Peek-a-boo I see you… When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.
Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.
As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …
Originally from Denmark, Henriette Gyland (who also writes as Ella Gyland) has lived in London for many years, surrounded by her family, cats, books and the Scandinavian hygge she tries to create everywhere she goes. As a linguist she loves playing with words and language, and she's addicted to story-telling. She also believes strongly in social responsibility and sustainable living.
It was a nice mystery book, though I hated the romance part (as usual, lol!) What didn't convince me was the ending (again, as usual), I could have sworn the killer would be someone else, a more interesting twist in the plot. The characters were not consistent, their actions totally contradicted themselves lots of times, so it was hard forming an opinion on their roles in the whole mystery. Entertaining, good plot, interesting, I loved about 75% of the book !
Thank you to the author for sending me an ecopy of this book via Rachel's Random Resources in exchange for my honest review.
This was a romantic suspense. I don't read this genre all that often, but I love romance and the synopsis intrigued me, so I decided to review it. It's very slow going but at the same time it thoroughly sucked me in. In the first chapter we are introduced to Helen when she is 5 years old, and her mother is murdered after that it jumps 20 years in the future when Helen wants to learn more about her mother's murder, and she wants to get revenge.
Like I said it's slow going so we learn a little bit here and there all throughout the book. When I read genres like this where they combine romance with suspense or romance with a thriller etc. I only really look for one thing and that is whether or not the author managed to balance out the 2 different genres. I definitely thought it was well balanced, but it didn't combine them very well. What I mean is it was like so many chapters it would be all about the romance and then it would switch to some chapters with the suspense aspect, and it did that all throughout the book.
Let's talk about the romance aspect really quick. First off, they are immediately into each other before they have even met face to face. It's a see each other from across the room type of thing and they care about what the other person thinks of them already. I did like Helen and Jason together at times but there were times that he did things that contradicted his overall personality, and it just made me not like him so much and in turn it made me not so sure about the romance.
Now to the suspense. This is what kept me reading the book which if you know me you know I love romance so the fact that I wasn't sold on the romance is huge. Anyways as I've mentioned I was immediately sucked in. I wanted to know what happened to Helen's mother and why Helen was treated the way she was afterwards. Because it was so slow, I could only read so much at a time but when I picked it up, I never wanted to put it down and when I did have to put it down, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had my own suspects, but I was never able to narrow it down to one person until it was revealed to me. I did suspect this person and I have to say it didn't really surprise me.
The ending felt a little rushed and after Helen's growth throughout the book her decision seemed a little out of character. It seemed like something the old Helen would have done not the new Helen.
If you like romantic suspense that is slow paced with some twists thrown in, I definitely recommend you read this. Even if you aren't a fan of slow paced books, I think the suspense will hook you and make you want to keep reading it anyways so give it a try.
I first discovered Henriette Gyland when I read her novel Up Close, and it was amazing, so if you haven’t read it yet then please do because it is excellent. Having very much enjoyed this, I was very eager to start her latest release.
As a child, Helen Stephens has an epileptic fit and when she comes around, finds her mother has been murdered. When her extended family rejects her, she is handed over to child services. Twenty years later, Helen does not trust anyone, and learning her mother’s killer is out of jail, she swears vengeance.
Wow…what a book! I was incredibly blown away by everything in this novel! The words flowed beautifully and I became lost in this gripping and compelling read! I was even sat up late at night desperate to get to the next part.
The characters were very well thought out and written, I felt them come to life and their personalities jumped from the pages. The characters and descriptions of the scenes were so brilliant that at times I felt as though I was placed directly in the scenes with the characters. I particularly liked Jason, I warmed to him straight away and I very much looked forward to his scenes. Helen was such an interesting character – everything about her fascinated me and I was very intrigued to read about her and how the events of her past have affected her life in the present. To me Helen was a very realistic, lifelike character and that made me want to read more about her. Before reading this book I didn’t know a lot about epilepsy but I really feel as though I have gained some knowledge of what it is like to live with it after spending time with Helen.
There is mystery, suspense and a few surprises in store that I wasn’t expecting, and there is also romance too. The romance was fantastically written, the pace of it beautiful and it was just the right amount. I’d go as far to say that the romance is one of my favourite parts that I have read in a book in a long time!
