I review Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry.
When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.
Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.
A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.
I love a good unreliable narrator. It seems as if they’ve become very popular since Gone Girl and the like, and I can see why. The relationship between sisters is a complicated one, based on both rivalry and loyalty. Nora and Rachel are close, and Rachel’s murder affects Nora deeply. She becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her sister,
I didn’t understand the assault on Rachel as a teenager. Perhaps it was based on a true story, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I also didn’t understand how it related to her murder. It felt disjointed and jerky, but perhaps that was all part of Nora being unreliable.
Props to the author for describing Polperro exactly right. Being a Cornish maid, I know it well. And to describe loving Cornwall and loving life is, of course, something I approve of. Berry is a wonderful storyteller, and Under The Harrow is a great debut. The premise and build-up of Under The Harrow was excellent. It was thrilling and captivating. But the execution, and the big reveal, was sadly a bit of a let-down. It felt rushed, and it speaks volumes that I fell asleep at 98%, in the middle of Rachel’s killer being unveiled.
Under The Harrow is a short read, one that will grip and shock you. And with a few tweaks, particularly regarding the ending, it could be a fantastic read.