Released: 6th June 2019
Publisher: Corvus / Atlantic
She thought she would never go back...
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother's estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she's never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can't escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor's careless rugged beauty could cost her everything...
Do you ever sit down to read a book and then look up and realise an hour has passed? This novel did that for me - Utterly engrossing in it's gothic creepiness. It ticked a lot of boxes for me:
Scottish / remote setting, thriller, creepy old house, mystical element that you can't put your finger on … tick, tick, tick, tick. The way that all of these were woven together was wonderful.
I read a novel last year called English Animals by Laura Kaye and completely adored it; It's a much quieter book than this as it's general fiction rather than thriller, but there are so many things that reminded me of that story, in a really good way. The remote, country house setting, the inclusion of animals within the plot, the way the author writes so skilfully that you can picture the characters as if watching a film.
The characters in The Missing Years are quite quirky and well fleshed out, with a small village subtlety that is portrayed beautifully. There is a mysticism that is intricately and gently pushed through, which leaves you feeling as if you're under the book's spell.
Ailsa and Carrie are half-sisters who come together for a potentially awkward temporary stay in Ailsa's childhood home while they sort out their parent's estate. I loved how realistic their interactions seemed, as they both wanted to be closer but had little knowledge of each other's lives. The house is called the Manse, and it was painted as if it were a character in itself, with almost human traits that I found atmospheric and unsettling. The secondary characters, particularly Fiona and Ben, I thought were extremely well-developed and their personalities really came to life.
I'm impressed with how Lexie managed to balance what could have been a quiet, creepy, dark story with a gripping thriller. I've seen a few reviews saying that the pacing was a bit slow in places, but this was part of what I loved about it - I do adore 'quiet' books that take the time to build the tension and suspense through everyday occurrences, and to be able to write that with a mix of thriller to pick up the pace kept me on the edge of my seat. I will definitely be picking up Lexie's other book The French Girl soon.
If you liked English Animals or are looking for a thriller with a bit more depth, give this a try. Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour, and to Lexie Elliott and Corvus for sending me a copy for review.