Book review: After The Silence by Louise O’Neill

There are so many books being published on 3rd September. I am hearing about it every day on Twitter, Instagram and throughout the Media. Well bookish people, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for this haunting book. Because After The Silence by Louise O’Neill is definitely going to stand out from the crowd. Huge thanks to Hannah Robinson from Quercus/RiverRun for my gifted copy.

Told within a dual timeline, interspersed with interviews and reflections this is the tantalisingly fragmented story of the unsolved murder of a young woman. Ten years ago Nessa Crowley, one of three beautiful Crowley sisters was found dead. Her body was discovered in the grounds of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s house, in the aftermath of both a wild party and violent storm. The extreme weather meant the island of Inisrun was cut off, so no escape route for the killer was possible.

Local suspicion fell immediately at the door of Henry Kinsella. And despite no concrete evidence that is where it has remained. Wealthy and popular before the murder the Kinsella’s are now cut dead by the local community. Their daughter Evie is away at school, growing increasingly disconnected by the day. Alex, Keelin’s son from her first abusive marriage has never been the same since that night.

In a bid to restore their fortunes and their reputation Henry has agreed that he and Keelin will cooperate with a new documentary. Australian film makers Noah and Jake arrive on the island determined to find the truth. But reopening old wounds is hard, and it becomes clear that Keelin is existing in a marriage that is far from supportive and loving .

With a backdrop of mystery and murder Louise O’Neill has written a powerful and compelling portrait of a relationship tainted by coercive control. Through the character of Keelin, through Jake’s own family story, through the lives women across the island, Louise O’Neill challenges preconceptions of abuse, detailing and highlighting the many forms abuse can take.

Keelin’s character is a master stroke in turning everything we think we know about abusive relationships on their head. Here is a woman who has escaped one abusive marriage. She has trained as a counsellor. She has worked with domestic violence victims. This could never happen to her again? Could it?

This is a empathic but chilling portrayal of power and control within relationships. It’s challenges and provokes. Perfectly plotted, this is an dark atmospheric novel with important things to say right at it’s very heart.

Rachel x

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