You know how some people like to politely warn you before they tell you something incredibly disturbing? They'll try to act all coy, like, "Are you sure you want to know? Once I tell you, I can't untell you." And of course, that only makes you want to know more, because curiosity is the devil, and you tell yourself that it couldn't possibly worse than what you're imagining - but then they tell you and it is so much worse, and they're like, "Told you!" ONLY DAUGHTER is that...in book form.
As far as publishers go, Mira doesn't tend to be that brutal. I've read several thrillers published by this imprint and most of them were light. Good - but inoffensive and forgettable. ONLY DAUGHTER is different. It's got a plot that's akin to something Gillian Flynn or Mary Kubica might think up.
ONLY DAUGHTER is about a young woman who looks very similar to a girl who's been missing for ten years - Rebecca Winter. When she's about to be arrested for shoplifting, she decides to capitalize on this uncanny resemblance, claiming to be the missing girl. Instead of being arrested, she's delivered into the arms of her 'parents,' and reimersed into the lives of the missing girl's friends and family.
What started out as an impulse quickly becomes a tangled nest of thorny lies, as the imposter attempts to trick everyone around her into believing that she is Rebecca, avoiding any missteps, blood tests, and exams that could reveal the lie. But the more she pretends, the more she begins to realize that someone might have had a good reason for making Rebecca disappear. And she might be next.
Wooo, I just gave myself the shivers.
Honestly, this is a tricky book to rate. The premise was difficult to buy, because I couldn't imagine someone just impulsively deciding to pretend to be a missing person just to avoid shoplifting charges. The premise hinges on us willing to buy that, because that's how it all goes down like a house of cards, and I was very skeptical. Once we get over that hump-a-dump, though, the story becomes pretty addicting. I wanted to find out what happened to Rebecca and what would happen to the impostor, and what she was running from (not all that much as it turned out).
Rebecca's story, though - man...that was, well. I have no words. Sickening? Disturbing? WTF? To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure what happened because the story started to get a little vague around the 200-page mark. Also, I should point out that there is a brutal, sadistic animal death in here that made me so upset. It was very difficult to read. Not to sound like a weenie, but I got choked up. Next time I go out to see my kitties, I'm going to have to hug them both extra tight. :(
I liked this book, in spite of its flaws. It was interesting, and heaps better than GIRL ON THE TRAIN. This was much more in tune with Gillian Flynn's style - although nobody can do Flynn like Flynn. Still, for what it was, it was more than decent and surprising in more ways than one. If you don't mind opening up a six-pack of the creepies, and like your thrillers with a heavy splash of WTF, you'll probably enjoy ONLY DAUGHTER. Just remember: once you read it, you can't unread it.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars.