Title: The Lost Girls
Author: Heather Young
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Verve Books
Publication Date: 20th May 2021 (ebook)
In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s summer house on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family – her father takes his own life, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child.
Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability – a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.
Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her absent mother reappears, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.
The Lost Girls follows the multigenerational tale of the Evans women and their Minnesota lake house. The story is split into two narratives, one follows Lucy as she tells the story of the tragic 1935 summer that her six year old sister Emily went missing during, the other follows her great niece, Justine, whom Lucy leaves the lake house to in her will. Justine is fleeing a controlling partner with her two daughters, one of whom becomes obsessed with the mystery of Emily.
There is a quietly haunted atmosphere to The Lost Girls which seeps out of the pages and into the mind of its reader. The author ties together beautifully the different threads of a story that stretches through the decades and the far reaching consequences of trauma and guilt. I found the sections in 1935 bristled violently with tension that stems from Lucy’s family dynamic. There is something decidedly off about them from the weirdly protective mother who treats Emily like a doll to the intense and controlling father who recites from the bible in the evenings. Then there are the sections following Justine and her daughters which demonstrate how the ghosts of family are impossible to shake. The Lost Girls is not action-packed and adrenaline filled, rather it is a dark and compelling slow-burn that crackles with tension. It’s a novel about family and how it can be something damaging and painful yet also something which can bind people together and generate strength. A fantastic novel of suspense.
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.