Today I’m excited to share my review of Holly Seddon’s new book, The Short Straw, as part of the blog tour! Read on to find out more about the book and what I thought…
Leaving isn’t safe…
But staying would be deadly.
Three sisters find themselves lost in a storm at night, and seek safety at Moirthwaite Manor, where their mother once worked. They are shocked to find the isolated mansion that loomed so large through their troubled childhoods has long been abandoned. Drawing straws to decide who should get help, one sister heads back into the darkness. With the siblings separated, the deadly secrets hidden in the house finally make themselves known and we learn the unspeakable secret that binds the family together.
The Short Straw is a slow burner of a novel that follows three sisters – Nina, Lizzie, and Aisa – as they return from lunch with their father. They become lost in a bad storm and take shelter at an imposing old house that is semi-familiar to them from their childhood because their mother used to work there as a maid. Aisa heads out into the night to try to get help, whilst the other two are left in the crumbling house with its shadows and secrets…
The book moves along at a fairly slow pace, introducing the characters and their intricate relationships, all against the backdrop of the raging storm. It cleverly alternates between present-day chapters narrated through each of the siblings’ eyes and chapters from their mother’s perspective, who had worked in the house years ago. This dual narrative adds depth to the story, and I found it particularly engaging. Throughout the narrative, an ever-present sense of looming danger persists, with the house itself becoming a menacing character.
While The Short Straw unravels the mystery of Jane’s mother’s past, it doesn’t fall squarely into the thriller genre. Instead, it creates an incredibly tense atmosphere. The present-day narrative didn’t need dramatic action to keep me engaged; I found myself on edge for much of the novel just from the lurking sense of danger, enjoying both the present-day and historical narratives. As well as the resolution of the mystery, I enjoyed the author’s skilful character development and the constant suspense that kept me enthralled.
If you appreciate novels that seamlessly flick between different timelines, The Short Straw serves as a superb example of a slow-burning story that skillfully maintains intrigue and suspense throughout its pages.
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to Tracy from Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour, and Orion Books for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.