I’ve had my eye on The Foster Child for quite a while, and each time I saw the cover, it gave me this feeling that the plot could be extremely creepy – so I finally decided to read it…
When child psychologist Imogen Reid takes on the case of 11-year-old Ellie Atkinson, she refuses to listen to warnings that the girl is dangerous.
Ellie was the only survivor of a fire that killed her family. Imogen is convinced she’s just a sad and angry child struggling to cope with her loss.
But Ellie’s foster parents and teachers are starting to fear her. When she gets upset, bad things seem to happen. And as Imogen gets closer to Ellie, she may be putting herself in danger…
Ms Gilbert should be fired instantly! That was my first overpowering thought I had reading this novel. I won’t elaborate on the plot but for my first thought to make any sense, you need to know, Ms Gilbert is one of the teachers at Ellie’s school. My second over powering thought was – wow, kids can be so cruel. Early on in my read, I felt immense empathy for Ellie, this poor girl, who lost her family in a fire is being shunned by adults and children alike – the victim of awful bullying. The short chapters in this novel had me turning the pages furiously because I had to know if I was right to feel empathy for Ellie or if everyone was just in their fear of her.
Interestingly, I didn’t really like Imogen and never took to her throughout the entire novel, but this didn’t dampen my read at all – I just couldn’t abide by how drastically she broke the boundaries of her role in Ellie’s life. But seeing her get closer to Ellie, I just knew it wasn’t going to end well and this excited me. The further into this novel I got, the stronger the emotional elements became and when emotions are running high, anything is possible – and that kept me guessing right up until Blackhurst was ready to reveal her master plan.
The Foster Child has this almost, but not quite, paranormal atmosphere to it – Blackhurst’s writing, combined with the plot, created this creepy aura that gave me a real sense of unease. Not in a horror-novel kind of way, but initially I felt there’s no way bad things could happen just because Ellie got upset, but then I wasn’t so sure. This unease, the notion that something is not quite right but I can’t put my finger on quite what was one of the things I found so captivating about this novel. This is an intense read; the characters believe what they believe so strongly that you get caught up in their emotions and it skews your own beliefs to the point where you’re not even sure what you believe any more.
I’m a lover of novels set in a small-town, everything is intensified ten-fold and that just served to heighten my reading experience. I have to say, I really enjoyed this novel, much more than I anticipated I would, and I’m so glad I didn’t overlook it. I absolutely recommend The Foster Child, it’s subtly disturbing in a way that only child protagonists can deliver – no one wants to believe a child is evil, but sometimes you just can’t shake that unsettling feeling…