When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.
Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.
Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria’s disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?
Published 27th July by Sphere (Little Brown UK)
Friend Request by Laura Marshall was one of my top anticipated reads of 2017. We all use social media right? And I guess we all know there can be a dark side – not hidden away in murky corners of the web, but right there in front of us every day. Facebook, quite honestly, gives me the chills at times, with the airing of dirty laundry, contrived impressions people present to the world and just the stalkerish nature of it all. Who hasn’t scrolled through an old school pals or work colleagues profile at some point out of curiosity?
So for this very reason I knew Friend Request had the potential to be a creepy, tense and relevant read. I was right! The minute I sat down to read this book I was hooked. Imagine getting a friend request from someone who died long ago? That would be terrifying, but there are some sick people about and it’s quite believable someone would create an account to cause distress and upset. However, what if you were somehow complicit in that death, and had been keeping a secret for a very long time? Cue an intense, thrilling and emotional unraveling of Louise’s past as buried secrets are revealed, old resentments resurfaced and doubt and mistrust lurks at every corner.
Laura Marshall sets the pace just right, delivering short chapters which switch deftly between past and present and urge the reader on to ‘just one more’. I really liked how she crafted Louise to be complex yet relatable. The book tackles the issue of teen bullying, and while the situation she gets herself into is deplorable, I was able to sympathise with her and see how it could happen, how a desire to fit in with the crowd can lead to a loss of control and reason. Yes, it’s extreme, but I imagine smaller scale situations play out every day in every school.
There is also an unknown narrator who crops up every few chapters with short italicised passages adding intrigue and suspense. I was pretty shocked when I found out who this is, yet it made total sense. Friend Request is a chilling book, particularly as it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine this actually happening, and with a fast flowing, page turning narrative, kept me gripped from beginning to end. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, then I recommend Friend Request thoroughly – however, you may think twice before looking up those long lost school friends on Facebook in the future!
(I read an advance E-copy courtesy of the publishers and netgalley)