Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mister Tender's girl by Carter Wilson

When she was just fourteen years old Alice Hill was brutally stabbed by two of her so called friends, twin girls who claimed that Mister Tender told them to do it.  The crime was shocking and sensational, not only because the victim and perpetrators were all teenagers, but also because Mister Tender was the fictional creation of Alice's own father.  The Mister Tender graphic novels had a cult following, including people willing and eager to believe that the demonic seeming bar tender who can make your wishes come true for a cost might be real.  The crime nearly killed Alice, but it succeeded in killing her family - driving her mother to move them from England to America, leaving her father behind apart from the occasional visit.  

More than a decade later Alice Hill is now Alice Gray, living a quiet life as the owner of a small coffee shop in small town.  No one knows who she really is and she likes it that way, it's one of the few ways she can leave the past behind.  Having lived in the shadow of the attack and the fallout of the breakdown of her parents relationship, living a seemingly normal life is bliss.  It helps her forget the crippling panic attacks that leave her gasping for breath and rung out on the floor, and it helps her forget that her brother is sick and depends on their controlling mother.  When a stranger comes to town and reaches out to her about her past Alice slowly comes to realise that she has not escaped from Mister Tender at all, and as her delicate grip on reality slow starts to slip away she comes face to face with what is truly means to be Mister Tender's girl.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Mister Tender's girl, but what I got was a solid session of reading the book from cover to cover without a break.  Carter Wilson has crafted a story that leaves you wondering where the story could possibly go next, a gentle dance through several different genre before settling into an ending that is gripping and ultimately satisfying without feeling too pat or clich├ęd.  Alice is a real person to the reader, well rounded and well developed, and while I have never suffered from panic attacks the description matches and gels with accounts from friends who have and nonfiction accounts of how they come on and how they make you feel.  Alice may have been a victim when she was first attacked, but she is a fighter and that comes through loud and clear through her actions and words. 

This book was a real treat and I have already requested another book from Wilson to see if it was the magic of this one story - or if he can keep me this hooked across multiple books.

If you like this book then try:
  • Mercy killings by Lisa Cutts
  • Cut short by Leigh Russell
  • Good me bad me by Ali Land
  • The slaughter man by Tony Parsons
  • Still waters by Nigel McCrery
  • Crimson Lake by Candice Fox
  • What was mine by Helen Klein Ross
  • Eeny meeny by M.J. Arlidge
  • One step too far by Tina Seskis

Reviewed by Brilla

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