Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Claire Allan’s fantastic psychological thriller, ‘Her Name Was Rose’. I’d heard so many good things about this book, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Her name was Rose. You watched her die. And her death has created a vacancy.
When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly – she finds herself unable to move on.
And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily had ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And now Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space?
But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect … and not everything is as it seems.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of grief and loss in great detail. Explores the theme of domestic violence, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including references to rape.
‘Her Name Was Rose’ (June 2018) is Claire Allan’s debut psychological thriller, followed by ‘Apple Of My Eye’ (January 2019). Claire Allan used to write women’s fiction and has written 9 books in the genre. Allan was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, and spent years working as a journalist before leaving to write full-time.
The book has received rave reviews, from the likes of fellow authors such as Liz Nugent: “A brilliantly paced, intriguingly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable story”, C.L. Taylor: “A powerful and emotional psychological thriller that will keep you guessing and leave you breathless”, Claire Douglas: “Compulsive, twisty, tense”, John Marrs: “A psychological thriller with a heart” and Amanda Robson: “Mesmerising to the point of complete distraction”.
‘Her Name Was Rose’ follows the life of Emily, who witnesses a woman die in a hit-and-run. She becomes obsessed with Rose Grahame and her husband Cian, who is torn apart with grief and has been left to care for their young son. Emily becomes closer and closer to Cian, but is he really the man he claims to be?
The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Emily, and the reader is given a deep insight to her thoughts, feelings and emotions. These are all narrated in the present tense, beginning with her witnessing Rose’s death. There are also entries included from Rose’s diary, which narrates the events leading up to her death. The narrative is easy to follow, but still very effective.
Rose (although dead) is my favourite character in the novel. From the outside, she has a seemingly perfect life – a fulfilling job as a Dentist’s receptionist, a wonderful husband and a beautiful baby boy. She is surrounded by people who love her and she has made an impact on so many people around her. Everyone she knew is racked with grief after her death, and is unable to move on with their lives. But it soon becomes clear that her life wasn’t that perfect after all, and she has a few secrets of her own that are threatening to get out. Rose is a very well-written, three-dimensional character.
Emily is another well-written character, and she progresses massively through the course of the novel. At the start, I didn’t like her very much. She has witnessed a terrible thing, and is understandably traumatised by what she has seen. But she begins to get really obsessed with finding out all about Rose’s life and befriends her husband Cian in doing so. She wants to fill the void that Rose has left, which I felt was really foolish. However, I did begin to feel sympathy towards Emily as the novel went on, as she becomes stuck in her situation and must work to find a way out. I did see some parts of myself in Emily, and I much enjoyed her as a character towards the end of the novel.
Cian, Rose’s husband, is practically drowning in his grief, and has been left to single-handedly raise their son. A best-selling writer whose life has been turned upside down, Cian now struggles to complete small, daily tasks and care for his son. When Emily comes along she is his saviour, and their friendship blossoms very quickly. However, it soon becomes clear that Cian is perhaps not the man he claims to be – he’s hot-headed and quick-tempered, and there is much more to him than first meets the eye. Cian is a very interesting, mysterious character, and I enjoyed discovering more about him.
Other characters in the novel include: Ben (Emily’s ex-partner), Maud (Emily’s friend), Owen (Emily’s new boss), Donna (Emily’s colleague), and various members of the police team. There is a relatively small cast of characters in the novel, but all bring something fresh and exciting to the story.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel explores the theme of grief and loss in great detail. It explores the aftermath of losing a loved one, and the obstacles that Cian now faces just to complete small, daily tasks. The theme of domestic violence is explored, with references to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including references to rape. These issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity, but if you feel that any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, Emily and Cian’s relationship becomes more intense. Emily is obsessed with filling the void that Rose has left, and this leads her to making some stupid decisions and ending up in dangerous situations. Cian’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, and the truth about Rose’s death is just waiting to be unleashed…
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a shocking final twist that changes EVERYTHING! I definitely never saw that coming, and I was really surprised at the revelation that occurs. The pieces of the puzzle finally fit together, and everything makes sense at last. The book ends with a sense of ambiguity, which I really enjoyed. I was really satisfied with the ending of the book, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re interested in reading a book that deals with grief/loss. The premise is very unique, and the book is excellently plotted. My only criticism is that it was a bit slow-going at first, and it took me a little while to get into the book. But once I did, I was hooked! A compelling read that I highly recommend.
Happy reading 🙂