Book Title and Author: Stone Mothers by Erin Kelly
Publication Date and Publisher: April 23, 2019 by Minotaur Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
Pages: 368 pages
Buy on Amazon.com
Date Read: March 11, 2019 (paper copy from the publisher)
You can’t keep the secret.
You can’t tell the truth.
You can’t escape the past…
Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home in Nusstead – leaving behind her family, her boyfriend, Jesse, and the body they buried. Now, thirty years later, forced to return to in order to help care for her sick mother, she can feel the past closing around her. And Jesse, who never forgave her for leaving in the first place, is finally threatening to expose the truth.
Marianne will do anything to protect the life she’s built, the husband and daughter who must never know what happened all those years ago. Even if it means turning to her worst enemy for help… But Marianne may not know the whole story – and she isn’t the only one with secrets they’d kill to keep.
After reading He Said, She Said and being blown away, Erin Kelly immediately went on my list of authors whose books I had to read as soon as they came out. When I heard Stone Mothers was coming out, I knew I had to read it.
I’m not going to completely retell the synopsis here because I think it gives the perfect amount of information for you to go into the book; honestly, it’s best to go into this one a little blind as I think it is with all of Kelly’s books. Marianne Thackeray, ex-boyfriend Jesse Brame, and now MP Helen Greenlaw have been entangled in a dreadful secret for over thirty years. Marianne thought she had escaped her past, but this shared secret and Jesse’s deep-seated hatred of the woman who destroyed Nazareth Hospital, the mental asylum that employed most of Nusstead, could be her undoing.
The secret is hinted at throughout the book, which is told in four different parts starting in the present, going back to the 1950s, and returning to the present day. I love Kelly’s slow-burning style and each part not only begins to unravel the mystery but foretells what is to come next with an emotional impact that had me bracing myself. I will say the part written in the 1950s is my favorite of all even though it was gut-wrenching, horrifying, and sometimes hard to read.
I cannot think of another author of this genre who makes me think of themes deeper than who committed a crime, but Kelly has a true knack for getting you to care about social issues and intensely reflect while these issues assault your thoughts. Before reading this, I had no idea “stone mothers” was another name used for mental hospitals in Victorian times. After reading the way mental patients were treated even into the late 1950s, the title took on a tragic and saddening meaning. More than writing a psychological thriller, Kelly has cleverly and deftly exposed the injustices and inequalities toward women, the mentally ill, and the poor.
What Kelly does so well is write psychological suspense that’s a perfectly paced slow-burn where the suspense gradually builds to its stunning climax. Stone Mothers is not only well-written but beautiful prose that is literary and strikingly beautiful-this isn’t just a suspense novel, it reads like literary fiction because it’s elegantly nuanced, detailed, and multilayered with haunted characters and a twisted plot so intriguing that I couldn’t put the book down.
Of course, it’s a book that I highly recommend, and I cannot wait for Kelly’s next book.
**Thank you so much, Alison Ziegler, at Minotaur Books and Erin Kelly for the review copy. All opinions are my own. **