Book Review: Little Girls Tell Tales by Rachel Bennett
Fifteen years ago, Rosalie was just ten years old when she got lost in the curraghs, a stretch of marshland close to her mother’s cottage in a remote part of the Isle of Man. And when Rosalie came stumbling out of the bogs, cold, frightened and babbling about finding a skeleton, nobody really took her seriously because little girls, after all, do tell tales.
Fast forward to today and Rosalie is living in her mother’s cottage as she tries somehow to recoup after the devastating loss of her wife Beth to cancer. She doesn’t want or need her ne’er do well brother Dallin turning up on her doorstep with a stranger in tow, but when she hears Cora’s story, she can’t turn her away. Because Cora believes Rosalie really did find human remains in the curraghs that day… and she thinks they might have been her sister Simone’s.
Simone was only fifteen when she became a teenage runaway. Slowly, throughout the book, via snippets of Cora’s point of view, we find out that Simone had in fact been having an affair with an older (married) man, and it becomes obvious that Cora feels immense guilt for Simone’s disappearance even though she was only nine at the time. And as Cora, Rosalie and Dallin search, it also becomes obvious that someone doesn’t want them in the curraghs, doesn’t want their secrets to be unearthed.
It’s an interesting choice to tell this story primarily from Rosalie’s point of view - the impartial witness, in a way - rather than Cora’s, the family member of the victim. Rosalie’s state of mind plays a big part because she’s deep in grief, but she’s a very compassionate person and she never, ever doubted that she really did find a body that day. Even in the depths of her own trauma, she wants to help Cora get closure.
The writing is beautifully descriptive, but the plot’s a little slow for the first two-thirds of the book. It doesn’t really pick up the pace until close to the end, when the three searchers realise Simone’s killer has been watching all along, misdirecting the investigation and determined to ensure her body is never found. Suddenly it’s suspenseful and there’s real danger; I couldn’t stop reading until I got to the end once things really kicked off. Stick with it after the slow start and you’ll be well rewarded. Five stars for a beautifully written story which had me riveted by the climactic action.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.