My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - on and off 2 days
Pages - 336
Publisher - Harper Element
Blurb from Goodreads
It’s 1983 and best friends Vicky and Lucy swear that they will always be there for each other, that they’ll never let anyone come between them. But fast forward 4 years and life on the Canterbury Estate has gotten very messy.
Lucy has fallen for local policeman’s son, Jimmy. And Vicky is madly in love with Paddy, the charming but ruthless local bad boy. The boys are bitter enemies and determined to keep the two girls apart. But then Vicky is accused of murder, and even her drug-dealer boyfriend wants her mouth shut, permanently. Maybe Lucy is the only one who can save her
Love, murder, revenge. Who can you really trust when there’s blood on your hands?
We open in 1983, two little girls on the cusp of turning teens, share the old blood oath of friendship, never to let anyone come between them, sealed in blood. Fast forward four years and both girls have boyfriends, Lucy has fallen for a policeman's son and Vicky is head over heels for the local bad boy. Both men are natural enemies and hate each other on sight forcing a strain on the friendship of Lucy and Vicky. As the story unfolds, hatred grows and with horrifying consequences taking the girls down a road that there can be no return.
If you can I would avoid the blurb, for me there is a huge spoiler in that an event is mentioned that doesn't take place until the last quarter of the book. I found myself constantly waiting for it as it would have a huge turning point in the dynamics of the story. I think that also dampened my enjoyment of the overall story as I was constantly looking out for the twist, I will feed this back to the publishers too.
A tale about friendship and how love and manipulation can corrupt a person when they fall for the wrong man. Some parts are hard to read, not because it is badly written, the opposite, it is so true to life if anyone has a loved one in an abusive relationship this story will strike chords. The manipulation and destruction of one persons individuality due to a controlling partner is hard going, especially when everything takes a back seat. Their own choices, who they are as a person, family, friendship and even self identity. Done in such a masterful way that the person doesn't even realise what has happened or how they are being controlled. I really hated some of the main characters, Paddy for obvious reasons and Vicky because I was so frustrated at her choices and actions. Lucy, her partner Danny, and Gurdy were likable characters so you have a decent mix of those you can relate to or empathize with and those we love to hate.
The story is so much more than just the dominating abusive partner, friendship plays a huge part too but there is also love, murder, drugs, violence and illegal activity to name a few. Racism also rears its ugly head, adding weight to how despicable one person can be especially in the casual way he bands it about. Stories like this will always impact on readers differently, for me it was the abusive relationship between Vicky and Paddy that took center stage. Hard to read in parts because of the reflective realism on domestic abuse, especially such a young girl and we see how it plays out slowly without her even being aware. It highlights also that abuse isn't just violence, there are many forms and how it can impact upon the many lives it touches, choices and consequences. 3.5 initially for me as the spoiler really annoyed me but 4 stars overall because the book itself is very well written and had many layers to it. I have read Shaw before and I will read her again.