Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

An Arc was sent to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. Thank you to Quercus Books Publicity team for allowing us to read this and review it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if you were a parent and your child would be missing for thirteen years? What would you do? Would you give up hope? Or would you try to convince everyone around you that your child is still alive?

What if you were a child and all you knew of a family are the two parents that live with you? Would you find it odd that it is always only your mother that is still there? Would you ask yourself if you didn’t know anything else if your parents are happy? Or would you cling the normality you’ve been brought up with?

What if you were kidnapped and would be forced to live your life in a cabin? Would you try to escape even though you are locked inside, and there are no windows? What about the two children that are with you? If you managed to escape would you take them with you? Or would you leave them behind?

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann tackles these questions head-on. The story is masterfully structured with fragments of the story given at the right time and the right place. Throughout reading the book, I realised more and more just how brilliant Hausmann pieced together everything for me, the reader. It was like seeing a puzzle being built in front of my eyes. Clinging to every word that she had set on paper, trying to see underneath it, to make sure there were no clues buried underneath. Although this is Hausmann’s debut on the English market, this is her second novel, her debut being Marta schläft (trans. Marta sleeps).

Romy Hausmann’s writing will wrap you and pull you in a story that would leave you brathless and wondering until the very end.

Originally published in Germany and topping the charts, Dear Child is the perfect psychological thriller for new readers to the genre that are looking to see what a good and well-written novel can do. Still, it also pleases the readers that love the genre because it hits all the right notes.

Translated by Jamie Bulloch, I believe that credit needs to be given where credit is due. Bulloch captures perfectly the tone set by Hausmann and conveys it in English perfectly. Although the dialogue, to native English speakers, might sound off (or would require some adjusting to) I would remind them that the tonality and the structure are linked to it being a foreign book and needs to read as such.

I think—having studied German and living there—that Bulloch does amazingly and manages to make this translation make sense without sacrificing the german flair in which people would normally talk. This is noticeable, in my opinion in the way Matthias interacts with Gerd. Gerd being in the position of police officer there is an undertone of respect (even though Matthias disagrees strongly with the actions undertaken by the Police in the case of his missing daughter) when speaking with him.

But I digress. Dear Child is an instant favourite, which many will enjoy. The book is out with Quercus Books in the UK. Under normal circumstances, I would say that this book would be perfect for a holiday by the pool with the sun shining down on you. Still, regardless of where you are, Romy Hausmann’s writing will wrap you and pull you in a story that will leave you breathless and wondering until the very end.

I hope that Quercus will in the near future in translate Romy Hausmann’s debut novel, Marta schläft as well because I’m definitely in desperate need of more of her writing.

The Dinner Party by R.J. Parker

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

What would you do if you were at a party with your best friends and suddenly someone suggest you should play a game where you deepest, darkest secret could be revealed in front of the people you love the most? Would you join in? Why wouldn’t you since everyone else already agreed to do it. If you back down now, then you definitely have something to hide. And you wouldn’t want people to know that would you?

Let me tell you, The Dinner Party by R.J.Parker took me on a journey, my poor heart wasn’t ready for. There wasn’t even a warning to buckle my seat belt. No one told me what I was getting myself into. No one told me to take the day off and cancel all my plans because this book would devour my whole attention.

R.J. Parker is a master pacer, delivering a suspenseful story, without revealing too much, leaving readers wanting more.

Once I read the first chapter, I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I had to know what the hell was going on and I think that an amazing thriller does exactly just that. The Dinner Party follows a fairly simple premise. A couple throws a party for their friends. Once everyone has arrived and had a drink or two one of them suggest a game. What can possible go wrong?

There were so many moments in this book where I was happy that I’m and introvert and that I don’t usually go to parties. The idea of being so naked, so exposed in front of people especially from the perspective of the characters in the story who have secrets hidden, made me feel anxious. R.J. Parker develops the story at a very quick pace but without giving anything away. The characters are so morally grey that when the next day they find out that one of their guests had been murdered you expect that any of them could’ve done it.

Throughout the book, which I luckily picked up on a Saturday morning and finished it on the same day, I found myself saying the publishers name without even realizing. Published by One More Chapter (a division of HarperCollins) the book delivers just that. A nail-biting thriller that hits home with every chapter leaving you wanting more. The Dinner Party in my opinion solidifies this publisher as one to watch out for. Especially if you enjoy this genre as much as I do.

The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

There were so many moments in this book that I stopped and considered what I was reading. Although it isn’t what I normally would read, The Family Tree, tells the story of Amjad’s family and the events that it made fall apart.

I started reading the book as of the WellReadNarative’s Book of The Month over on Instagram. The promise of WellReadNarative is to bring to the forefront books written by POC and LGBTQIA+ authors that would normally wouldn’t get the audience they deserve.

The Family Tree by Sairish Hussain is a beautiful story about being an outsider family in the UK. The heartfelt story of this family is told out of mainly three perspectives: Amjad the father of the family that deals with loss; Saahil the son that struggles to cope with traumatic events and addiction and Zahra the younger daughter of Amjad who is left to pick up the pieces after their family breaks apart.

Crafted to perfection. Sairish Hussain is definitely an author worth keeping your eye on.

I found myself realising after a few pages that there were similarities between the family I was reading and my own. Although I’m not from an Asian family the way the elders try to stuff you with food every time you visit, the way the family pressures the younger generation to excel for the sake of excelling just to name a few, hit home with me.

The Family Tree is a beautiful story that deserves to be read. If not because of the marvellous characters constructed in detail like a sculptor would his work, the at least it should be read for perspective. Hussain manages to bring to the forefront a muslim family, their rituals, their day to day life in a way that makes me wonder why there aren’t this many stories on bestsellers list? It isn’t because the books aren’t good or that they aren’t written well. This book proves that.