Title: A Ruined Girl
Author: Kate Simants
Publisher: Viper, Serpent’s Tail
Publication Date: 27th August 2020
Two boys loved her. But which one killed her?
Two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into the house of Paige’s school counsellor and stole only a necklace, but traumatised their victims in the process. No one knows why. And Paige hasn’t been seen since that night. Having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.
Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…
I was really intrigued by the description of this book and I’m pleased to say it totally impressed me. The story follows two narratives, Wren is a probation officer who is dealing with the recently released inmate Rob who was convicted of robbery which he committed alongside Paige, a young girl who grew up in the care system. Paige hasn’t been seen since the robbery. The other narrative jumps back and follows Luke, Rob’s younger brother who lived in the children’s home with Paige in the lead up to the robbery and Paige’s disappearance. We eventually find out how all the pieces of this puzzle fit and how the characters are all connected.
I found A Ruined Girl completely gripping. From the first page I was hooked and wanted to know the truth about what happened to Paige. It is really quite a sad read at times. It gets to the heart of how it feels to grow up in care and how these children often feel they are doomed or even ruined from the beginning and cannot get out of the cycle of being unwanted they are stuck in. My heart broke for both Paige and Luke especially. Luke is an angry boy and a damaged one but he has a overwhelming love for Paige. His obsession with her sometimes leans into possessiveness which is obviously problematic and perhaps even dangerous but the author manages to make Luke feel so real that it is hard not to have some degree of empathy for him. Paige is also such a vulnerable character and it is devastating the way she is used and treated in such a horrendous manner by people who should be protecting her. There is a lot of darkness in this story but it’s not the sort of book you finish feeling depressed. There is a measure of hope to be found in A Ruined Girl which demonstrates strength against adversity and shows that there are also genuinely good people in the world. This is a fantastic, brilliantly written book which gets more and more tense as you barrel towards the heart-stopping climax. The characters are all continuously compelling and memorable. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys an addictive and thought provoking read. I’ll definitely be looking out for the next book by Kate Simants!
I received an e-arc of the book through Netgalley. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.