I don’t want to spoil too much of this story, because it is one that is best going in without knowing too much, and letting it unravel at all the right moments. I had such a thrilling time discovering more as I went on and guessing about what I thought would happen. The novel goes at a great pace and at times I was holding my breath as certain scenes came upon me, there were shocks and surprises, and a few dark moments that had me in a frenzy to get to the next part to find out what would happen next!
This book has a rather stunning prologue – set twenty years earlier, written in the present tense – where five year old Helen witnesses the brutal murder of her mother as she sits in the back seat of a car. The alleged murderer, a woman called Fay with a clear motive, is convicted and imprisoned – but Helen’s memories of the actual event are confused, because at the time of the attack she was in the grip of an epileptic fit.
The main story begins twenty years later, as we catch up with Helen living in Goa, visited by a solicitor sent by her grandmother to tell her that Fay has been released from prison – and she returns home with thoughts of revenge. She tracks her down, moving into the halfway house where she lives, while resuming the relationship with the extended family who rejected her as an orphaned child, and slowly begins to uncover the many layers of secrets around her mother’s death.
The halfway house is owned by Jason, who has family problems of his own. His father is a sophisticated thug who tries to control his life, and it soon becomes clear that he also may have some connection with Helen’s family business – an auction house called Ransome and Daughters, where Helen works on her return – and possibly some involvement in her mother’s death.
And it’s never the best idea to try and retell a story, is it, when the author does it so much better? This was a nicely convoluted story really well told, with some unexpectedly sympathetic characters (and a few distinctly unsympathetic ones too), a constant edge of danger, filled with hidden secrets and satisfying twists and turns, and a final outcome (and a climax that had me reading into the early hours…) that I really didn’t see coming. Helen’s side of the story is really well handled – the damage inflicted by the trauma she experienced and being an abandoned child, the way her epilepsy has affected her life, and her own journey as she begins to take charge of her life and ceases to be a victim.
I very much liked Jason too – his frustration at his father’s interference in his life, his growing attraction to Helen even as he uncovers some of her deeper and well-hidden secrets – and their developing romance was one I enjoyed and really believed in. And I particularly enjoyed the well-drawn supporting characters – particularly the other residents in the halfway house (Lee, the mugger, creeping around in the darkness… and the wonderful Charlie), Helen’s grandmother and aunts, and the mysterious Russian uncle (complete with interchangeable accents – loved it!). And the settings are really well done too – the London underbelly, the day-to-day business of the auction house, and a vividly drawn Goa in monsoon season.
This really was my kind of thriller – more than enough blood and guts for the more hardcore reader, a story that repeatedly has you on the edge of your seat, but just the right focus on Helen’s journey of self-discovery and sometimes with slightly softer edges because of the developing romance. While some of its developments might strain credulity just a little – some of the links are perhaps rather more conveniently found than they might be in “real life” – I was entirely caught up from beginning to end in the story, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very much recommended.
(I read the newly-released second edition, independently published on 2 July)
There is always something about Henriette Gyland’s writing style that draws me into a book, making me unable to stop reading until I get to the last page. It was the same with ‘Up Close’ and now ‘The Elephant Girl’ which was a wonderful, tense read that had me guessing until the end.
One of the reasons that I loved this story is because of how realistic the characters are. The main characters instead of being portrayed as instantly likeable, are instead real. They make choices that we as readers may or may not agree with and they have real issues, things that affect everyday people, and this I feel is what made me instantly connect to this story.
Similarly to Gyland’s debut novel ‘Up Close’, the prologue made the hairs on my arms stand up. With simple, yet powerful prose that brilliantly portrayed the thought processes of a young child, we get to see the horror of what the story’s heroine, Helen, witnessed as a child, and how this has obviously affected her in the time between her childhood and her next appearance as an adult.
I loved the psychological elements to this story, especially seeing how having epilepsy made Helen shy away from forming attachments, from fear of disgust or being viewed differently. It is a sad reminder that people are often too afraid of things that they don’t understand which causes perfectly innocent individuals to be shunned due to a condition that is not their fault. I also loved the idea of Helen moving into a half-way house. In suspense and thrillers we see a lot of the bad side of criminals, but I loved how in ‘The Elephant Girl’ we were able to see that not all criminals are necessarily guilty of the crimes they have been found guilty of committing, or that they do not have hope of redemption. My favourite characters in this book were Charlie, a young girl who just made the wrong choices, and Lee, a mugger with a stutter who loves dogs. I love how they are depicted as human rather than as a ‘criminal’.
