x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

The misplaced loyalties that often drive the adolescent mind are expertly depicted in Mary Horlock's debut novel.

The misplaced loyalties that often drive the adolescent mind are expertly depicted in Mary Horlock's debut novel.

Set on Guernsey, an island in the English Channel, two convincing teenage voices from different eras spin together, both declaring that they are guilty of murder. Cathy, 15, believes she killed her best friend in 1985, while Cathy's uncle Charlie is a similar age when he admits to bringing about his father's death during the Second World War. Both foster an unhealthy attachment to a poisonous "friend" and tell harmful lies to try to save the relationship.

Their confessions are coloured with sad accounts of Guernsey's five years under Nazi occupation (people were so hungry they ate pets). Desperate acts carried out during that time have created a legacy of ill will, carried forward by rumour and heresy: "All in all, life in Guernsey was/is grim," remarks Cathy.

The idea of history repeating itself is well developed thanks to the strong sense of place that runs through these pages. Horlock, who grew up on Guernsey, nails the stifling nature of a small community choked by the dark memories of wartime.