In this intriguing and gripping novel, Katy Gardner explores the themes of friendship and jealousy from childhood to young adulthood, and from both viewpoints.
The story begins retrospectively, and unfolds with excellent, graphic descriptions of India from the viewpoint of Esther, who has taken her childhood friend Gemma along on a backpacking adventure. We know from the outset that Gemma never returned from the trip - what we don't know is why.
Esther has a tendency to be bossy and strong-willed, always expecting the quieter Gemma to follow her lead, as appears to have been the case throughout the many years of their friendship. We travel along with Esther as she looks back on their trip, wondering what went wrong, and trying to make sense of it all with her. The strange characters, and mysterious and sometimes sinister situations, are introduced like the pieces of a puzzle, keeping the reader guessing, and wondering if all is not quite as it seems, all the way through until the author skillfully fits all those puzzle pieces neatly into place.
I loved this book, I loved the detailed descriptions of India so well written that I could see, hear and almost even smell the places Gardner writes about. I loved the central characters, self-assured, attractive, confident Esther, the rather more mousy, plump Gemma and the rather odd, somewhat enigmatic Coral. It's the kind of story you just have to keep on turning the pages of until you've reached the end, a conclusion that brings home the fact that maybe two people don't always share the same view of their friendship.