Which leads me to Jason. *sigh* First Aidan and now Jason, Henriette Gyland’s wonderful male creations have ruined me for all real-life men. I love that Jason believes that everyone has the chance of redemption and his fierce loyalty to his friends is breathtaking. Even when he doesn’t know everything about somebody, he sticks by them and defends them, which made me really admire him. His and Helen’s growing relationship was great fun to read, and I absolutely loved how he took care of her after she had an epileptic fit, and instead of running away scared of the implications of her condition, he accepted that this was a part of her and stuck by her.
‘The Elephant Girl’ is a clever, intense romantic suspense, that is a beautiful story of love, friendship, revenge and the hope of redemption. 5 Stars and a definite recommended read!
We begin with a prologue – the murder scene 20 years ago. My very first thoughts were that the killer, Fay, started something she lost control of … how wrong I was!
In present day Goa, we find out that Helen has worked in a bar on the beach for 2 years. She hides herself away from the world having been rejected by extended family, from peers at school (because of her condition of epilepsy) and therefore protects herself from emotional pain.
It’s monsoon season and a stranger dashes in out of the downpour. It’s her grandma’s solicitor. Not being able to persuade her to go back, his parting shot that Fay is out of prison, changes her mind.
Next, we find out about Jason Moody and the relationship he has with his father. An interesting scene portrays the ‘game playing’ Jason does to manipulate him. Derek (his father) capitulates on extending the lease for the half-way house and so everything is in place for his path to cross with Helen’s as Fay is one of the occupants of the house.
As Helen finds out more about Fay, she’s also finding out more (and becoming involved in) the family auction business. With her building connection with Jason, this all leads to some tense and exciting scenes!
I loved all the characters in The Elephant Girl, I don’t even have a favourite! It was so easy to be there with them as the story unfolds from those who supported to those who put obstacles in the way.
The romance between Helen and Justin has a natural feel. I don’t think I’ve ever come across two characters who fit together the way they do!
Hyland has obviously researched epilepsy, not just the physical effects but the emotional side too. The way Helen’s condition is a part of the story is portrayed with respect and honesty.
With everything interconnecting, there are several characters I suspected for the murder. I couldn’t guess who the perpetrator was but in all honesty, trying to work it out was peripheral for me. I usually like to work it out but I was so caught up in the story as a whole that it didn’t matter!
When the climax comes it really is tense and clichéd but true … nail-biting! I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
The ending? Perfect
I would like to thank the publishers for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I was disappointed by this one. I loved the setup, the writing was clean, the touches of India felt real and intriguing, but the story and characters just didn't really do it for me.
I felt like the story was kind of stuck between a romance and a mystery, and it didn't do either one well enough. Romantically, it feels like the characters are attracted because... they're both there? Because one of them is kind and the other is pretty? I just didn't really feel a zing of connection. And the mystery was only solved because of a villain-confession right out of early James Bond - "I will kill you, but first I will explain every detail of my evil plot to you. Mwahaha!"
Which I guess ties in with my problems with the characters. They felt inconsistent. Maybe it was a sort of under-emphasized unreliable narrator technique, but I felt like most of the characters were acting inconsistently. The hero resents his father and wants to be independent from him, but he has no guilt about throwing a temper tantrum in order to get his father to give him a house. (a HOUSE!) So, okay, maybe the hero is just sort of selfish and immature, but there's no recognition of that elsewhere in the book. And the heroine is angry and resentful. Excellent, I'm intrigued. Except it tends to come across as sulky and petulant, and she seems willing to visit and chat with the people she's really angry at, so... ? Even the secondary characters are hard to figure out. Charlie is apparently FURIOUS with the heroine over driving another housemate away, so why is Charlie insisting on coming along on a sort of team-building exercise when the heroine meets a contact? What happened to the furious?
It's not a bad book. I'm just disappointed because I expected more.
I gave this a C- at AAR, so 2.5 stars I enjoy good romantic suspense of all flavors. Thrilling, action-packed books that keep me on the edge of my chair turning pages enjoy pride of place in my library, as do gothics which build their tension inch by chilling inch. What doesn't work for me is total boredom. The Elephant Girl promised an unusual suspense story, but much of this meandering novel just bored me silly.
As a young child, Helen Stephens witnessed her mother's murder. However, she remembers almost nothing of it and when her extended family opts to place her in foster care rather than raise her, Helen's world basically crumbles apart. Now an adult, Helen lives overseas until news of her grandmother's impending death and her own inheritance brings Helen reluctantly back to England. The woman convicted of killing Helen's mother has also recently been released from prison and Helen dearly wants to track her down for reasons of her own.
