1977: A killer is released from prison and returns ‘home’ – a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding. Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon. She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web. All is ambiguous. What truth and what lies are behind the chilling confession of Stella Moon?
What did I think?
I do love to read books set in my native North East England; there's just something so much more tangible about the story when you have actually walked in the footsteps of the characters. Chillingham Road in Heaton and Worswick Street bus station in Newcastle get a mention; Worswick Street bus station was once the transport hub of Newcastle before the Metro came along. Although I've never been to Low Newton, where the beach hut is located, it is part of the beautiful Northumbrian coastline in the shadow of the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle.
The book starts in 1970 with the statement of Stella Moon confessing to killing her mother and giving details of what happened. A cut and dried case leading to Stella's imprisonment but with only Stella's version of events, we have to wonder how much of it is actually true. Is she really a cold blooded killer? Stella is released in 1977 and heads back to her native Newcastle, to find that everything has changed. Her grandmother's house is boarded up and she has nowhere to go so she breaks in through the kitchen window to take shelter for the night. Only the house isn't as deserted as it would appear...
As Stella relives her childhood we learn about a devastating event that affected all the residents of the house - Baby Keating disappeared from his pram outside the house. During a seance hosted by Stella's grandmother, Stella appears to be possessed as she tells the gathered ladies that Baby Keating is dead. How would she know this? Was this Stella's first murder?
The Confession of Stella Moon is dark, compulsive reading. I was addicted from the first page as the twin storyline of Baby Keating's disappearance and Stella's mother's death intertwine and disappear into the darkness of Stella's memory like curls of smoke. It's absolutely riveting from start to finish as the layers of Stella's life are peeled back like an onion and only then do we find out what really happened between Stella and her mother. A superb read!
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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