Book Review: The Girl in the Red Coat

The girl in the red coat
This debut novel by Katie Hamer has the trappings of a thriller. Eight year old Carmel, an imaginative and curious young girl, is lured away by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather after becoming separated from her mother, Beth, at a local children’s festival. As time passes, Carmel begins to realise that this man believes she has a special gift…

Told through the voices of the grieving mother and the missing daughter, it keeps you turning pages to find out if they will ever be reunited.

I am so glad that I gave this book a go. I started to get a sense of what it means to be brave, and how the definition isn’t limited to the ‘knight in shining armour’ stereotype. Bravery is lots of things, and sometimes it simply means taking that step towards moving forward in a difficult period of time and not letting time stand still.

‘Courage, I told myself, courage. Courage, I made one foot go in front of the other. Courage, up the steps. I found the room number, courage, I opened the door’

This beautifully written novel gives you an imaginative insight into the world as an 8 year old might see it. It is incredibly moving and I felt protective of Carmel throughout her extraordinary journey, which in turn fuelled my sense of how Carmel’s mother, Beth, was feeling as the days turned in to months and months turned in to years.

Is it important to feel so strongly about the characters in a book? Of course it is, you can’t fall in love with every character and I think your sense of like and dislike can teach you things about yourself based on your decision-making. I despised Dennis from start to finish, for his way of manipulating his actions to make them seem just. Tension crackled through the pages as Carmel struggled to adjust to fit in as part of a new and unusual ‘family’. My only wish was for a more solid and just end to the novel; I wanted to see punishment for Dennis stealing years that should have been for Beth to share with Carmel as she blossomed from a girl in to a young woman.

‘As he grows up her name will be that of a girl from a fairy tale. He’ll grow up and the world moves on, and on and on. I glimpsed something, the future moving in a blur ahead’

I believe we read to books to find out about who we are. The writing is open and honest and the thoughts running through the minds of the characters are realistic, the characters could just walk off the page. The essence of the book isn’t the classic ‘whodunnit’ and why, it’s a story and love and loss and how a mother and daughter cope with their separation.

stars for review

Have you read The Girl in the Red Coat? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!


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