99 Red Balloons: Elisabeth Carpenter




What the blurb says:

Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?

When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweet shop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.

What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?

Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…


My review:

OK, who else has had this song playing in their head since they started reading this book! I cannot get it out of mine! The title and book cover were the first two things that grabbed me about this book when I saw them and the blurb pulled me straight on in.

From the very beginning it is clear that this is going to be an upsetting story; the grief of two mothers, although decades apart, seeps through the pages and does not let up and a cast of unreliable narrators will have you suspicious of all who appear before your gaze. This was the kind of killer hook that draws me into a book, a plot that I can engage and connect with and want to invest my time in!

So why was I left with mixed feelings about this read? The concept of the plot was fantastic and it lends itself so well to the genre but for me, there were just a little too many clues that gave the game away and I kind of worked out where it was all going early on in the book. However, this doesn’t detract from the fact that it was a very well written debut novel and a strong and intriguing plot that will appeal to many.

Each of the characters were extremely true to life and I couldn’t fault them at all; I was able to empathise with each and every one of them throughout the book and this stayed with me all the way to the very end. Yet the format of the book confused me; I was so glad that most of the chapters had names attached to them as it meant that I could work out who was narrating but it just felt like each chapter was a bit disjointed and there was no sense of continuity for me as a reader which left me feeling a little cold and left out of the book if you know what I mean!

The family dynamics or rather the dysfunctional families made fascinating reading as each little layer was lifted and another untruth uncovered. It certainly made for quite dark,  harrowing and emotional reading.

Overall I felt that this was a good debut novel from the author and I would certainly read more from her.

You can purchase the book from Amazon


2 thoughts on “99 Red Balloons: Elisabeth Carpenter

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