An interesting yet jarring horror
When Annie disappears and then shows up again a day later she seems to be completely changed from the girl her brother knows and loves. What happened to her and how can her brother Joe, now so much older stop history from repeating again?
The Taking of Annie Thorne is my first book by C J Tudor and that perhaps explains why it surprised me and was very different to the book I thought I was going to read. I had imagined it to be a child abduction crime thriller, whereas what I got was a tense drama with a dash of the paranormal thrown in - very reminiscent of Stephen Kings early work. The story itself is told solely from the perspective of Joe Thorne - a very unreliable narrator with many flaws whose sister disappeared many years ago. He's back in his hometown where he suspects events like the disappearance of his sister are starting to happen again. The narrative flicks between flashbacks of Joe and his gang in the past which is more a gritty tale of growing up in Arnhill and Joe in the present trying to get by with his debts and bad habits. It's a good read and Joe really draws you in to his seedy world whilst drip feeding you what happened in his past.
I found the characters to be very realistic and interesting which drew me at odds with the paranormal element of what the boys had found underground. I kept half expecting the horror aspects to be rationally explained away but this isn't the case and it meant the book did jar for me in places. From the blurb I wanted to know more about the underground mine, more about how Annie had come back 'different' and I felt that it wasn't really explained enough for the book to have much of a paranormal 'weight' behind it. The horror aspect just felt a bit like a get out of jail free clause for the author than a great plot device.
Overall I enjoyed The Taking of Annie Thorne but I did feel that the paranormal aspects jarred with a gritty and realistic story of a troubled man. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Books UK - Michael Joseph for a chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.