#BookReview – Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath @HQStories

give me the childAn unexpected visitor.

Dr Cat Lupo aches for another child, despite the psychosis which marked her first pregnancy. So when Ruby Winter, a small girl in need of help, arrives in the middle of the night, it seems like fate.

A devastating secret.

But as the events behind Ruby’s arrival emerge – her mother’s death, her connection to Cat – Cat questions whether her decision to help Ruby has put her own daughter at risk.

Do we get the children we deserve?

Cat’s research tells her there’s no such thing as evil. Her history tells her she’s paranoid. But her instincts tell her different. And as the police fight to control a sudden spate of riots raging across the capital, Cat faces a race against time of her own… 

Published 27th July 2017 by HQ (UK) 

Give Me The Child is certainly a gripping read! Is there anything quite as sinister as an evil child? I was intrigued by the synopsis and some fab reviews, so was looking forward to reading this book. And for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It starts when, in the middle of the night, there’s a knock at the door. The police and social services have brought an eleven year old child to the house, and claim she is Cat’s husband’s daughter. He admits to a one night stand many years ago, denying any knowledge of the strange and eerie looking Ruby Winter, who has just lost her mother in a terrible accident and needs a family to care for her. Cat tries to welcome the child into her home, but as her own daughter begins to turn against her and worrying things begin to happen, Cat is convinced there’s more to Ruby Winter than there seems. But is Cat right? Or is the psychosis which blighted her own pregnancy rearing its head again? Who exactly in this family is the dangerous one?

Mel McGrath paints a terrifyingly chilling portrait of Ruby through her tense and descriptive writing, right down to using her full title, Ruby Winter, whenever she’s mentioned – giving the reader an image of an aloof, otherworldly, cold and distant child who sent shivers up my spine. Mixing naivety and malice, innocence and darkness through the relationship between Ruby and Cat’s biological daughter Freya, there’s a real sinister edge seeping through the pages of this book and I had no idea where it was leading to.

I thought Cat’s portrayal as a somewhat unreliable narrator was good. Is she being manipulated or is she in fact loosing a grip on reality again? Mel McGrath explores mental illness and the continuing stigma attached to a person – it’s all to easy for those around Cat to write her concerns off as delusional, and I felt her frustration as she struggled to make herself believed. I did feel that she perhaps allowed people to belittle and brush her aside a bit too easily at times, and thought a woman of Cat’s intelligence and experience wouldn’t have allowed herself to be manipulated quite so easily which made her a little less believable than she could have been.

On the whole though, Give Me The Child is a fast paced page turner, with multiple layers of emotional and domestic abuse, manipulation, fractured family dynamics, resentment, cover ups, ethics and the age old debate of nature vs nurture – asking Do we get the child we deserve? There’s a lot to think about and a lot of themes covered during this complex, intense thriller and apart from my niggle about Cat’s lack of fight to begin with, I was absolutely hooked by the second half, right up to the explosive climax which left me reeling. Mel McGrath is a writer who knows how to keep a reader gripped with intricate and original plotting, and I’ll certainly be looking out for more of her books in the future.

(I read an advance proof courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)