REVIEW: THE AMERICAN GIRL, BY KATE HORSLEY

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When American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the dark woods, bloody and barefoot, she is subsequently hit by a car…and then discovered rather serendipitously by passers-by.

In a hospital, comatose, the police are at a loss to find out what happened to her. Even after she awakens, she is not very helpful, as she doesn’t remember the event…or her life.

Enter Molly Swift, a Boston journalist tasked with the story. How can she gain entry to Quinn’s room? Someone on staff assumes she is a relative, and Molly goes along with that identity. She becomes “the aunt.” Easy enough to pull off, since Quinn’s mother is dead and her father is somewhere, apparently not interested. That sent up a red flag for me.

The American Girl is told in alternating narratives, from the past, via Quinn’s blog entries, and in the present from Molly. Once Quinn awakens, she starts a video journal at the suggestion of her therapist and the police.

St Roch, France, is a very strange village, full of secrets, lies, and dark characters. The Blavette family, unlikeable to me from the beginning, seemed sadistic and dark. Emilie, the mother, was once a teacher, but something happened to a student—a death—and she was dismissed. The daughter, Noemie, a little younger than Quinn, was alternately child-like and seductive. Was she the victim of abuse of some kind? The father, Marc, had left a while before…and the eldest son, Raphael, seems to be attracted to Quinn…but is his game a lot more nefarious? Who is covering up the dark deeds of this family?

Then there is Freddie, a friend of one of the kids, who felt evil to me. Playing pranks, but with a darker agenda. Why is he always hanging around this family?

Inspector Valentin was also very mysterious. Was he trying to solve the case, or is his attraction to Molly genuine? How does he not realize that she is a journalist? What are his secrets?

The woods, the caves, the village…all are the perfect setting for such a dark mystery. What will ultimately happen to bring out the truth? Who will be caught in the mysterious web of deceit? An engaging story from start to finish, its ending did not really surprise me, as I had my suspicions for a while. 4.5 stars.

ratings worms 4-cropped***

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