On my blog today, I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Lost Girls by Heather Young. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.
In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s summer house on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family – her father takes his own life, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child.
Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability – a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.
Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her absent mother reappears, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.
The Lost Girls is an atmospheric crime thriller by Heather Young, and the plot and her writing drew me into the story and the setting. This isn’t a fast-paced novel, but it captured my attention, and I wanted to find out what had happened in 1935 when a young girl, Emily, disappeared.
I loved the lake house, which for me became a character itself as we visit it in the present day and decades earlier in the 1930s. There is a very haunting feeling to this book, and it does have an intriguing mystery that kept me turning the pages. The characters were very well drawn, and I thought their voices came through very strongly.
In the present day, Justine has just inherited the lakeside property from her great-aunt, and she decides to move her family there. I did find this a little bit odd when I was reading it, especially as she’d only been to the house once before in her life. The house is very isolated. With the mystery of what happened there in the past still unsolved, it made me wonder why anyone would want to move there. I don’t think I would feel comfortable moving into a home where a crime has taken place or if an unexplained event has happened.
The house felt very mysterious to me, and I wanted to know what had happened there in 1935. As the family get settled into the home, they begin to find newspaper articles dating from around the time of Emily’s disappearance and other personal, family belongings. I was eager to know if there would be some sort of clue among the possessions found that might explain what happened.
I liked the scenes when Heather Young took us back in time. We see the events leading up to Emily’s disappearance. It makes for tense reading as Heather Young explores the girl’s relationships with her parents and siblings. Their father is very controlling and very religious.
The truth about what happened in 1935 is heart-breaking, and I liked how Heather Young gradually revealed this. I could feel what the characters were feeling at the time the events were being described on the page. There is a tense finale as the events in the present day are wrapped up.
The Lost Girls does make for a sinister and gripping read. I thought Heather Young’s writing was really addictive, and I thought it flowed well. If you enjoy a slow-burner with a strong sense of place and an intriguing mystery, I highly recommend it. It is so well written.
Publisher: Verve Books
Publication date: 20th May 2021 (kindle) 25th November 2021 (paperback)
Print length: 352 pages
The Lost Girls is available to buy:
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