The beginning of the book certainly sets the stage for all kinds of mysterious goings-on. Helen herself starts to question whether the "official" version of the murder is in fact what happened. And it's more than obvious that Helen's remaining family have some secrets of their own. The reaction of Helen's grandmother to her homecoming is not exactly what one would expect from a woman who opted to push her into foster care rather then care for her, and the aunt Helen remembers as being kind to her meets her with an odd hostility and coldness. And then there's the quest for the convicted murderer.
Once again Henriette Gyland has written a well-paced and clever story that features just enough mystery, thrills and romance to satisfy the most demanding of readers.
Helen has spent the past few years in India. Her mother was murdered when Helen was just five years old and she spent her childhood in foster care, despite the fact that she was part of a wealthy and important family. Helen has epilepsy and nobody really wanted her, she has spent her life hating the woman that she believes killed her mother, and hating her illness. It makes her feel vulnerable, and different. She really just wants to be ordinary. When, out of the blue, Helen hears from her step-grandmother. Her mother's murderer has been released from jail. It's time for Helen to return to England.
Jason has also spent his life wanting to be different. His father is rich and powerful, and something of a crook. Jason doesn't want to be like his father, he's determined to do good with his life. Jason runs a half-way house, for ex-offenders. When Helen finds herself on his doorstep, their lives become entwined, but little do they know that both of their families have big secrets and are linked together in ways that they would never have imagined.
There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged with this story from the first page. The characters are bold, well-developed and very realistic. The story is complex enough to keep the reader guessing but not too complicated to distract from the enjoyment of the story.
Henriette Gyland excels at combining mystery with romance and The Elephant Girl will not disappoint fans of her first novel
This is a great romantic thriller/mystery! I'm not going to say too much about the plot as I don't want to spoil it for future readers, but here's why I enjoyed it so much. First of all there is not one boring or superfluous paragraph, and the pace is really good. Gyland must have put a lot of thought into the characters' backgrounds and their environment. Everything seems to be properly thought through and researched, from the art/antiques dealing world which Helen reluctantly is dragged into to the epilepsy from which she suffers. The other characters, such as the stuttering Lee, the mischievous Charlie and the tragic Fay, are as interesting as the hero and heroine, with their own lives and demons to deal with. In the end Helen must learn to accept that people are people with their strengths and weaknesses, and that everything is not what it seems on the surface. In short, I love the realism of this novel. The problem with many romantic thrillers/mysteries is that the romance often softens the edges of the main conflict - or that the main conflict dominates the romance. I think Gyland has succeeded in creating a perfect balance. My only criticism is that I miss a proper surprise, a real twist, in the end. I think the genre requires it to be a hundred percent perfect. Having said that, I think it deserves 5 stars anyway as it kept me hooked from the first to the last page. I look forward to Gyland's next novel.
Novel set in Goa and London (“quite simply a lovely read”
Quite simply a lovely read. A mixture of love story, whodunit, with imaginative and intriguing twists and turns.
The story focuses on Helen – or Yelena as she was originally named, following her as she moves back from Goa to London, summoned back by her step grandmother Aggie. Although the locations are a part of the story, they are not that important in terms of unduly influencing the tale.
The young Helen was present when her mother was murdered. Due to her epilepsy, she had no clear memory of what actually happened. Fay, a friend of her mother was imprisoned for 20 years for the murder – unable to remember what had occurred, or more importantly if she had actually committed the murder.
Helen manages to track her down and moves into the house she shares with other ex-cons, run by Jason who sees it his duty to give others a chance at becoming part of society again.
Despite the co-incidences in the tale, involving Jason, his father and Helen’s family, it is a very readable book. Helen is increasingly convinced that it was not Fay who murdered her mother, following instinct and new revelations to discover the truth.
Henriette writes compassionately about epilepsy and the effects it has on sufferers, touching on how it affects those around them.
This book is about one angry young woman. And she has every right to be angry. Her mother was murdered right next to her. Her family did not take care of her after it, instead she was put into the system. And life growing up was not easy as she is epileptic and kids can be cruel. Not to mention that adults can be stupid.
That is our introduction to Helen. The book takes off when she comes back to England as her mum's killer has been let out of jail. Revenge and answers is what she wants. Her anger and resentment felt real. She was lost and she had never dealt with her grief. I liked her determination to find answers.
