Many thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review!
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
My first Netgalley read of the year was a hit! Going into this book, I knew it had great reviews, so my expectations were quite high. Luckily, The Night Olivia Fell mostly lived up to my expectations. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put the book down. It was quick and captured my attention from the very first page, with enough mystery to keep me excitedly reading more.
I’m noticing a bit of a trend I’m loving in modern Thrillers, and it’s the addition of emotion! In the past, most of the Thrillers and Suspense novels I would read would mostly be guts, gore, and evil. Today, there are more realistic motives behind the things that happen in these stories, allowing them to hit home on a deeper level. Many new writers have an understanding of psychology, of humanity, that makes each story more fun to dissect. The Night Olivia Fell was the epitome of this trend, allowing me to be immersed in not only Abi’s perspective, but Olivia’s as well. I was able to get into Abi’s shoes as a mother and Olivia’s shoes by my past experience of being a teenager myself.
“To feel love was to feel fear — you just couldn’t let it dictate your life.”
Though this book had this modern characteristic, it also featured something I love from older thrillers – constant guessing. I enjoy when there are many suspects in a story and I can’t place my finger on who’s motive seems most relevant. My mind went through a medley of wild ideas, only to have them crossed off the list as the story went on. I was impressed by this debut author’s ability in filling those holes slowly and steadily, as this is something many seasoned authors struggle with.
“But being cool and detached were learned traits. Loss and life had taught me to contain my emotions, to stay away from things that could hurt.”
In the end, I was impressed with this story’s pacing and how well it kept my interest throughout while also making me relate to the characters. I only wished the ending had possibly been slightly more twisty. With the various options and gamut of suspects, I was sure the ending would surprise me. Instead, it was more of the easy path to take with the plot, at least in my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed reading well enough and decided to give this book 4 stars. I look forward to keeping up with Christina McDonald in the future! She has a promising career as a writer ahead of her.
The Night Olivia Fell releases February 5th.