If you’re looking for a book which could get you into the psychological fiction ‘thriller’ genre, The Shadow Bird by Ann Gosslin might be for you.
Three months into her new role as a psychiatrist at a clinic in New York, Erin Cartwright is asked to evaluate the case of a man who murdered his mother and sisters at the age of seventeen.
Found not guilty by reason of insanity and held in a maximum-security psychiatric facility for twenty-seven years, Timothy Stern is now eligible for release.
Upon learning the crime occurred in the same village she once visited as a child, Erin is on the verge of refusing to take the case, when a startling discovery triggers memories she’d rather keep hidden, and a suspicion the wrong man is behind bars.
Erin had a rich backstory and you were teased with information
Based on the plot, I thought this book was going to be a thriller. I definitely wouldn’t market it as this, as you’re always waiting for that big build-up and shocking conclusion.
It’s not particularly fast-paced but is interesting in the plot; it focused a lot on mental health and how people react to trauma, through many different characters (some directly or indirectly). There isn’t too much gore (minor paragraphs of the crime itself, but not too descriptive) and lots of conversation, so it makes for an easy read.
Erin had a rich backstory and you were teased with information, and I liked the way the author’s written this – very clear descriptions and allows you to imagine everything very well.
Chapters jump back and forth between the past and present, and then between Erin and Timothy – I would’ve preferred if it was just the present time between the characters, especially focusing on Timothy’s mental state, with the odd past chapter thrown in at the end.
There is a small romance element, and if this was marketed as general fiction, I’d really like this aspect. It felt like it was added as a filler but allowed us to understand more about Erin, so is understandable as to why this was put in.
I thought the ending was great – it closed the story well and wasn’t quick – actually leaving quite a nice message for the reader to take away.
I really didn’t get the ‘thriller’ vibe (although perhaps I’m desensitized with all the thrillers I read) – it didn’t tick the boxes for me, and felt more like general fiction, especially with the character analysis and the way it ended. In my opinion, it sits around a 2-star.
The Shadow Bird, Ann Gosslin, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Publisher: Legend Press