Title: Cold Light
Author: Jenn Ashworth
First Published: April 2011
No. of pages: 352
Synopsis (from Amazon):
This is the tale of three fourteen-year-old girls and a volatile combination of lies, jealousy and perversion that ends in tragedy. Except the tragedy is even darker and more tangled than their tight-knit community has been persuaded to believe.
Blackly funny and with a surreal edge to its portrait of a northern English town, Jenn Ashworth’s gripping novel captures the intensity of girls’ friendships and the dangers they face in a predatory adult world they think they can handle. And it shows just how far that world is willing to let sentiment get in the way of the truth.
There’s something quite addictively compelling about this coming-of-age story focusing on the friendship (and sometime enmity) of three girls on the cusp of adulthood in the mid-to-late 90s. While reading it, I felt like there were constant warning signals flashing on and off as my adult mind could see the danger in the situations these girls got themselves into, but they couldn’t seem to see it themselves.
The jumping back and forth between the teenage years and ten years later sometimes jolted a little, but things quickly got back on track each time, however it was occasionally a little disruptive to the narrative.
The plot itself featured a mystery that seemed quite evident to me. There were pointers along the way that made the conclusion a bit of a let-down as elements of it were quite obvious, but there were other, more subtle moments along the way that meant it wasn’t completely disappointing.
It’s not a fast-paced novel, but it doesn’t drag; I was quickly drawn into the proceedings and felt I recognized the people, places and situations. It’s not the best novel I’ve read of this type, but it’s certainly not the worst, and it makes a refreshing change for the main characters to be quite dull, not particularly attractive or popular girls – it makes the whole thing seem more plausible than if they had been bubbly, bright young things from the posh end of town.
Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite