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The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson – a review

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this via netgalley. Although I’ve since found out that Catriona McPherson has an extensive back catalogue of books, this was the first of her books I’d read. I have got one of her previous novels, ‘As she left it’ on my to be read pile but for some reason it never made it to the top.

The Child Garden, centres on an old school called Eden. It was a school (I think set in Scotland) that prided itself on being an alternative school for happy children. The school was shut down after a child died during an overnight camping trip, and is now being run as a care home. The ex-school’s only neighbour is Gloria who has a son in the home. She lives in Rough House which is a spooky old place that belongs to one of the home’s residents, Miss Drumm.  Gloria’s life starts to change when an old school friend, and previous Eden pupil turns up on her doorstep. He claims that he is being stalked by an old friend from the school, and that she wants to meet him. Things are clearly not that simple however.

This book quickly hooked me in. During the first few pages I thought it was going to be a bit of a run of the mill, nasty man harasses naive reclusive women novel. However I was soon surprised. This was a really interesting story that was full of twists and turns. There were some bits that I thought were a little predictable, but there were enough surprises that this didn’t matter, and it soon swept you along. Equally at first I thought I was going to dislike Gloria as she started off seemingly rather meek and mild, yet as the story progressed I began to see that actually she was just lonely and mourning a son who wasn’t yet dead.

The plot was quick moving, and I liked the way the characters were introduced. There was almost a sense of each character having a seperate story. You found out their story and what had happened to them, then the chapter was closed and you moved onto the next one. This appealed to the soap opera fan in me, where each character has its own spotlight, and it is not til the end they all come together.

My only slight critiscism was the prologue at the end which I felt was all a little bit too ‘happy ever after’ for those involved. However saying that I don’t like it when a story isn’t concluded properly, so maybe its better this way.

Overall I would say this was a thoroughly good read, and I’m definitely going to give ‘As she left it’ a go shortly.

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