Wednesday 16 March 2011

CUCKOO by Julia Crouch

A dark, juicy, deliciously unsettling, read-it-in-one-sitting psychological drama.

Rose has it all - the gorgeous children, the husband, the beautiful home. But then her best friend Polly comes to stay. Very soon, Rose's cosy world starts to fall apart at the seams - her baby falls dangerously ill, her husband is distracted - is Polly behind it all? It appears that once you invite Polly into your home, it's very difficult to get her out again...

I found the description of this book intriguing. And when I read that the author actually wrote it during NaNoWriMo, I couldn't wait to get stuck into it...

Rose has recently settled into the new house she's enjoyed renovating in the countryside with her husband and two daughters. She's enjoying getting into some sort of family routine and is finally in a comfortable place with her artist husband, Gareth. However, when her best friend Polly becomes a widow, Rose invites her and her two sons to stay with them until they get themselves settled.

Although Rose's husband isn't thrilled with the idea, because he doesn't particularly like Polly, she still comes to stay. And things start going downhill from there. Rose and Polly have a very odd friendship. They've known each other since they were kids and seem to share a very toxic presence in each other's life. The lives of these two women are intertwined in a series of shocking events. Their connection is filled with wicked manipulation, and sick games. One that actually puts Rose's baby in the hospital.

Suddenly, everything in Rose's life is out of control and she can't get on top of things, but Polly is there to take over and settle the household...

This book is so well written that I was instantly sucked in. The story got under my skin so much that I couldn't wait to read more. But I have to admit, Rose frustrated me. A lot. She was in total denial about her friend's actions and motivations, and let Polly pretty much run riot and ruin her life so much she ends up losing just about everything. Though, Rose isn't as innocent as she first appears. She's very fickle, easily led, and has done plenty of Pollyesque-type things herself.

Cuckoo is a very clever book, with a very spooky story of two friends with so many secrets between them that one of them feels obliged to let the other pop into her life periodically to ruin it. The tension is so thick, I turned every page anticipating what awaited me... all the way to the very shocking conclusion.

I have to admit that the end of the book made me groan, though. Yet, it made perfect sense. This was a great debut!

Cuckoo, March 2011, ISBN 9780755377985, Headline Paperback

M&SRC books read: 7/12

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