Book Review: Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

Back in February, I was given Cuckoo by Sophie Draper as a birthday present. I often read around the globe, so it was a pleasant change to read something set so close to home here in Derbyshire. I loved the references to Derby, Ashbourne, Carsington Water, and at one point the protagonist surely drove up the A52, pretty much waving at my house on the way!

Having known nothing about the book as I was given it, I discovered it was a psychological thriller. The protagonist Caro returns home to a small Derbyshire village following the death of her step-mother. She is escaping an abusive relationship in London and the timing to move in and clear out the house seems perfect. But weird things start to happen in the house and Caro begins to doubt her own mind. Over the course of the book, a family secret is revealed of which Caro has no memory and the scent of revenge is in the air.

One of the other things I really enjoyed about this book was its descriptive language. Caro is an illustrator working on a commission for illustrations to accompany some fairy tales. But not the happy, floaty fairy tales that perhaps spring to mind; these ones are dark and dangerous. Through Draper’s descriptions, I could really conjure up the pictures in my mind and not only that, the image of Caro working at the table to create them. I also loved how Caro explained to Craig about her passion for drawing and how she experiences life through colour, with words becoming images that dance, leap and spin.

There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing. The only word of caution I would have is that the ending is left somewhat ambiguous. If you like a thriller with all the ends tied up neatly, this probably isn’t the one for you. I still have days where I wonder what happened to Caro in the end. Did she get her happy ending? I’ve seen that Sophie Draper is due to appear at the Derby Book Festival in June. Perhaps I’ll go and ask her!

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