Title: The Child Next Door
Author: Shalini Boland
Date of Publication: 26th March 2018
Date of Review: 25th April 2018
‘Don’t take my baby.’
Kirstie Rawlings is jolted awake by a child crying. Racing upstairs to check on her new-born, she is plunged into every parents’ worst nightmare. She hears an unknown voice in the baby monitor, saying: ‘Let’s take the child – and go.’
Is someone trying to steal her little girl?
In the bedroom, her daughter is safe asleep in her cot. Is the voice coming from a nearby house? But there aren’t any other children living on her quiet country road…
The police don’t believe her. And neither does her husband.
Kirstie knows something isn’t right. She thought she could trust her neighbours, now she isn’t sure. As she unravels the secrets of the people living on her street, Kirstie’s perfect life begins to fall apart.
Because someone is hiding a terrible lie. And they will do anything to stop Kirstie uncovering the truth. But is the danger closer to home than she thinks?
What makes Shalini Boland stand out is her knack of taking an everyday situation, and gradually weaving in shreds of doubt until they form a colossal web of deceit.
From the outset, this spine tingling narrative hooks the reader by taking a cosy domestic setting and dragging the protagonist into every parent’s nightmare. When Kirstie hears a voice on the baby monitor, she believes somebody is in her house and trying to steal her baby. This sense of fear is heightened by the author’s use of a first-person perspective which puts the reader right in her shoes.
When no intruder can be found, the police think the monitor has picked up a signal from another house. But nobody in the cul-de-sac has a baby; and behind them is a field. Did she really hear anything? Is she paranoid? Everybody around her seems to think so. But Kirstie is adamant she’s right and will go to any lengths to protect her baby: including putting herself in danger. Just as well she has a loving husband who she’s known since school and can trust implicitly to protect her. And a best friend who lives just over the road.
But can she really trust them? Do they have anything to hide? And then there’s the other neighbours in the cul-de-sac: from the weird widower next door on one side, to the pompous headmaster (who is also her boss) on the other. As well as the ex-school friend making an appearance, who just so happens to be her husband’s ex too. With red herrings galore, nobody is above suspicion and as soon as you think you’ve sussed out what’s going on: WHAM oh no it’s not. Tricked you.
This is another fantastic book by Shalini Boland, who is fast becoming one of my favourite authors.
Under Literature Love’s rating system this book has been awarded 5 out of 5 stars.
I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I recommend you stop what you’re doing and go and buy this book now! As well as having all the elements of a four-star review, this book transcends its genre. The language is original and compelling; characters jumped off the page; and twists in the plot left me gasping. This rare and exceptional book will be put forward for Literature Love’s top 10 books of the year.