Pretty Is – Maggie Mitchell

published 2 July 2015 by Orion


Lois and Carly-May are just twelve years old when they’re abducted, driven across the country, and imprisoned in a remote, isolated hunting lodge for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they form a bond which will never be broken . . .

Decades later, both Lois and Carly-May have built new lives and identities for themselves. Lois, a professor of literature, is shaken when an obsessive student reminds her of the man who kidnapped her, a man she saw shoot himself on the porch twenty years before.

Out in LA, Carly-May is drinking too much and watching her beauty-queen looks fade, clinging to the last remnants of a once-promising career as an actress. When she reads a shockingly familiar screenplay, she warily she takes a role she knows is based on events from her own life.

Increasingly haunted by the devastating experience that shaped both their lives, Lois and Carly-May are drawn together again in a world that both echoes and falsifies their beautiful, terrible story.

An enthralling portrait of two haunted young women, this remarkable debut novel explores the very nature of survival.

My thoughts

This is a story with masses of potential; a kidnapping story from debut author, Maggie Mitchell.

Two twelve year old girls are kidnapped, Lois and Carly-May by the myserious Zed. We see them both happy to go away from their families and go with their kidnapper. The story follows Lois and Carly-May as adults, reflecting back on the past. Lois is now a teacher of English and Carly-May has become a not very successful actress. Initially it seems the women have coped brilliantly with what happened to them as children. Their accounts of what happened to them seem less plausible, as the book progresses.

This book mixes Stockholm Syndrome, two mixed up individuals and a whole lot of waiting for the girls to finally meet up again.

I wasn’t entirely convinced. What was the motivation for the kidnapping? Why did he choose those particular girls? I cannot believe that two girls would just go willingly with a stranger and nothing happened to them. If nothing happened to them, why? What was in the mind of the kidnapper? I had so many questions reading this. I felt like there was a massive knowledge gap. An added layer of the deviant psychology of the kidnapper would have made this go from average tame chick lit plot to superb. We needed to hear from the kidnapper, in the story. We need insight. Without this, things don’t add up and we are left with two unreliable girls.

This had the potential to be a stonkingly good dark read, with a rather strong storyline. It was let down by a lack of depth and insight. It is a shame that the author did not let her dark side out and give us something more.

Overall it is a rather tame kidnapping story, that could have been amazing.

About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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4 Responses to Pretty Is – Maggie Mitchell

  1. It does sound a little too bland for my taste. But she obviously has talent so I’ll be interested to see what book two is.

  2. Christine says:

    Yes I can’t work out at all why she concentrated on the girls alone. She missed a massive opportunity. She does have talent. I agree with you there.

  3. Oh what a shame that this one didn’t reach its potential!

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