Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Publishing Corporation for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are both high school seniors in the small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. When they disappear from a beach party one warm summer night, police launch a massive search. No clues are found, and hope is almost lost until Megan miraculously surfaces after escaping from a bunker deep in the woods.
A year later, the bestselling account her ordeal has turned Megan into from local hero to nation celebrity. It’s a triumphant, inspiring story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing. Nicole’s older sister Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day Nicole’s body will be found, and it will be up to someone like Livia to analyze the evidence and finally determine her sister’s fate. Instead, the first clue to Nicole’s disappearance comes from another body that shows up in Livia’s morgue. that of a young man connected to Nicole’s past. Livia reaches out to Megan for help, hoping to learn more about the night the two were taken. Other girls have gone missing too, and Livia is increasingly certain that the cases are connected.
But Megan knows more than she revealed in her blockbuster book. Flashes of memory are coming together, pointing to something darker and more monstrous than her chilling memoir describes. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you’ve been looking for.
The Girl Who Was Taken is the first book I’ve read by Charlie Donlea, but I’m certain it won’t be my last! The only reason why I’m not giving this a perfect 5 stars, is because I thought the beginning was a little slow. There’s a lot going on with Megan and Nicole, with switching POVs and timeframes, and it took me a few chapters to get comfortable with the author’s writing style, but once I did I was completely glued to the pages and finished it in two sittings.
Livia was my favorite character. She’s career driven and also shows a fierce determination to finding out what happened to Nicole. I can’t even imagine working as a forensic pathologist and having the ever present fear in the back of my head that the next dead body that comes in may be my missing sister’s. Yet Livia doesn’t let this effect her job performance, nor does it deter her from trying to find her search. Once Megan returns, and Livia finds what she believes may be the first clue on a body that shows up in the morgue, the two of them work together to uncover the truth of what happened that night. Other girls have also gone missing and while the police don’t see a connection, Livia does. Unfortunately, Megan is suffering from flashbacks and missing time, which further complicates things.
As the narrative moves back and forth from months before Megan’s and Nicole’s abduction, to the present, in addition to the tension rising, you get to see how two girls who started off as good friends, wound up as enemies, although this was mostly on Nicole’s part. And the odd thing is, that even through these flashbacks, I found Nicole to be an obnoxious, jealous, attention-seeking twit, I was still fully invested in learning what happened to her.
There were so many twists and turns, that all of my detective work wound up being wrong. There are definitely moments that require a little suspended disbelief, but nothing that’s over the top. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough because I needed to know what happened. The ending perfectly fits this harrowing tale, and while it leaves some loose threads, I’ve heard rumors there’s to be a sequel so I’m not taking any points off.
The Girl Who Was Taken, is a well written mystery and suspense story that’s filled with realistic and relatable characters, and will keep you second guessing right up until the end. I cannot recommend it highly enough!