Tuesday 25 May 2021

Book Review: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain book cover

AD* | Anna Hart is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. 

Yet the day she arrives, she learns a local teenage girl has gone missing. The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna's childhood when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. 

As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

Weaving together actual cases of missing persons, trauma theory, and a hint of the metaphysical, this propulsive and deeply affecting novel tells a story of fate, necessary redemption, and what it takes when the worst happens, to reclaim our lives - and our faith in one another.

Intense and gripping, When the Stars Go Dark is a thrilling new novel by Paula McLain.

The main character is Anna, a woman on the run from her personal life who ends up centre stage in an escalating missing persons case. From the outset, it's clear that there is more to Anna than first meets the eye. She is clearly a capable detective with lots of experience in missing persons cases, yet she is also a vulnerable individual, a grieving family member, and a little girl still angry at herself. Anna is such a well-written, multi-faceted character that it is a delight to read about her.

This book deals with some difficult themes. Trigger warnings for death, kidnapping, rape, and child loss are just a few, so please do be aware if you plan to read the book. These difficult topics are dealt with well, within the context of the book, and they also add a gritty atmosphere to the storyline. 

However, the heartbreaking reality is that some of the cases mentioned in the book are real cases. The author effortlessly blends fact with fiction, and it's clear that a great deal of research must have gone into the creation of this book. The end result is a layered, nuanced story that doesn't shy away from difficult topics yet also raises awareness of these issues' importance. The way that the community comes together to support the police in searching for the missing girls is truly remarkable and inspiring.

When the Stars Go Dark is a beautifully written, well-executed mystery thriller novel.

Rating: 3 stars

When the Stars Go Dark is available to buy now.

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* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below! 

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