The blurb talks about a certain Jason, yes we all know these two will meet and fall in love then. But that takes time. Helen has her anger and wants the truth. Jason wants to escape from his father's shadow (as his dad is a crook.) Their "friendship" starts with lies and there is darkness over it all. But he is a good guy, I liked him and as Helen changes something grows.
But the book is more than that. There is the whole mystery part. What happened 20 years ago when her mother died? Was the killer really caught? There are many questions and she finds it piece by piece. And as the hunt continues it gets more dangerous.
The book has friendship, romance, mystery and suspense. And real characters.
I love the cover of this book and the title. I really enjoyed Henriette Gyland’s Up Close, so I was always going to read The Elephant Girl.
The mystery at the core of the book is compelling. Helen witnessed her mother’s murder, but she’s beginning to wonder how reliable a witness a 5 year old epileptic, who has just come round from a fit, could be. And then the woman who murdered her mother is released from prison.
It’s a well written mystery, with the drama taking place against a background of auction houses, smuggling, mobsters (both Russian and London) and ex-cons. The hero, Jason is a weird character who is fighting against his background of a privileged upbringing paid for by his father’s ill gotten gains. Helen’s character undergoes a twisting journey from someone obsessed with revenge, to someone who is finally at peace with who and what she is.
This is a very well written book. The plot twists and turns and the four paper knives that are core to the plot appear and disappear so many times that I lost track of one altogether. I did not see the ending coming and I’m impressed at the way it all turned out. I’m especially impressed that there was no shying away from the fact that messing with dangerous people is, well, dangerous. High tension, high body count, not much gore and high tension throughout. What else can you ask of a thriller?
The Elephant Girl is the second novel from Henriette Gyland and one of many new titles from Choc Lit, a relatively new publisher which publishes stories for women with romance at the forefront. I never thought I’d ever be a fan of contemporary romantic fiction but I don’t mind being proven wrong here and more recently by another of Choc Lit’s titles, Beneath an Irish Sky.
There are two key characters in The Elephant Girl, Helen Stephens and Jason Moody, both in their mid-twenties, who meet in supposedly random circumstances. Little does Jason know that Helen is a woman on a mission, determined to track down the woman responsible for her mother’s death 20 years beforehand.
In this cleverly plotted tale, the author successfully blends romance and mystery with a dash of thriller for good measure. Fear not, ye wimps (like me) who don’t fare too well with blood and gore, this is crime-lite, an ideal holiday read to put a smile on your face…or maybe an occasional frown as you might want to knock Helen and Jason’s heads together but then the path of true love never did run smoothly! - See more at: http://www.lovelytreez.com/?p=737#sth...
This was a great read and kept me hooked from the first page. As a child Helen is a witness to her mother's murder and everything in her life falls apart. She's rejected by her mother's family for reasons she doesn't understand. 20 years later she finds out her mother's killer has been released from prison and is determined to get her revenge. The intriguing and very handsome Jason runs a halfway house partly to get away from his wealthy father's dubious business practices. The more Helen delves into the past the more danger she's in, despite Jason's efforts to help. The twists and turns of this story lead you one way and then another until you're unsure if any of the people involved are quite what they seem. The author's treatment of Helen's epilepsy is masterfully done, showing the effect it can have on the person and those around them.
I love this cover of this book! For me this was just brilliant. I just could not put this book down. I hope many readers will buy this book and enjoy it as much as I did. Helen's mum forget's to give her Epilepsy medicine to her. In the car Helen has blue steaks of light blink in her head and she knows she is fitting. When helen comes to she can see her mum's head dangling funny and a knife besides her mum with blood on. Lots of twist and turns in this light thriller. My extra review is on ireadnovels.wordpress
Meh. The story summary was more interesting than the execution. Child who witnesses mothers murder, but epilepsy makes her an unreliable witness - to somehow skip past abandonment by her family to focus on a really dull romance. Poor book
The book opens with Helen as a very confused young child sitting in the back of the car and wondering why her mother is acting strangely. She hasn't given Helen her epilepsy medication and Helen isn't feeling good at all. Helen then wakes to something utterly terrifying. Her mother is dead. The book then moves forward to the present time when Helen is a young woman and living in India. A visit from her step grandmother's solicitor prompts Helen to return home. The old woman isn't well and though there's no love lost between them, she is compelled to go home when she hears news of the release of her mother's murderer.
