REVIEW: The Weight Of Small Things by Julie Lancaster

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Read this book for: unconventional storytelling, suspense, thriller, unreliable narrators, domestic mystery
Quick Review: Chilling, unsettling and surprisingly dark; a unique book that has to be experienced.

Nine-year-old Frankie Appleton likes to count gates.
One day she hopes to design the perfect gate – a gate to keep the bad things out.
Little does she know that the bad things have already got in.
Now her mother is dead, and the only other person with a house key has disappeared.
Frankie thinks she knows who it is. But first she has to prove it.

THE WEIGHT OF SMALL THINGS is a brand new novel by Julie Lancaster, which follows the web of stories spun around a nine-year-old girl, Frankie Appleton. Her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, but as she sets out trying to prove that her mother was murdered, the story spins out to her past, her mother’s past, and the dangers that lurk around her.

This is not a book for those looking for a cozy whodunnit. This novel is an experience, as you are drawn through the lenses of a list of characters who all have a particularly distorted and unreliable lens way that they see the world. It depicts mental illness in a vivid, visceral, uncomfortably realistic way. Parsing the reality of the story through the twists and turns of some very disturbed individuals is not for the faint of heart or the easily unsettled. There are moments and twists that will trouble even veteran horror readers.

And despite being a fantastic whodunnit, which twists and turns and keeps you guessing, the ultimate point of the novel at some point stops being what happened — whether or not there was a murder and who was responsible — and more about what happens to each of the individual characters (friends, neighbours, family members) through which the story is told. It’s an absolutely fascinating dissection of some very particular worldviews and every character has a much darker side than you would imagine.

A major part of what will compel you to keep turning pages is the element of suspense that Lancaster has layered in so subtly that you don’t realize that it’s there. You simply find yourself tense, worried about Frankie and what might happen to her. The subtlety, combined with the unpredictable, unstable nature of so many of the characters, makes that tension so much stronger than most straightforward ’suspense’ novels.

This novel will disturb you, but you will not be able to put it down. THE WEIGHT OF SMALL THINGS is a masterfully crafted novel that you have to experience to understand.

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