Review: Everything Is Lies by Helen Callaghan

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A (very) brief plot overview

Sophia discovers her parents bodies at her childhood home in what the police describe as an attempted murder-suicide. However Sophia doesn’t believe that this explanation of events is true, especially after realising that her parents were broken into four times in six months. She does some digging, finds her mother’s hidden notebooks and uncovers secrets from her parents’ past change the way Sophia looks at everything.

What’s good about it?

I read Helen Callaghan’s previous novel, Dear Amy, before and absolutely loved it. She is a brilliant writer and she has a great sense of what makes a thriller thrilling. Helen’s writing style is still the same Everything Is Lies, fast paced and well written. Her work is easily readable and what you would describe as a page turner.

The plot of this book centres around a cult, which is different to any book I’ve read before. I liked that this was a new storyline for me to read about, with a lot of thrillers often following the same tropes that lead to predictability. This unusual setting was enough to keep me interested, even at times where I felt I knew what was coming next. Exploring the weird world of the cult was intriguing and definitely helped with the desire to want to reach the end of the story and have all of my questions answered.

The narrative is told partly through Sophia and partly through her mum, Nina, through the notebooks that Sophia finds. The flitting between eras and narrators is clear and really well written. Nina’s notebooks are the parts of the book that in my opinion tell the story best. They really give you an understanding of why Nina fell into the cult in the way that she did and build up a relationship between the reader and Nina. As Nina is dead in the present day in the novel, this relationship for me is important as you want to know what happened to her and to have her name cleared. Nina ends up becoming my favourite character purely for her hidden strength and quietly feisty nature, something that without her notebooks being as personal and as well written as they are might have been lost.

The ending of the book has to have a special mention because not only does it round everything up nicely but the last chapter, Nina’s chapter, ends the novel with a punch. I closed the book feeling satisfied.

What’s not so good?

I don’t know if reading Dear Amy set me up to be a little disappointed in this book purely because my expectations were just too high. I loved Dear Amy and all of it’s twists and turns, but for me Everything Is Lies just didn’t quite have the same impact. The ‘twist’ at the end was one I saw coming as soon as Sophia found the notebooks and introduced all of the characters.

Speaking of characters, some of them I didn’t personally gel with. Whilst Nina’s notebooks were really well written, I felt like Sophia’s narratives skimmed over a lot of things like how she was feeling in certain situations and I didn’t feel much of a connection to her. I also found some of other characters such as Nina’s parents felt a bit two-dimensional and unrealistic which pulled me out of being fully immersed in the storyline.

Rate me: 6/10

Fast paced with a unique storyline, it is a good read, but Dear Amy still holds the crown for me.

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