After finding a mysterious photograph, a relentless young woman goes on a mission to uncover long buried family secrets.
The Au Pair by Emma Rous
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Published: 8th January, 2019
Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
Who is the child and what really happened that day?
One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.
Firstly, let me just point out how excited I was about this one. I waited months for it to come out, and every time I laid eyes on it on this book, I kind of felt like flapping my hands and jump from foot to foot. This doesn’t happen often, and there’s always a tiny voice that warns me, it may not be as good as I expect it to be. Well, not this one, my friends! It was pretty freakin’ awesome.
This whole domestic noir crap just doesn’t get old for me. Families keeping secrets, parents not telling their children shit, and then all of a sudden someone’s out there to get you. Well, excuse me if I go *squee*
I guess when I put it like that, it sounds like every other domestic thriller. But let me tell you why this is different.
We have a great setting. Summerbourne is no ordinary manor. Perched on a cliff, surrounded by an apple orchard, it’s a truly magnificent place. Emma Rous spares no detail either. So vivid, I could almost feel the warm summer air and sea salt on my skin.
There’s a really cool mystery. After her father’s death Seph comes across a photo of her mum holding a baby, shortly before her death. A death that will also come under scrutiny before long. Who is the baby in the picture? Seph, or her twin brother? People in the village have all sorts of ideas, and there are many rumours surrounding Summerbourne, but most has to do with witches, fairies and other nonsense like that.
The story is told in a dual narrative. Seph is playing detective in the present while Laura, the au pair narrates her life with the family in 1991. She was present at the twin’s birth, so she must know the truth. But, she’s nowhere to be found. Classic!
A family friend may play a bigger role in uncovering the secret than Seph would have thought, and perhaps some things should just be left alone. But of course we won’t leave them alone, will we?
On the surface The Au Pair is a dark and thrilling mystery, but below the surface there’s something disturbing bubbling, just waiting to be uncovered.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions are my own.