I have a feeling this book is not going to leave my mind for quite some time.. It was a book like no other I've read before and it got me completely and utterly gripped right until the end. In fact, I read it in one sitting!
This book contains massive life lessons. For example, it displays that lying is never a good thing and it never ends well, and that the imagination is a powerful thing and you use it to try and get over or mend things that bother you. Zoe exaggerates these two messages into a haunting story with unexpected twists...
The novel was based around a girl, Abigail, who is to say the least, quite insecure. Her parents both are in the army which means she never sees them. She frequently moves schools so the idea of moving to Cotswold Community College, her new school, isn't new to her. Except, she's full boarding. Abigail has always had a close relationship with her sister who she says is like a best friend to her, so she often looks to her for advice.
Abby admits she's not very good with people, and has never had any proper friends because she's so frequently moving from place to place. So, on the first day, when her dorm mates ask her if a picture of her sisters boyfriend is her ex-boyfriend, she figures it won't cause much harm peforming a little white lie to impress her companions that she was the one who went out with him. She couldn't be more wrong.
You could say the story is based around a girl getting through the first term of her her new school which is like no other she has been to. She has to get through bullies, homesickness and scary stories which creates her imagination to run wild. Having said that, it is not at all a classic boarding school- getting-through-making-friends kind of book, and the only thing similar it has to Malory Towers is that is based in a boarding school. Zoe's novel contains huge amounts of depth and the story definitely says more than just the words on the page.
It starts with Abby being intrigued by a magpie who she decides to name 'Grey'. She always sees him, and he's always alone. It's said that if you see a magpie alone its bad luck, so for good measures, the first couple of times she sees him she says, " How's your wife, Mr Magpie?" to stop her getting bad luck. It never works.
In her dorm is a girl who's been boarding since year 7, Scarlett. Scarlett is loved by both teachers and students and knows the school inside and out, people worship her. But, Abby soon realises there's more to her than just a pretty face. Much More.
I've got to admit, I have never read a horror book and they have never appealed to me. But, I would say this book is more of a gothic thriller which keeps you on the edge of your seat. I loved how the book was written and the imagery used was very clever and I was impressed on how many clever similes and metaphors there were! The descriptions were also equally amazing and it got me imagining the story in my head very easily. What I often find in a book is if the book is written from 1st person I don't get to know the character, but in White lies that was definitely not the case! I don't think the story would have worked if it wasn't in 1st person and it really got me feeling like I was Abigail. I laughed, screamed and cried with her.
The spooky twist nearer the end is definitely makes the book stand out from others and it created me wanting to read it again highliting all the very clever hints and clues throughout the book that you don't notice until you've finished the novel. I would say it was quite an intense read and I felt almost like I couldn't speak after I'd finished it as I was so stunned and shocked at the twist and I couldn't stop thinking about what it would be like to be Abigail.
I honestly could not stop reading. I desperately was trying to work out the twist but I failed and of course I didn't work it out until it was revealed the end!
I found it incredibly well written and equally gripping but I am going to wait a bit until I read another book like this, or another book by Zoe Markham. The reason is I did find it quite intense and once I found out the twist I found the story line a little depressing. Having said that, this isn't particularly a bad thing as the book has many important messages.
Overall, I will be recommending this book to people, but not if they want a light hearted book which is guaranteed to make them feel happy when they finish it. I definitely will be recommending it to people who want a book which will really get them both gripped, and thinking a lot about it, even when they've finished reading it. I would recommend it to people age 13+. It fits in to the YA section.