Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books
Date of publication: April 23rd, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Erin Kelly, the masterful author of He Said/She Said, delivers another irresistible, unputdownable novel of psychological suspense.
You can’t keep the secret.
You can’t tell the truth.
You can’t escape the past…
Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home in Nusstead – leaving behind her family, her boyfriend, Jesse, and the body they buried. Now, thirty years later, forced to return to in order to help care for her sick mother, she can feel the past closing around her. And Jesse, who never forgave her for leaving in the first place, is finally threatening to expose the truth.
Marianne will do anything to protect the life she’s built, the husband and daughter who must never know what happened all those years ago. Even if it means turning to her worst enemy for help… But Marianne may not know the whole story – and she isn’t the only one with secrets they’d kill to keep.
Marianne was doing well for herself. She’s been married for 25 years to a wonderful and understanding man. Her daughter, who is mentally ill, hasn’t had an episode in over a year. Life is good. Then her husband surprises her with a trip to her home village of Nusstead. A place she has rarely gone back to since she left at 17. A place where a death occurred and was covered up.
Her happy life is in jeopardy when her ex-boyfriend threatens to expose her secret about what happened at the Nazareth Hospital.Marianne is forced to join forces with the only other person who knows what happened that night. But Helen has her motivation for aligning with Marianne. She has her secrets, and she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep those secrets from coming out.
When I started reading Stone Mothers, I thought that this was going to be a quick book to read. A book with an easy plotline to follow. One I could keep track of the main characters. An interesting book that would keep my attention. Unfortunately, Stone Mothers only hit two out of the three for me.
The Stone Mothers had two significant plotlines. I had a hard time following Marianne’s plotline. It was all over the place. It could be present day then morph back to the ‘80s and then again to the present day. It drove me nuts.
I found myself wondering when the colossal secret was going to be revealed and what it was. It was alluded to in Marianne’s plotline often, but it wasn’t explain until halfway through the book. At that point, I was so irritated by the constant flashbacks that I didn’t care about the secret.
Helen’s plotline was wonderfully written. It stayed in chronological order. There were none of the bouncings around that made Marianne’s plotline so hard to read. As weird as this sounds, I thought that Helen’s plotline was written better.
I do think that Helen’s plotline should have been first in the book. That way there would be no confusion about what was going on. Also, I would have liked to see Marianne’s stay in chronological order. No bouncing around. It would have made the book much easier to read.
I did like that the author got into the history of how the mentally ill were treated in England. It was eye-opening what was considered mentally ill back then. Husband beating you. Mentally ill. Gay or Lesbian. Mentally ill. Someone who was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Mentally ill. A woman who wanted to get an abortion. Mentally ill. I could go on and on. It disgusted me.
I was horrified by how the mentally ill people were treated in the book. The treatments that they were put through were illegal and awful. How the staff managed the patients were horrible. Sure, there were a few that were nice, but they were few and far between. Most of the time, the staff was abusive towards the patients.
I liked also explored what it was like when those hospitals shut down. Unfortunately, what the book showed is the truth. I grew up about 10ish miles from a state hospital (Danvers State). They closed down in the mid- ‘80s. With nowhere to go, they put a bunch of patients out on the street. I remember not being allowed to play outside the summer it happened because my mother was terrified. She used to work there, and she said that there were sick people in there. People that shouldn’t have been allowed back on the street but were there because of cutbacks and lack of funding. So, what happened in Stone Mothers, I could believe.
I did like how the author was able to show how far treating mental illness has come. Marianne’s daughter had her struggles with mental illness. She was functioning because of therapy and medication. The stigma of having a mental illness has lessened but is still there. In this book, it shows how far it has come and how far there is still left to go.
I couldn’t get a feel for Marianne during the first half of the book. She did come off as having an “I am better than you” attitude. I didn’t understand her reaction to having an apartment bought for her until later in the book. Up until then, I thought she was an ungrateful snot. I also didn’t understand her codependent relationship with Jesse. It wasn’t explained until much later in the book. I did come to respect her towards the end of the book. Everything she did was for the love of her daughter.
I did not like Jesse. I did feel bad for him when everything happened with Clay. But other than that, nope. Didn’t like him. His identity was so wrapped up in Marianne’s that he didn’t know what to do when she broke it off. His behavior was erratic from the middle of the book on. By the end of the book, he scared me.
Helen was the only one out of the three that I liked. She worked hard to become who she was. While she had an outward facade of not caring, she did. As for her story, I am not going to go into it. All I have to say is that she deserved most of the stuff that happened in the book.
I didn’t feel that Stone Mothers was a good fit in with the thriller category. There was no thrill. Because of Marianne’s plotline jumping around, I never got that feeling.
As for the mystery/suspense categories, I was kind of eh. I felt that the plot moved too slow and jumped around too much for any suspense to be built. The mystery angle was also eh. I couldn’t get into it because of Marianne’s plotline jumping around.
There was a lag in the plotline about halfway through the book. The author was able to bring the book back on track. There was also the matter of dropped characters and insinuated plotlines. The way the book set up a particular character, I thought that she was the one killed. But, nothing else was mentioned about her until the end of the book. And it turned out to be different than what I thought. I went back and reread that passages to make sure I wasn’t confusing things.
The end of Stone Mothers seemed rushed. I wasn’t expecting what happened. It was also mentioned that something happened to another main character. Then that character was brought back into the book. I did like that it was from Honor’s POV. I liked that I was given an outsider’s perspective on the whole cluster. Still, I was left wanting at how the book ended.
I would give Stone Mothers an Older Teen rating. There are mentions of sex but the deed itself was never talked about. There is violence. There is language. I would recommend that no one under the age of 16 read this book.
I am on the fence if I would reread Stone Mothers. I am also on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**
I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Stone Mothers.
All opinions stated in this review of Stone Mothers are mine.
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