Helen is so intent on revenge that it becomes her sole focus, yet things don't go according to her plans and Helen ends up living under the same roof as Fay the woman who she feels destroyed her life. And as if there wasn't enough complication in Helen's life including strained and toxic family dynamics, throw into the mix the lovely Jason and this book offers up so much in terms of romance, thrills, mystery and crime! However, there's so much mystery around her mother's death that Helen finds more answers than questions and her focus does shift towards solving the big question - what really happened to her mother?
The author has certainly tackled the issue of epilepsy well and the impact it can have on those living with the condition. My own daughter has epilepsy so I was curious to see how the author could write about the strains both emotional and physical that sufferers live with. I'm pleased to say it was very well done.
I'm always interested in books that explore difficult pasts and family breakdown and in Helen's case, total abandonment. Not only did the trauma in her early life have a massive impact on her but the relationship or lack of with her family left her searching for a sense of identity through her formative years and beyond. Her feelings of loneliness for me were palpable and this added a real emotional element to balance all the anger that she projected.
There are an interesting mix of characters in the book and all add so much depth to the story. Everyone has their own battles and demons, not least Jason who fights so hard to distance himself from his rather shady father. Given there are so many issues, thrills and a good old mystery to keep any reader fully captivated, it was nice to have things soften a little with the very obvious attraction of both our main characters towards one another, despite both doing their best to fight it. Helen in particular lives life in constant survival mode and who could blame her!
An exciting and well written book. Definitely a recommended read!
The Elephant Girl is a blend of thriller and romance. To be honest, I want so sure of this mix at the start. At times, it jumped from genre to genre and it was difficult for my brain to comprehend what kind of book I was reading. A few chapters in and it started to make sense to me and by the end, I found that the author created this mixed blend pretty well.
I enjoyed the overall plot. I found it to be interesting and it was something different for me to delve into the world of antique dealerships. Helen’s story was also really interesting and I enjoyed the chapters which she led. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of Jason, who was the other main character. His actions were quite contradictory and I couldn’t quite place him as a person. Because of this, I also couldn’t get on board with Jason and Helen as love interests. It felt too unrealistic.
While there were somethings I felt could have been tighter in The Elephant Girl (genre, characters), it was a decent read overall.
When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.
Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.
As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden
My Thoughts: You think you know who the murderer is right away but things turn out not to be that easy. It starts with five year old Helen witnessing her mom’s friend standing over her moms body holding a knife and is covered with blood but wait the plot takes a turn did Helen see the actual murder. We then go to 20 years after and her mom’s murder is being released from prison and all new information is learned. So is Fay her mom’s friend the murderer or did someone else do it. You need to read and find out.
Never read a book by this author before but it certainly won't be my last. What a fantastic read and great characters. A twenty year old murder to solve and a romance. Fabulous. Read it in one afternoon and evening it was that good.
The Elephant Girl by Henriette Gyland called to me when I read the description because it hit home due to a personal tragedy in my family. Although many may find the topic a bit depressing, I can tell you that Gyland has done an excellent job of portraying how a child who has witnessed such a horrible event copes throughout their life.
At the age of five, Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s brutal murder while in the midst of an epileptic seizure. Her extended family puts her into the foster care system and Helen grows up alone and bitter. When she is 25 and living in India she receives word that her mother’s killer has been released from prison and Helen sets out to get revenge. On her quest she meets Jason Moody who runs a halfway house to help those that are down on their luck, and partially to stick it to his gangster father. After getting to know her mother’s “killer”, Helen begins to doubt the woman’s guilt and she begins to take a closer look into the crime. As she gets closer to the truth, the person or persons responsible get nervous.
The book starts with the scene where Helen’s mom is killed and we experience the entire crime through five year old Helen’s eyes. She only has hazy memories since she was in the process of a seizure when it happened, but it seems like we know who did it right off the bat. We then fast forward 20 years and Helen is living in Goa, India, happily avoiding the real world working in a little shack on the beach. A lawyer comes in to ask Helen to come home at her step-grandmother’s request. When Helen turns that down, the lawyer drops a bombshell on her and reveals that the woman who murdered her mother has been released from prison. That gets the desired response and Helen packs up her life and heads home to avenge her mother’s death.
Helen’s grandmother has compiled a folder of information about the woman who spent 20 years in prison for the murder, and she begins to follow her to try to get a sense of who she is. In the market she has an encounter of sorts with Jason and he makes a very incorrect assumption about Helen that gets her really pissed off. Faye figures out that she’s being followed and Helen quickly lies and says that she is looking for a room to rent. She ends up in the room across the hall from Faye, in a house that’s owned by Jason.
