Monday, 12 February 2018

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz - A Pre-Release Review

388 Pages
Publisher: Mira Press
Buy links paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK


They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She's determined to find out what really happened that fateful night--was it an accident or, as she's always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she'll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.


Well now, what to say about this book? I have no idea what I want to rate it, never mind how I’m going to put into words everything that’s buzzing through my head right now.

Maybe I should start with the easy part. The Lucky Ones is a fascinating, gripping, very well written, and captivating gothic tale. And yet, most of this story is deceptively light. There’s a constant glimmer of something sinister, but it’s barely visible. And, initially at least, any issue or contradiction is easily explained away.

The reader is very aware something isn’t quite right from the start. Allison hasn’t seen the people she considered her family for thirteen years and can’t remember any details about her last hours/days in their company. It takes a major upset in the life she’s created for herself since, combined with a distressing letter to take her back to the place and the people she hasn’t seen since she was twelve.

Both the house and those who welcome her there appear, at first glance, nothing but friendly, loving even. It was so easy to fall for Dr. Capello, Roland, and the twins. And yet, now that Allison sees her companions through adult eyes she can’t help feeling she’s missing a vital part of the story. And because whatever that story may be, appears to be connected to her departure and missing memories, Allison sets out to find out what exactly happened in the house that looks like a dragon.

I really don’t want to say a whole lot more about the story itself, about what Allison discovers once she starts digging into the past, except to say that it is, indeed, horrific, and yet….

To truly appreciate this story you need to be able to get caught up in Allison’s quest, share her revelations as she encounters them, and reach your conclusions as she reaches hers. If you’re anything like me you will be mesmerised, shocked, horrified, and asking yourself questions you’ve never asked before.

It was impossible not to get caught up in the tug of war going on in Allison’s heart and mind. Seeing her torn between horror and love, trying to figure out which was the stronger emotion was powerful. In the hands of a lesser author this set-up might have gone horribly wrong. But Tiffany Reisz managed to convey the events without ever making a moral judgement; conclusion have to be drawn by the characters, the reader. At no point does the author try to tell you what to think and feel.

There’s an art to making the sinister sound plausible, even borderline moral. I’m in awe that Tiffany Reisz managed to make me care about a character I should detest. At least, I think I should detest him.

I want to say this is a book you should try to read together with at least one other person. I find myself wanting to talk about what I’ve read, compare notes, and discover whether or not others interpreted events the way I did. If ever a book posed a moral issue or two, this is it. And, as I said before, I’m not at all sure how I feel about what I read and how the book ended.

I’m left with a few questions such as, how far would I be prepared to go to protect someone from themselves, or to protect the people I love? And also, what is ‘memory’ anyway, and can any of us trust what we think we remember?

I adore books that stretch my boundaries, take me by surprise, and make me think. The Lucky Ones sure as hell did that, and then some. I’m not sure how I feel about a book that makes me wonder whether or not there may be something wrong with my moral compass. On the other hand I’m in awe of the author for being able to make me feel compassion for a character I’m pretty sure I should hate.

On a much lighter note; what is it with Tiffany Reisz and men who take holy vows and then succumb to the lures of a beautiful woman?

Because there are plenty of light and funny moments in this book too. That’s what made the story almost deceptive. I almost missed the creepy because the characters were all, on the surface at least, very nice, charming and interesting. And Allison is the kindest of narrators. She wants to see the good in people, she looks for reasons to redeem or forgive them when they’re less than perfect.

So yeah, 1000 words later, I’m still no clearer on how I feel about this book. But since I would recommend it to anyone who likes a story that will challenge them, because I couldn’t stop reading once I started, and because I’m still thinking about the book, twenty-four hours after I finished it, I think I’ll settle on 5 stars.

“If I wanted to judge people all day I’d either be a priest or get a Facebook account” - Roland

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