it and raced through the pages, barely pausing to take a breath.

White Lies by Zoe Markham follows the story of Abigail (Abby) as she slips into her new boarding school and tries to find her feet in the strange new surroundings. With both parents working away in the army, and big sister Beth away at university, Abby is pretty much alone in her new adventures. And adventures they certainly are, although not of the happy, care-free kind. It is clear, from the get-go, that Abby struggles to fit in, and I could sympathise with this character on so many levels. I've never been one of the "cool kids" myself either, and so I felt that extra bit closer to Abby, which I adore when reading any book. Zoe had skilfully crafted Abigail. Despite trying to remain calm on the surface, the reader was able to see right through her demeanour. Beneath, she was a storm of emotions and uncertainty, and who could blame her, really? Abby was fending for herself from the second she arrived at Cotswold Community College, and for one who doesn't feel they belong, it's a bloody struggle. Zoe put this across fantastically well throughout the novel, so much so that I wanted to step right inside and take sides with Abby, so that she didn't feel so alone.

Sharing a room with three other girls, Abby is pleasantly surprised when they quickly fall into friendly conversation with each other, rather than spiteful glares or glances. That is until Scarlett arrives. Everyone loves Scarlett. She's practically perfect in every way. The boys fall at her feet and all the girls want to be her. And Abby's fine with that. Really, she is. That is until she uncovers a deep, dark secret about Scarlett, and this in turn sets the wheels in motion for ultimate destruction. Markham got the whole "clique" feel of the story absolutely spot-on. When things take a turn for the worst, just when I thought everything was going great for Abby, it's not hard to notice how quickly her new friends take sides. Harsh, snide and cruel, Abby realises that the only person who's got her back is herself, and perhaps a few others, but she's not quite sure just yet... There are secrets everywhere she turns, and who, exactly, is she able to trust?

The atmosphere within White Lies by Zoe Markham was suffocating, overwhelming, claustrophobic even. And the simple fact that the novel is set in a boarding school notched up the creepiness by a million. Alongside spine-tingling ghost stories about the place itself, intriguing strangers and secrets being withheld on all counts, this truly got beneath my skin. And then when the shocking truth was finally revealed, I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. It turned everything I thought I knew about the characters upside down and left me questioning it all. Truly brilliant.

Becca's Books is awarding White Lies by Zoe Markham with four of my bookish stars! Brilliantly developed, with a fantastically curious heroine and a chilling setting, I cannot wait to read more from this author. Markham has a fantastic style, one that I found rather addictive, and one that creeps right into your mind and lingers like fog.


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