As she spends more time with Faye and the rest of the residents of the house, Helen becomes less focused on her revenge and begins to wonder if she could possibly have a normal life. Bits and pieces of that horrible night start to come back to her and she becomes more and more convinced that Faye may not have been the one who killed her mother. Unfortunately for her and her friends, the killer doesn’t want the truth to come out and they must use all their strength to survive.
I love a good thriller, particularly one where the person you think is guilty isn’t. Gyland throws many twists and turns in the book and you go back and forth trying to figure out who the bad guy is. Helen has a chance to reconcile with her grandmother which was nice but the most touching moments came with the people she lived with in the rooming house. Used to being on her own and only relying on herself, Helen has a hard time accepting that she has friends and people that care about her. She begins working in the family business and finds out that she’s actually quite wealthy, but instead of heading on a shopping spree, she doesn’t even mention the money or her family connections.
I really enjoyed this book. As I said, it had personal meaning to me, but it was extremely well written and the characters were down to earth and easy to relate to. The parts that had Helen coming to terms with the epilepsy when she had always viewed it as a massive defect, were done really well. I hope this is going to become a series and that we will have the chance to see Faye, Charlie and Lee get their own stories!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The Elephant Girl is a taut, tense and terrifying thriller from a wonderful new voice in romantic suspense – Henriette Gyland!
Helen Stephens has never forgotten the day she witnessed her mother’s murder. Although her mother was killed twenty years ago, Helen is still haunted by memories of that devastating day – and of the miserable childhood which she had to endure in care. For the past couple of years, Helen has sought refuge and escape in India, a country she now calls home. Going back to England is not something Helen even dares to contemplate, however, when her estranged grandmother sends a lawyer to track her down in Goa, she realises that the time has come for her to return – especially as she has just heard that Fay, the woman who had been found guilty of murdering her mother, has just been released from prison. Returning to England will not only enable Helen the chance to ask her grandmother why she had rejected her when she needed her the most, but it will also give her the opportunity to wreak revenge upon the woman who had murdered her mother in cold blood and ruined her life. When Helen learns that Fay is living in a halfway house in London for ex-convicts, she decides to inveigle her way in, gain Fay’s trust and then make her pay for killing her mother. However, Helen hadn’t counted on the owner of the house, Jason Moody, who cannot help but be intrigued by his tenant…
Jason has spent most of his life fighting against the constraints which his father had imposed upon him. A self-made man who had climbed his way to the top to become one of the richest men in London, Derek Moody has always wanted his son to follow in his footsteps – yet Jason has always wanted to forge his own path and has spent a lifetime trying to prove that he is nothing like father, a man not averse to dodgy deals and breaking the law. Jason has never forgiven his father for causing the end of his last relationship and he’s determined to keep as wide a berth as possible from Derek. Jason knows that his father doesn’t approve of his halfway house – and he is sure that Derek would certainly frown upon his son having anything to do with somebody like Helen, a woman with a chequered history, a possible criminal record and plenty of dangerous secrets. But the more time Jason spends with Helen, the more he becomes determined to breach the walls she has built around herself and discover what she is hiding from him – and the real reason why she has come to London from Goa…
Helen cannot deny that she is attracted to Jason, but she must not let him find out the truth about her connection to Fay nor must he have the slightest inkling about what she is planning to do to her. As Helen begins to investigate her mother’s murder, she begins to unearth shocking secrets and cruel deceptions that seem to acquit Fay of any wrong-doing that day twenty years ago.
Will Helen ever discover the truth about her mother’s killer? Will her relationship with Jason put him in serious danger? And will she ever find the happiness and closure she so desperately craves?
The Elephant Girl is a superb romantic thriller packed with nail-biting intrigue, heart-pounding suspense, searing emotion, red-hot passion and edge of your seat drama. Henriette Gyland is a terrific storyteller who knows how to amplify the danger, leave her readers breathless with exciting twists and turns and make them care about the characters she writes about. I thought Helen was a fantastic heroine. She was a strong, determined and controlled character who managed to overcome all the obstacles that had been thrown in her way to become the person she wanted to be. I also thought Jason was a wonderful hero – sexy, honourable and charismatic, he is certainly the guy you’d want by your side in a crisis!
A spellbinding read that kept me up way past my bedtime, The Elephant Girl is a must-read for fans of romantic suspense the world over!
