Book Review: Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

Penguin Cover

They tried to make me go to my sister’s funeral today. In the end I had to give in … I’d been walking in her shadow for sixteen years and I liked its cool darkness. It was a good place to hide.’ 

Rebecca’s twin sister Hephzibah was beautiful and daring. She was the one who always wanted more. The one who wouldn’t listen. Now she’s gone, Rebecca is alone.

While there were two of them, they stayed silent about their home life. But Rebecca, who knows the truth about how her twin died, suddenly finds herself keeping too many secrets. Hephzibah dreamt of escape, but failed. Could Rebecca be the one to find freedom?

Original and unforgettable, Black Heart Blue is not just Rebecca and Hephzibah’s story. It’s a story about all of us: a story about the lies we want to believe, the truth we sometimes can’t, and having the courage to discover the difference. (From

I knew very little about this book when I started it, mainly attracted by the story of twin sisters ripped apart. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the dark, emotional and heartrendingly sad story inside.

Written in alternating chapters of before and after from each sister, Louisa Reid blends a tense tale of abuse and religious extremism with courage and hope. I felt we really got to know both sisters, who were scarily believable and uncliched (as characters in books covering similar stories can often be) My heart ached for them both. Beautiful, lively and naive Hepzi, as she longed to break out of the claustrophobic and cruel clutches of their vicarage home. Rebecca, who is quietly brave and loyal to her sister, even when she is suffering the brunt of her fathers anger at her sisters actions. Louisa Reid creates both characters perfectly, so while they are victims they also have flaws. This adds a true sense of ‘realness’ to the situation. 

Puffin Cover

The Father is a terrifying character who manages to get right under your skin. We see stories in the papers all the time and ask ‘how did nobody know?’ This would be one of those stories, and Reid encourages the reader to not only think about the twins situation, but as people how we often find it easier to look the other way and how easy it is for a person to present themselves as something completely different in public. 

I was gripped to this book right from the beginning and read it in just two sittings. It’s all consuming and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for a long time after. With some very dark themes and scenes of violence, it’s not the very fainthearted, but despite that there’s an overarching feeling of hope throughout. Highly recommended by me. 

Published in the UK by Penguin/Puffin as both Adult and Childrens (May 2012)

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Black Heart Blue by Louisa Reid

  1. I must admit when I got this one for review I didn't think it was for me and passed it on to a family member who I thought would enjoy it to borrow. After reading your review I now want it back you've changed my mind completely! Fantastic review as always 🙂


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