Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kate Hamer’s latest novel, published yesterday, Crushed. I’m delighted to be sharing my review with you today.
Phoebe stands on Pulteney Bridge, tights gashed from toe to thigh. The shock of mangled metal and blood-stained walls flashes through her mind as she tries to cover her face so she won’t be recognised. It wouldn’t do to be spotted looking like this. She’s missing a shoe. She feels sick.
Phoebe thought murder and murder happened. Thoughts are just thoughts, they said. Now she knows they were wrong.
At home, Phoebe arranges the scissors and knives so they point toward her mother’s room. She is exhausted, making sure there’s no trace of herself – not a single hair, not even her scent – left anywhere in the house. She must not let her thoughts unravel, because if they do, there’s no telling who might be caught in the crossfire, and Phoebe will have to live with the consequences.
This is the third book I’ve read by Hamer, and there’s one thing that she consistently does – tell a dark tale so beautifully. Hamer really does write very well, she creates an immersive atmosphere with her words. Crushed was a particularly interesting read because it was a lot harsher, rougher, than her previous novels. Let me explain that a bit more, when I think of Hamer’s books, I think dark fairy tales, a yearning in me as a reader to save the characters she creates, so while the plots are dark, the read is soothing – I really hope that makes sense. But, in Crushed, I wasn’t soothed, I was consumed…..
Crushed is more than just Phoebes story, told from three perspectives, it looks at the lives of three teenage friends, Phoebe, Orla and Grace. This novel shows the relationships these girls have with their mothers and how great an impact it has on them; it also showcases what I can only call their toxic friendship. Though Phoebe is the one mentioned in the blurb, I found her the most horrid of the girls, which is completely understandable once you’ve met her mother; Grace was my favourite and her home life was the most interesting. Of all the characters, it was her anxieties I felt the most, she definitely came across as the most authentic. She was the one I wanted to save, to show her how things could be. But, I guess what’s important here isn’t which girl you favour but the exploration of how they were victims of circumstance, crushed under their home lives. Their immaturity shown through their jealousy and manipulation. When things are as bleak as these girls perceive them to be, taking drugs doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, but there’s one thing to remember:
“what’s done cannot be undone”
I have to be honest, there’s this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I missed something with one – this novel is dark, toxic, sinister, tragic, it works because the characters are so bold, and you want to know what awaits them, is this their coming-of-age? I’m also trying to be as vague as I can about the events in this novel, because I think the synopsis holds so much back for a reason, you’re meant to discover certain things only when you read the book, only when Phoebe, Orla or Grace decide it’s time. I’m under no illusion that this novel will be for everyone, and I don’t particularly think you should read too much into the synopsis; rather, go into this one with an open mind, be prepared to meet some strong characters, always expect the unexpected, and embrace Hamer’s beautiful, yet dark, writing – it’s simply captivating.
*My thanks to the publisher (Faber & Faber) for providing me with a copy of this book and inviting me to participate in the blog tour*
FOLLOW THE CRUSHED BLOG TOUR