Monday, 30 October 2017
The Winter's Child by Cassandra Parkin (Blog Tour)
The Winter's Child by Cassandra Parkin (Legend Press) is a dark contemporary tale of love and grief.
Susannah Harper's son Joel went missing five years ago, without trace. Her whole world collapses, and she becomes obsessed with finding her son's fate. To help herself, she starts writing a blog which is her way of coping with the horrible reality.
Her husband leaves her, and she is trying to rebuild her life and piece together the truth.
On the last night of the Hull Fair she visits a fortune-teller who tells her that her son Joel will come back to her on Christmas eve.
This episode made me think of my own visit to the fortune-teller at the Oxford Fair over 20 years ago. It was an interesting experience.
Susannah is not a likeable character. As much as you sympathise with her tragedy, there is something disturbing about her.
The story goes back in time to the days of Joel's adoption and his childhood, and you can see how her parenting style doesn't help this deeply damaged boy. Joel has complex special needs, and Susannah tries to cocoon him from reality.
There were more than one moment when I could easily identify with her. Due to my older son's special needs, I am an over-protective mother to both of my boys. I'm exactly the same when it comes to building a protective dome around my family, and making my sons the centre of my universe.
Yet Susannah is smothering her son. She is finding excuses for all the wrongs her son does, and doesn't accept her own culpability. Effectively she disarms her son rather than helps him. And Joel is a very challenging boy, as many children with special needs are.
Susannah writes her confessional blog, and has a strange fascination with psychics. On one hand, she hopes to find the truth about her son's whereabouts with the help of psychics, spending a fortune, on the other hand, she tries to expose them as charlatans. She seems not quite know which is true.
She befriends a mother of another missing boy. Jackie comes from a totally different background, and she is not portrayed too sympathetically either. The only thing these women have in common is their missing boys. Susannah's privileged background allows her to live on her own in a big house, she doesn't work and clearly has means to support herself and pay for psychics.
Yet both Susannah and chavvy Jackie are vulnerable, and their pain is intolerable.
Susannah is slowly losing her marbles. She sees her phantom Joel in the crowd, she has visions or hallucinations of being drowned in the mud, she hurts herself without realising it and blames her ex-husband for the injury. She is a woman possessed.
Without giving away spoilers, I found the ending not very credible. Also her affair with someone in the position of trust who should have known better is not entirely convincing.
It is a gripping read, but very uncomfortable, chilling and emotionally-draining.
Disclosure: I received a free e-copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing. All opinions are mine.