The Secret She Kept - J S Ellis

First of all, a big thank you to BookSirens, Black Cat Ink Press and J S Ellis for sending me an ebook version of this publication in exchange for an honest review!


Anthony is left reeling after the sudden death of his best friend Lottie. There were so many 'what if' moments for them and he cannot believe she's gone. Then he sees that Lottie has left Anthony a series of video messages that act as her diary. Everything points to her lying in these videos, no one remembers the events she describes and little hints here and there suggest to Anthony something else is going on underneath the facade.


Initially I couldn't quite understand what was going on in the story, our main character wasn't formally introduced so the mystery didn't just shroud Lottie's death but the whole concept. As time progressed I did gain some insight into Anthony's mindset and what he thinks has happened but he doesn't follow a set outline of actions which just confused me further. He also has an unfortunate habit of over-explaining the background to each situation so that the reader understands what is happening, but this extends the narrative and gives it an unnatural feel.


I really enjoyed Lottie's video messages as a plot device, enabling to jump the reader back and forth in time without making it confusing. I did get the suspicion that Lottie wasn't being 100% honest with her recollection of events but the mystery surrounding that kept developing at a steady rate through to the end. This kept me nicely engaged and ended up with me finishing the book within three hours, this does lend itself to it being relatively short, but also that I really wanted to find out the ending based on the build-up.


The ending itself was amazing, I couldn't have predicted it and I'm glad I stuck out reading this until the end. Whilst the characterisation of Anthony really didn't stick well with me the ending and realisation of Lottie's actions made it worthwhile. Similarly I didn't enjoy Davian as a character but his development toward the end gave me a sense of fulfilment.


Overall, if you're looking for a quick read with a satisfying end and you're not too caught up on strong characters then you're definitely going to enjoy this. I'd like to have seen more fleshing out of Anthony to make him easier to connect with, his character seemed solely rotate around Lottie's death which didn't give him much depth. I'd also like to see a clearer progression throughout the novel, we do flick between Anthony's narrative and Lottie's videos but each time we revert back to the Anthony the story has jumped forward without any clear reason.


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