This one had been on my reading list for a while and I kept putting it off because a lot of the reviews made it sound quite creepy and let’s be honest whenever kids and death are involved we all think of every horror film we have ever watched.
So I waited for summer and the lighter nights to read it, so what’s it about?
The Foster Child follows the life of an 11 year old girl called Ellie that has suffered great tragedy and found herself in a new foster family following the death of her parents and younger brother in a house fire. She comes across a child psychologist called Imogen Reid who has returned to her home town after leaving her job in London and acquiring her mother’s house after her death. Imogen takes on Ellie’s case and soon finds out what the town think of Ellie when it appears that bad things continue to happen whenever Ellie is around. Is Ellie actually responsible for everything or is Imogen reading too much into the situation as a desperate attempt to save the version of herself she sees in this 11 year old?
Like all good thrillers this book kept me on my toes and every time I thought I had the answer I was taken off on a completely different path. I had genuine shock moments where I almost didn’t want to continue reading because I couldn’t see any good coming out of it. This changed my opinions about characters throughout and constantly kept my attention as I became more and more desperate to find out what really happened – I needed everything to be explained!
Throughout the book I actually loved Ellie’s character, well in that I felt sorry for her at times and then genuinely feared her at others. For me it worked so well because you almost forgot she was only 11 years old, you completely got swept away with the mentality of the town and believed she truly was evil. Instead she was a scared and vulnerable little girl that had lost everything important to her. She was the typical tough exterior but soft centre when anyone got close to her.
I found the overall concept of it interesting because it allowed me to see what things such as mass hysteria can cause. By basing it in a small town where everyone knows everyone it added to the idea of secrecy and scandal because all it took was for one person to have one story and suddenly this same story grew arms and legs and became fact rather than fiction. I loved the ending actually was able to show how easily an entire group of people can be manipulated.
This book managed to provoke so many strong emotions in me while reading and this was done so well due to the amount of emotions packed into the book itself, dealing with feelings of worthlessness, revenge, cruelty, hatred and even pity.
As much as I did find the concept interesting I still got so frustrated with how unfair the adults in the book were being to an 11 year old. First of all Ellie’s foster mother’s focus on a baby only added to the feeling of helplessness that Ellie felt along with making her feel even more unwanted, that despite her attitude, I’m sorry an adult should be able to tell that her acting out is a cry for help. Also considering that Mary was so against her own mother getting a baby should have been a big enough hint to the mother to at least have a real discussion with her children about this life altering decision that she has just decided to go ahead with.
I still managed to find myself being convinced of one thing and then another and I can see why even adults would be fooled into believing that Ellie was different, however I still feel that the one adult that should have been on Ellie’s side would be her foster mother but instead she chose to ignore the situation and focus more on her own desires.
Overall this book kept me on my toes and did manage to freak me out at points. I loved that the children in the book were more interesting and complex as characters, unfortunately the other adults outside of Imogen were very bland and very predictable. I enjoyed the ideas behind the story, focusing on problems such as mob mentality and small town thinking, seeing how easy it is for people to be convinced of something so unlikely simply by it being spoken about constantly by various people in one group. Also seeing how cruel school can be for a child viewed as “different” was heartbreaking but managed to add to the love I felt for Ellie. Ultimately anyone that enjoys a good thriller and a little bit of a creepy aspect I think would enjoy this just as much as I did. I would recommend keeping the lights on though!
Rating – 4.5/5