Author: Sarah Hilary
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 10th June 2021
Everything she touches breaks . . .
Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.
So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.
But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.
But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .
This is the first book I’ve read by Sarah Hilary but it definitely won’t be the last! Fragile follows teenage runaway Nell, a former foster child who is running from an incident shrouded in secrecy and trauma. She ends up at Starling Villas whilst searching for her fellow runaway Joe. However there is more to Starling Villas and it’s mysterious owner Robin Wilder than meets the eye and Nell finds herself in a dark and dangerous predicament.
The first thing I have to say about Fragile is how beautifully written and observed it is. Hilary imbues her prose with an evocative and lingering atmosphere that really gets under the skin of her readers. There are definite echoes of Du Maurier both in the slightly gothic tone of the novel and in the sense that Starling Villas, like Manderley is very much a character in itself. There is a creeping sense of dread to the story that is connected to the house and the secrets it holds. The characters are equally fascinating. Fragile is narrated by Nell and by her former foster mother Meagan, a woman consumed by vengeance and bitterness. Nell herself is a damaged soul whose story is full of sadness, loneliness and loss. Robin Wilder is a bit of an enigma whilst his wife Carolyn is a frightening study in malevolence. Together this cast of characters makes for a brilliant slow burn of a thriller with a quiet sense of unease. Fragile is deftly plotted and beautifully paced and I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a thriller steeped in emotion and atmosphere.
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.