Cry Blue Murder by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Will anyone hear you cry?

Celia and Alice share everything – their secrets, hopes and the increasing horror that a killer is on the loose and abducting schoolgirls just like them. Three bodies have been found, each shrouded in hand-woven fabric.

From within the depths of a police investigation, clues are starting to emerge. But as Alice and Celia discover the truth, danger is closer than anyone knows. Who can you trust at a time like this?

Cry Blue Murder is a haunting and poignant psychological thriller that pushes the boundaries of trust and betrayal, life and death, from two exciting new voices in Australian young adult fiction.

When I first read Cry Blue Murder, I read it in two sittings, separated by a few weeks, back in 2013. I read 90% of it between workshops at a school library on the Sunshine Coast, but then I had to go home! So that was tragic. But terrifically suspenseful. You should try reading books like this. It's like having to wait a week between episodes of a TV show, which is a totally different experience to binge-watching a whole series on Netflix. I read the last bit when I was at another school, in another library (school libraries are the greatest, and just libraries generally) out in Western QLD. Well. It was certainly worth the wait. The ending is the best part, and it's exactly the sort of ending I love (yeah not the 'it was all just a dream' which I also love, the twisty, horrifying kind of ending that makes you sit there for five minutes after you finish the book), and I'm not going to say anything else or I'll ruin it.

I was pretty sure I'd written a review for it then, because when I reread the book recently I searched through my posts for it. But alas! That must have been in another reality. So I'm writing this review now, with the benefit of having read the book twice. I've been rereading more and more lately, because I read so much I am constantly pushing memories of previous books out of my head. It's great for everything to hit you anew, especially a book as incredibly creepy as this one.

(The combination of the title and the general creepy weirdness of this novel puts me in mind of the David Lynch film Blue Velvet. I've had In Dreams stuck in my head the whole time I've been writing this. But. Back to the reviewing.)

The story is told in documents - emails between Celia and Alice, newspaper articles, interview transcripts, statements to police. The fact that the story's told at a remove like this adds to the eeriness; the level of detail and authenticity in the documents makes it feel very much of our world. It's a mix of ordinary and horrifying. Celia and Alice communicate like normal teenage girls (reminiscent of Jaclyn Moriarty's Feeling Sorry for Celia, told entirely in letters), and it's a slow build - much of the novel centres around the development of their relationship. It's a very different kind of novel due to the format but once you settle into the story, it's compelling. Had it been written as ordinary narrative I'm not sure it'd be as effective, but there were some points where I really wanted more information (the internal reflections of certain characters at certain points would have clarified things for me). That said, it's a well-constructed novel, and reads like something that could happen in the real world (it's a cautionary tale without that being an overt message).

The novel's strengths lie in the uniqueness of the storytelling, and the skin-crawling creepiness that's evoked despite the absence of traditional psychological thriller scenes (nobody gets chased with a knife, you don't 'see' any violence, really) - it's pretty chilling. You're going to start thinking everybody on the internet's out to kill you once you read it. It will freak you out. I'm sorry. I won't say anymore. (Why is it so hard to write reviews that don't give anything away?)

Cry Blue Murder on the publisher's website
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