Review of ‘Dear Amy’ by Helen Callaghan

I read ‘Dear Amy’ just after Christmas, and it’s taken me a while to decide what I wanted to say about this particular novel, but I think I’m about there…

When I sat on Leeds station platform with ‘Dear Amy’ in hand I felt as though my decision to ask for it as a Christmas present was fully justified. Every platform in the station held a billboard advertising the very book that I was reading, which I thought had to be a good omen.

 

And for the first half of the book, it certainly seemed to be. Like any good thriller there was plenty of tension, plenty of mystery. But once I got about half way through the book I rapidly lost interest.

The characters were bland and very two dimensional, the romantic subplot felt forced and unrealistic, as though the author felt a romance was needed and threw it in as a last minute edit, more than a planned, well constructed sub-plot and quite frankly, the main plot felt very underdeveloped.

The novel seems to rush to its end and felt very amateur (which I suppose gives hope to any mediocre aspiring writers out there).

We are reminded constantly of Margot’s troubled past and her mental health issues to the point at which this seems less a part of her character and more simply, the entirety of her character. Margot seems only to be a characature of what the author believes mental health can be summarised as. As though she’s taken everything she’d ever read on psychosis and subconscious memory and bundled it all into one character.

When we finally hit the last quarter of the book, which seems to come after a number of repeated chapters and page after page of Margot’s self-loathing, confused internal monologue, ¬†we are given the big twist. And I feel fairly confident that most readers will have picked up on the big reveal after the fiftieth reference to Margot’s troubled past.

 

Needless to say, this book had the potential to be great. In theory it could have been a great thriller. Sadly though, it reads very much like an first draft still in need of editing.

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