A Satisfactory Thrill: A review of A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne

In the course of tackling books in my KonMari decluttering project, A Dark Dividing was very nearly earmarked for the out pile. It has an intriguing cover and it is a mystery story, yes, but I was being ruthless, and there really wasn’t much joy sparking going on when I held it in my hands. Besides, it is a paperback in a larger format – and I find this less than ideal. However, when I turned it over and read the blurb (something my tidying guru, Marie Kondo, tells you not to do 😮) – I realised why it had previously survived other decluttering sprees: two of its setting are familiar to me – Bloomsbury and Shropshire. I had to read it – if only to satisfy my curiosity, and then I’d easily be able to thank it for fulfilling its purpose and send it on its way.

The story centres on the events surrounding two sets of conjoined twins born decades apart, and how their histories are connected. It is told by several different voices – a generally popular and effective narrative tool. However, there seems to be no obvious pattern or structure to the way it is done here, making it feel quite unsophisticated and unpolished. The diary extracts leave a lot to be desired too: they begin well (or passable), but then lose their style; incorporating lengthy dialogue, clearly at odds with the characteristics of journal writing.

I don’t want to be too hard on the book, so on a very positive note, the author does present a meaty story with more turns and surprises than I would’ve hoped to expect. The shocks are notably effective, and it more than passes the time.

Alas, I read it and thanked it for entertaining me, and then put it in a charity bag and waved it goodbye as it left my home on the British Heart Foundation van. Satisfaction all round.

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