The Night Village (Zoe Deleuil, Fremantle Press)
A year ago, Paul and Simone met at a party—young, carefree and living separate lives. Now, they’re parents to a tiny new baby and nothing between them is the same. Simone has moved into Paul’s sterile apartment building, high above London and far removed from the world below. She’s continents away from her family in Perth, and every part of being a new parent overwhelms her. When Paul’s cousin Rachel asks to stay in their spare room, offering to help out, it seems like both a tempting and terrible offer. But Rachel is family, and it’s impossible to say no. When Rachel arrives, there’s an immediate shift in Simone’s already shaky world. The assistance offered is paltry, there’s something unsaid between the cousins, and every moment Rachel spends with the baby sets Simone on edge. Is it just that the two women can’t connect, or is it something much more sinister? It’s a testament to the skill of a writer that they can create a fictional story so intense that you read frenetically, desperate to find out what happens in the end. Zoe Deleuil has achieved that with The Night Village in spades, writing a harrowing tale wedged so firmly in reality that the cold London air and the tension of life with a newborn seem palpable. As a parent, the heady writing sent me right back to those hazy days of confusion, sleep deprivation and shattered self-confidence; as a reader, Deleuil’s unnerving ability to infuse every moment with tension without letting go of pace makes for a gripping read. Filled with the same haunting unease as Anna Downes’s The Safe Place and Petronella McGovern’s Six Minutes, The Night Village is an exceptional psychological thriller.
Fiona Hardy is a children’s author and a bookseller at Readings Carlton. Read her interview with Zoe Deleuil about The Night Village here.