This review was originally published on Single Titles
As this is a review, I won't be going into much detail about the story as I don't want to give any spoilers.
I loved the plot of the book which centred around the mystery behind Mimi's murder 20 years ago and her daughter Helen learning the truth behind it. The story takes place in both Goa and London but the interesting moments happen in London. I liked how the author really captured Helen's personality quite well. I received her as being very free spirited while simultaneously being quite stubborn, guarded and bitter as her life hasn't been easy. Helen's Epilepsy has also plagued her thoughout her life and is also a significant factor throughout. Her quest to learn the truth about Mimi's tragic death (which she present at the crime scene at the age of 5 while suffering an epileptic fit) hasn't been an easy one but driven by her grief, she was determined to go to great lengths to learn the truth to put her mind at rest. Along the way, she had reconnected with family and met other individuals that would impact her quest. Through her family, she learned more about herself and her family which made her realised that not everything was as it seemed. Four other individuals from who she met in a shared flat for ex-prisoners also impacted her life (particularly two). One of which from her past and who could possitively affect her present and future with a romance. Throughout the book, Helen seems to grow as she gets closer to finding the truth about her mother's death and begins to let her guard down to other around her. Once Helen learns the truth behind the murder, she finds herself and others in a situation that would end badly but luck always has way of being on Helen's side. Overall, Helen's determation seemed to be in her favour but not without collateral damage.
I really liked this book. The story really moved quite fast and sometimes a bit to fast and it could have focused more on some of the more interesting moments of the book. It also had a lot of good multicultural references and a bit of diversity with the characters. It was an easy read for me as I finished it in four days. I discovered this book in Poundland as the cover and the summery caught my attention. It was joy to read and I would recommend it to anyone.
The elephant girl is a mystery thriller with lots going on, above all, as one expects from choc-lit, it's a heartwarming romance with plenty of "will they won't they" to keep you wondering right until the end whether this couple, both deeply flawed by past circumstances and so reluctant to trust anyone, even (or perhaps especially) family will manage to let go of the past long enough to allow themselves to become involved in an actual relationship.
Helen is "the elephant girl of the title" orphaned at age 5 when she was present in the back of a car whilst her murder was murdered, being the only witness to this event the epilepsy, which caused a seizure preventing her remembering the details, has shadowed her adult life and she has grown up feeling worthless and unwanted stemming from outright rejection by her remaining family members.
Jason has also had a difficult upbringing, yet he wishes he could distance himself from his wealthy, self styled hard man father and chooses a way of life his Dad despises - charitable and caring, running a hostel for recently released criminals.
When Fay, the woman who has served time for murdering Helens Mum takes up residence in Jasons half way house, Helens determination to fill in the gaps in her memory by shadowing Fay, she uncovers mysteries she'd never even dreamt of, it brings her onto Jasons radar and the two are drawn to one another yet repelled too as each seems to be part of the mystery and two people who find it hard to trust anyone are never going to trust each other especially as both have much to hide.
As the background unfolds and the characters develop the story turns into so much more than a romance. The author excels in weaving a clever mystery through a love story as proven in her previous novel Up Close and she does it extremely well, an enjoyable page turner with lots of tension and thrills and spills and lead characters you can empathise with. A super summer read to pop in your suitcase and take on your holiday.
I absolutely loved this book and was hooked from the first chapter. As a child Helen witnesses her mother's murder but due to an epileptic fit her memory is a bit hazy, rejected by her family and handed over to child services Helen grows up seeking revenge on her mother's killer.
After reading the first couple of pages I was totally sucked in to the book, resulting in a very late night and a whole day spent with my nose in this book. It was gripping and I became completely lost in the story.
Gyland has a fantastic writing style and not once during this book did I feel bored, the plot is well paced and flows well. I was eager for answers along with Helen and by the last 50 pages I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the big finale.
The characters were my favourite aspect of this book though, each and everyone of them are three dimensional and have interesting back stories, Gyland must have took an awful lot of time creating these characters and their lives. They're all entertaining and engaging and they really brought this book to life.
I enjoyed the romance aspect of this book and I loved how protective and caring Jason was, he is man all women dream of meeting and I suspect many women will swoon at the thought of him after reading this book.
I gave The Elephant Girl 5 out of 5 stars it was a fantastic, thrilling and engaging read and I cannot recommend it enough. Definitely one of my favourites of 2013 so far.