The Girl Before - JP Delaney

Jane goes through something traumatic and needs a change and One Folgate Street could be the perfect starting point. This minimalist home boats wide open spaces and a state-of-the-art system. Jane needs stability, this home can offer her that and so can it's architect, Edward. Jane isn't the first person to think this, Emma was in the exact same position a few years previous and mysteriously died before she could vacate the premises. Can Jane figure out what happened before her time comes to an end as well?


Hearing lots of positive reviews can be pretty damning for a new reader as there is so much hype to live up to. I'd heard nothing but good things about this novel but was admittedly sceptical as to how good it would be as the synopsis sounded a bit weak to me. Initially I was not a fan of the writing style, Emma quickly becomes the 'past' of the current narrative but for some reason the author decided that any speech in these chapters shouldn't have speech marks. This only made keeping track of what was happening more difficult, I had to backtrack countless times to check whether what I just read was speech or something actually happening to Emma.


I'm not sure what the fascination of making unlikable characters is at the moment but none of the main characters in this book actually made me want a happy ending for them. Emma changed too quickly into the submissive for Edward for it to have not been a major part of her character from the off. Her manipulation turned me against her as soon as the first lie had unfolded. Jane was difficult to understand from a reader's perspective, she had been through a horrible loss (and I cannot make a knowledgeable decision without having been through it myself) but was still being a difficult person and making her problem everyone's problem. The world did not revolve around her and I am getting a shorter fuse for stupid women who refuse to see warning signs right in front of their faces. WAKE UP WOMAN, YOU'RE IN DANGER.


The ending was something I have to congratulate Delaney on, *spoiler* having Simon turn around and be the danger was ingenious. Using Edward's pathological fixation with Emma and Jane against him to frame him for the murder of Emma was brilliant. Edward was already a manipulative emotional abuser and Simon could see that but his need to control Emma was just as strong. I caught on to him being our bad guy at the point Jane should have. How did he know you were 15 weeks along Jane?!


I thoroughly enjoyed the concept of the story. A seemingly know-it-all house that makes us better by relinquishing us of possessions, the owner of this house then makes his move on the women who move in. The disappointing thing is that the characters let down the narrative, they are all as unlikable as each other and there is no significant progression for any of them. I would also like to add, as a young person myself, adding "like" to the start of dialogue does not make the character seem younger, it just comes across as lazy character portrayal.


This initially started as a 3 star because the story really did make up those last few points for me but actually, this is 2 stars purely because writing this review made me realise I didn't like this book at all other than the concept, oh and short chapters are always appreciated.




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