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  • Barbara Copperthwaite

Review: THE GIRL IN THE RED COAT, Kate Hamer

"Beautifully written, this novel paints gorgeous pictures with each sentence"


She is the missing girl. But she doesn't know she's lost.Carmel Wakeford becomes separated from her mother at a local children's festival, and is found by a man who claims to be her estranged grandfather. He tells her that her mother has had an accident and that she is to live with him for now. As days become weeks with her new family, 8-year-old Carmel realises that this man believes she has a special gift...While her mother desperately tries to find her, Carmel embarks on an extraordinary journey, one that will make her question who she is - and who she might become.


You’re in a crowded place, desperately clinging to your child's hand, and the little devil is in a mood so keeps slipping from your grasp. There’s that heart-stopping moment, where you think you’ve lost them…but there they are right beside you.

But Beth Wakeford’s worst nightmare happens when her eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, gives her the slip, only to be found by a man with a terrible agenda.

Beautifully written, this novel paints gorgeous pictures with each sentence, even when describing something as horrific as the loss of a child. It’s told from Beth’s and Carmel’s point of view, and really captures what both of them are going through. I went cold all over when the abductor told the simple lie that made Carmel go willingly with him… Author Kate Hamer particularly conveys well the loss, despair, and utter panic of a parent struggling to cope with what has happened, and the result is claustrophobic and evocative.

The downside, for me, was the unexpected turn the story takes about a third of the way through. If I'm honest, it wasn't because there was anything wrong with the book at all, it was simply that it didn't live up to the truly spectacular start - but then again, could anything have lived up to my expectations, which had risen so high? Possibly not. Even so, as gorgeously written as it is, as talented as Kate Hamer is, I do feel that the ending lacked something.

As great as this book is, it does come with a warning: if you don’t believe in the supernatural, or can’t make yourself believe it for the sake of a story, then you won’t like it.

For all that, though, this is a great book that is well worth reading.

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