Rating:

Reviewed by Kathie Smith

The Girl Below is the story of Suki Piper’s return to London after ten years of living in New Zealand. With no job or family, few friends and little money, she finds returning home to be more difficult than expected. A walk past her childhood apartment leads to a chance reunion with a former neighbor and family friend, Peggy, who is still living in the building. The meeting offers her an opportunity to get back on her feet but comes with the price of confronting ghosts from her past.

The need to finally come to terms with her mother’s death becomes stronger as she is drawn further into Peggy’s family. Suki begins to question her reality when physical evidence starts to confirm her disturbing dreams and apparent hallucinations. It soon becomes clear that understanding a puzzling incident, which took place the night her parents held a party when she was a child, is the key to understanding everything.

The suspense of what Suki will discover, rather than Suki herself, is what keeps the reader involved in The Girl Below. There is an alarming lack of constancy and substance to Suki’s life that give the impression that she is a mere sketch of herself. Much of this disconnected feeling subsides as she comes closer to accepting and, in a sense, completing the events of that night long ago.

Both The Girl Below and the character of Suki are puzzles with several pieces missing. Many pieces fall into place by the end of the book, but others are left open in a way that will have readers pondering the possibilities long after the last page. Zander does a remarkable job of creating a strong framework for the mystical elements in her work while allowing readers a comfortable amount of space to form their own conclusions.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by William Morrow Paperbacks. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.