Saturday, 3 September 2016

Review: The Yellow Room by Jess Vallance

2016  272 pages  Hotkey Books

Sixteen-year-old Anna lives an ordinary, uneventful life with her workaholic mother after her father left them both years before without a single word since. However, Anna’s simple life is suddenly changed when she receives a letter from Edie, her father’s girlfriend, telling her that he has died and she would like for them to meet. Anna isn’t sure how to feel at first – she was estranged from her father but the news has still come as a shock, and so Anna agrees to meet Edie and they start up an unlikely friendship.  Edie is eccentric and warm and offers Anna the companionship she lacks with her own unemotional mother, so much so that Anna manages to gather up the courage to tell Edie about the troublesome secret she has been carrying deep inside her.

Jess Vallance is an author I’ve only just discovered this year but I can fast see her becoming one of my favourites. She’s written a compelling story about family relationships that had me engrossed from the start with its effortless writing style and clever story. I love books that appear simple on the surface; books that set up a straightforward idea which gradually turns in to something intriguing and becomes so much more than what you expected. There’s a sinister atmosphere which clouds the familiarity of the story – you can sense something isn’t quite right and you know that something is going to happen. I could feel it stirring within the pages and it’s executed brilliantly. I was completely invested in Anna’s story and her growing relationship with Edie, and the build-up of tension which echoed throughout gave the story a powerful edge.

The Yellow Room is marketed as a novel for young adults but I liked how this felt different from other YA novels. It isn’t clich├ęd nor is it your standard coming-of-age story; instead it’s a challenging and lightly thrilling exploration of a young girl dealing with complex human relationships. The story is filled with twists and turns so I don’t want to say too much about the plot but there’s plenty to keep you gripped: bullying, blackmail, secrets, and lies, all which make for a book that is hard to put down. In addition to being realistic and engaging, it’s also quick – you’re thrown in to the story straightaway and for a book of only 272 pages the plot and character arcs are very well crafted.

If you’re looking for something a little different then I definitely recommend giving The Yellow Room a go. It’s well written and thoughtful contemporary fiction which I flew through easily and loved every minute of it so I’ll be keeping my eye out for more of Jess Vallance’s work in the future. After finishing this I immediately went and bought Birdy which is Jess Vallance’s debut novel and it's just as brilliant as its successor. It’s much darker and the twist sneaks up on you unexpectedly, but it’s completely engrossing so I highly recommend checking it out.  

Overall rating:
4.5 stars

My copy The Yellow Room was sent to me by The Bookbag and my review was originally published on their website.
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