Title: The Foster Child
Author: Jenny Blackhurst
When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.
Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.
But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…
I really enjoyed this atmospheric, entertaining read. With plenty of psychological suspense mixed in with a hint of the supernatural, you’re never quite sure if things are quite what they seem. (Without spoiling any of the story, I should point out that I am not usually a fan of novels that lean too far towards the supernatural, but The Foster Child doesn’t place too much emphasis on this, and it leaves enough room for doubt as to what really caused the ‘occurances’ in question…) As the reader finds out more about main character Imogen’s life, as well as what’s going inside Ellie’s brain (and foster family) and insights into other characters’ lives, it’s easy to start to think you understand what’s going on in the mysterious town of Gaunt… but do you really?
I think Jenny Blackhurst has done a great job of making you think you know more than you do, before throwing in a well-timed curveball to keep you guessing. There are several factors at play within this novel that reminded me of key historical events or settings, and many of these similarities help to create a truly eerie, threatening atmopshere within The Foster Child. I swung between feeling sorry for little Ellie, to thinking she’s dangerous, to believing she’s a victim of superstition and hysteria – much like a modern-day Salem Witch Trials.
It’s hard to know whose side to be on, and there’s the ongoing ‘unexplained’ parts of both Ellie and Imogen’s history, which – as more and more is slowly revaled – help to create the strong sense of unease throughout this book. And that ending – fab! I’d definitely recommend this book; it’s a fairly easy but addictive read which left me feeling thoroughly entertained!
Many thanks to Headline for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
I also recently reviewed Jenny Blackhurst’s new novel, The Night She Died – read my review here.