Disclosure: I received a copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
This book was an absolute ripper, and so, so clever.
It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.
The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.
The key to this story’s success is the way in which it is told.
“The book is told backward. After the setup, the story jumps ahead fifteen days and then counts down, day by day, until we reach the beginning again”
Starting two weeks after the disappearance of Annaleise, it works its way backwards until we reach the day she went missing. The mystery of what happened to her, and to Corinne ten years earlier, is unraveled, piece by tantilising piece. This is a compelling read, but not a quick one, as I found myself having to concentrate to connect the dots and pick up all the clues that trailed throughout the backwards chapters.
The story is incredibly engaging, and although none of the main characters were particularly likeable, they all had their part to play in the mystery. That feeling that there was something ‘off’ about them all permeated the narrative. The big reveal at the end tied everything up very neatly, but did leave a sour note. It was this feeling of disappointment and distaste that made me want to go straight back to the beginning and start the book again, now armed with the full knowledge of exactly what was going on. On this point alone, I would say Miranda has a bestseller on her hands.
This novel is Miranda’s debut adult fiction title, and it’s clear that she is at her best writing the teenage characters which normally populate her YA fiction. The intense emotion and romantic tension is thick and palpable during these passages. Generally however, the writing style was nothing remarkable, and there were a couple of repeated analogies that got on my nerves. Despite this, the backwards narrative was more than enough to create suspense and tension. I have a feeling that if the story were told conventionally, it would lose a lot of what makes it special. As it stands, however, the tone of this novel is dark and brooding, with the menacing forest always encroaching on the periphery, almost becoming another character that puts you on edge, right from the start.
The twists and turns, red herrings and dead ends made this novel a memorable one that I would recommend to fans of psychological thrillers.
Megan Miranda’s All the Missing Girls is due for publication June 28th by Simon & Schuster.