Valentina is the stunning debut novel from S.E. Lynes and one that I struggled to put down.
Shona has, what seems to be a perfect life, her partner Michael (Mikey), her beautiful daughter Isla and now an idyllic cottage on the outskirts of Aberdeen. The only drawbacks are that Mikey works on an oil-rig so he's only home for two weeks out of every four and the other is that the cottage is out in the sticks so Shona is lonely.
When Shona meets another young mum called Valentina as she's dropping Isla off at nursery, the two women get chatting and it's not long before friendship blossoms. They meet up regularly for shopping trips, drinks and lunch but soon little things about the enigmatic Valentina start to niggle Shona. Is she really the person she says she is or is there another side to her that Shona knows nothing about?
I won't say anymore about the plot as I'd hate to give anything away. What I will say is that I loved everything about this novel. The cover is striking and full of clues if you look closely enough. Do you see three faces? There are only three main characters in the book. Do you see a cottage? That will be the beautiful but isolated cottage where Shona spends a lot of her time. Do you see anything else? There is something, but I'm not going into detail about it as you'll get a glimpse of that when you read the opening pages.
Written in the first person, I felt like I was friends with both Shona and Valentina and that both women were taking me into their confidence and sharing things with me and it gave me a great insight into the motives behind their actions, however, although like Shona, I had my suspicions about there being something 'off' about Valentina, I had no idea just how insidious she was going to be.
The sense of foreboding slowly builds over the course of the story, I found myself feeling more and more claustrophobic and I loved it! This is a very impressive debut novel from S.E.Lynes and if this how well she can write her first novel then I honestly can't wait to read her next one.
With kind thanks to Rosalie Love at Blackbird Digital Books for the review copy.