My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Bookouture, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Cavanaugh.”
The words that no parent ever wants to hear. That one sentence that completely shatters your existence, tearing your world down and all you can do is watch while the pieces of your life drown before you. Kat Cavanaugh is told “I’m sorry for your loss, Mrs. Cavanaugh.” after she reported her daughter missing the day before. This is not the outcome that was expected, and this was not supposed to happen. And when the police add on the word ‘suicide’, it just makes everything worse. But Kat knows her daughter, better than anyone, she knows that Grace didn’t commit suicide, Grace didn’t want to die. It doesn’t matter that the suicide note found in her dress is written in her handwriting, there must be a mistake. When the police do a brief investigation and find nothing that insinuates foul play, they rule it death by suicide. Kat however, does not give up, she is determined to find out the truth, even if it completely destroys everything that she built up. Even if it destroys the world before her eyes, she’d rather watch it burn than live in a world without Grace anyway. What follows is a story about a mother coming to terms with the loss of the one person in the world she truly loved, while finding out more and more that maybe she didn’t know her daughter at all. Truths are laid bare in this dark, gritty tale of a mother searching for answers to questions that only she is asking. But what will her digging reveal?
Only daughter is a psychological thriller that definitely keeps you glued to the page. I recently found a love for this genre, and I’m eager to nab any book that I can find with the title. This one does not disappoint. At first I felt annoyed because we learn early on that Kat Cavanaugh came from a rough childhood, that she’s not who everyone thinks she is and that she has dark secrets herself. We learn that she has antisocial personality disorder, read sociopath, so this is explored a lot throughout the book. When the ball starts to roll after Grace’s untimely death, we are constantly reminded of her disorder and that she shouldn’t be able to ‘feel’ at all. She’s constantly writing off sympathy given to her as the other persons NEED for it. Yes it annoyed me a little at first, but the further I read I though “hang on, this is a real thing, this is a legit personality disorder that people face” and after I thought of it in that light, I was fine. I couldn’t imagine living with such a disorder. Having to fake your emotions just to try and be seen as a ‘good’ person. So I’m actually really glad that this was such a big part of this story. It shed some light on a disorder that I know OF, but know not much about.
I found it really interesting the way that Denzil wrote the character of Kat. It was done so well, she is such a REAL character to me, she is so flawed and human. Running off rage and disbelief in order to get through such a terrible ordeal. And as we near the end, what she learns about herself is just wonderful. I love that this little bit of character growth was shown it just really added something else to the story. I can’t say too much otherwise I run the risk of mentioning spoilers which I try hard not to do. Just know, that the character development of Kat Cavanaugh is amazing, and I sincerely applaud Denzil for this.
There are other characters in the story (obviously, duh) but the focus is so much on Kat, and her experiences and feelings (or not feelings), that all the other characters seem to take a backseat to her, which is actually fine in this instance. It works really well for the story progression and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the story moved along at a rapid pace.
I feel that this story not only sheds light on antisocial personality disorder, but also just on the parent/child relationship in general. What parent doesn’t want to believe that their child is the epitome of an Angel. That they try hard, are such good people, and that they are loved by all. As the story progresses, Kat uncovers many things about her daughter to which she asks herself a few times “Did I know Grace at all?” I feel like this really brings home the realisation that, no one is perfect. You may hold someone on a pedestal, believing that they are sunshine personified, but in the end, everyone has flaws, everyone makes mistakes, and we’re all just trying our best to be the best person we can be (some people obviously don’t strive for this but I feel they are in the minority). I think that a lot of parents maybe forget that their children are more than just their children, they are people too. People with their own thoughts, feelings, emotions and personalities. I feel like all of us have a great fear of disappointing our parents and this is explored greatly throughout this book.
The story itself is wonderfully fast paced and had me completely glued to my kindle. I could not put this book down. As I said earlier, it is dark and gritty and it deals with mental illness and suicide is mentioned quite a bit. So if you find these things trigger you, maybe give this one a miss? Nothing is explained in great detail about the alleged suicide, but it still may be triggering for some, so I just wanted to put this in here. This book really kept me guessing, I had a few people that I had pegged for certain things, but I didn’t realise how deep the rabbit hole went until the big reveal and oh boy! it was a big reveal. It was executed extremely well and I’m sure I’ll still be thinking about the story as a whole for a long while to come.
If you enjoy psychological thrillers with dark themes and twist upon twisty turns, then give this one a go. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be keeping my eye out for other books written by Sarah A. Denzil.