By Kate Hamer
Published by Faber & Faber (26 February 2015)
Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...
While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.
The Girl in the Red Coat starts off in a whirlwind. Beth has always been worried about losing her daughter Carmel, whose head is always in the clouds. And when eight-year-old Carmel goes missing from a festival, her mother's nightmare begins.
Unlike other 'child missing' books, The Girl in the Red Coat doesn't focus on the police investigation. Instead, it concentrates on the tragedy of separation, told from the points of view of both Beth and Carmel. Beth clings to the hope that Carmel will be found and finds it difficult to imagine a future without her daughter. Yet her life has to move on (one way or another). Meanwhile Carmel doesn't realise she is missing, having innocently believed the pack of lies told by her abductor. But in the back of her mind, she knows that she mustn't forget her past and who she really is.
The Girl in the Red Coat is beautifully written with a magical poetic quality. Although this imaginative page-turner has a chilling undercurrent, it isn't a depressing read. It does, however, pull your emotions in all directions. I spent the last 10% of the book with tears flowing, yet still didn't want the story to end.
If you're looking for a psychological thriller with a difference, I urge you to read this book.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.