Author: Hazel Barkworth
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 27th May 2021 (paperback)
This summer burns with secrets…
It is too hot to sleep. To work. To be questioned time and again by the police.
At the beginning of a stifling, sultry summer, everything shifts irrevocably when Lily doesn’t come home one afternoon.
Rachel is Lily’s teacher. Her daughter Mia is Lily’s best friend. The girls are fifteen – almost women, still children.
As Rachel becomes increasingly fixated on Lily’s absence, she finds herself breaking fragile trusts and confronting impossible choices she never thought she’d face.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.
Heatstroke is a book I’ve been hearing some fantastic things about so I was really looking forward to reading it. I’m pleased to say it totally delivered. The story follows Rachel a teacher and mother to her teenage daughter Lily. At the start of a hot, humid and burning summer one of Mia’s friends, Lily, goes missing and Rachel becomes fixated on her disappearance and on finding out everything she can about Mia’s life without her.
The first thing that I have to say about Heatstroke is how brilliantly written it is. The prose is stunning. There is a creeping unease and intensity that builds like the sun growing hotter and hotter. The heat of the summer, intertwined with Rachel’s growing obsession is masterfully evocative. Rachel is a fascinating, if not particularly likeable, character to follow. Her internal dialogue has an almost claustrophobic feeling to it and as a reader you are drawn into her deepest thoughts and fantasies. There is an almost uncomfortableness in some of what she conceals and as more is revealed about what has happened to Lily, more of Rachel herself is revealed. Heatstroke is in some ways a character study but also an intriguing look into the relationships between mothers and daughters. It is elegantly stylish and written with a sharp intelligence which makes it impossible to tear yourself away from. I would highly recommend this as an immersive, dark and original summer read. I will definitely be reading whatever Barkworth writes next.
Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.