Ellie Rook is named for huntress Finella who is in a folk tale her mother used to tell her all the time when she was a little girl. Finella was strong and brave and could do anything and Ellie’s mum instilled the idea in her girl that she was the same. Despite being close to her mum, Ellie could not bear living with her controlling father any longer and left to see the world. It would be the making of her, her mother told her. Now her mother has disappeared in circumstances worryingly similar to what happened to Finella in the legend. A phone call brings Ellie home to try to find out what has happened to her mother. She finds her father remarkably unmoved by the situation and seemingly expecting Ellie to fill her mother’s domestic shoes.
As in Sandra Ireland’s previous novel, Bone Deep, folklore and legend play an important part in this story as she weaves the story of Finella throughout the book. As I was reading, I could see that the story of Finella had parallels in Ellie’s family. There was lots of imagery which Sandra Ireland incorporates beautifully, almost poetically, into the story. Water plays an important part with the waterfall, a river and a beach all being significant. Even Ellie’s brother is called River. In folktales, water often represents death, rebirth and washing clean so it was entirely appropriate that water was so important in this book.
As Ellie begins to discover more about what has been happening at home while she has been away, Sandra Ireland creates a growing sense of danger which made for a tense read. Through her characters, she highlights impossible situations that people can find themselves in in their relationships and also how difficult it can be to get out, even though it seems the obvious thing to do to the outside observer.
This may be a relatively short read at just over 200 pages but my goodness there is plenty packed into it. As I read towards the end, I was turning those pages quickly as it headed towards a dramatic and climactic conclusion. A book with dark and dangerous secrets, I really enjoyed The Unmaking of Ellie Rook.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group Tours for inviting me to take part and for my review copy of this book. The Unmaking of Ellie Rook will be published by Polygon on 11th July. You can pre-order your copy here: Ellie Rook
From the back of the book
A single phone call from halfway across the world is all it takes to bring her home . . . ‘Ellie, something bad has happened.’
Desperate to escape her ‘kid from the scrapyard’ reputation, Ellie Rook has forged a new life for herself abroad, but tragedy strikes when her mother, Imelda, falls from a notorious waterfall. Here, according to local legend, the warrior queen Finella jumped to her death after killing a king. In the wake of her mother’s disappearance, Ellie is forced to confront some disturbing truths about the family she left behind and the woman she has become. Can a long-dead queen hold the key to Ellie’s survival? And how far will she go to right a wrong?
About the author
Sandra Ireland was born in Yorkshire, lived for many years in Limerick, and is now based in Carnoustie. She began her writing career as a correspondent on a local newspaper but quickly realised that fiction is much more intriguing than fact. In 2013 Sandra was awarded a Carnegie-Cameron scholarship to study for an MLitt in Writing Practice and Study at the University of Dundee, graduating with a distinction in 2014. Her work has appeared in various publications and women’s magazines. She is the author of Beneath the Skin (2016) and Bone Deep (2018).