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Book Review: Only Daughter by Sarah Denzil

Another Advance Reader Copy Review … this week a new to me author, Sarah Denzil.

It’s available for preorder NOW on Amazon – with a release date of 13th March 2019. 

Only Daughter by Sarah Denzil

Genre: Thriller, Mystery & Suspense

BUG Rating: 4.5/5

Overall: I first expected this book was going to be a typical procedural crime novel. I am not really sure why though to be honest. I thought it would focus on the detectives setting out to prove the beautiful, talented school girl, Grace, did not commit suicide. I couldn’t have been further from reality…The story is really about a determined mother, Kat, unable to accept her daughter would kill herself, willing to go to any lengths to find out what really happened. But, actually, this story is also way more than that. It’s about people – personalities, life experiences, things that make us who we are. Kat is branded by her therapist as a sociopath. Kat’s past is so troubled and damning, did that contribute to her personality disorder? Did her past make her a sociopath? Is she even really one? Sociopaths can’t love, yet she believes she loved her daughter, which is what is driving her to uncover the truth. This is my first read from Sarah Denzil, who has proved herself to be immensely talented and I will definitely be looking out for more reads by her. Only Daughter is truly haunting, thought provoking and a cliffhanger; a read full of surprises and suspense! You really need to read it!

But then I remember that justice doesn’t exist in the way we want it to. The universe isn’t at our beck and call to right our wrongs. The universe is indifferent to us; we’re just too arrogant to see it.

Plot:

‘Your daughter is dead.’

When Kat Cavanaugh hears the words every mother dreads, her perfect world shatters. She takes in the beautiful long blonde hair, torn yellow dress and chipped blue nail-varnish. It can’t be real.

And then the police add the word ‘suicide’. But Kat refuses to believe them. 

Even when they show her the familiar looping handwriting and smudged ink on the note her little girl left behind. She knows her bubbly, vivacious daughter would never take her own life.

As she searches Grace’s perfume-scented room, filled with smiling photos, she uncovers secrets her daughter had been hiding. Secrets that make her wonder how well she really knew the woman her only child was becoming.

Kat’s determined to find out what really happened to Grace on the night she died, even if it means facing her own troubled past. But as she gets closer to the terrible truth, Kat finds herself faced with an unthinkable question: there was no way she could have protected Grace – or was there?


When I started this book, I kind of had an idea of how the story would look and unfold. However, a few pages in, I really started to realise, this book is not at all what it seems!

I guess I thought it would be centred around the police/procedural crime style as they hunted down the killer of this young, beautiful and talented girl, Grace. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The police quickly close Grace’s case as suicide and move along to the next. However, Grace’s mother, Kat, doesn’t believe her daughter would commit suicide, despite the mounds of troubling information she is uncovering about her daughter, she still doesn’t believe this is what happened to her.

During the course of the book, as Kat is piecing together her daughter’s life, we are faced with a frank and open dialogue with Kat. She talks us through the mask she holds up for society, how she buries and compartmentalises her past, and works twice as hard to make sure everything she reveals and how she portrays herself is “normal”.. However Kat is a sociopath, she feels nothing, she is emotionless, yet despite everything she believes she really loved her daughter, Grace.

She wasn’t a “loving mother” but in her own way and thoughts and carefully thought out gestures, she believed she provided Grace with enough love. Could she have been wrong? Could Grace really have committed suicide, because of her? Should she have done things differently?

Kat is questioning everything and spends her time hunting down any and all clues through Grace’s friends, teachers, acquaintances,to reveal who her daughter really was. She’s surprised by some of her uncovering. In her eyes, Grace was a good girl – oozing goodness – yet she uncovers a darker side she didn’t realise her daughter had … were there signs she missed? Was her daughter secretly just like her? Faking her every thought and emotion to fit in.. was Grace a sociopath?

The storyline is carefully crafted, focusing on both uncovering what happened to Grace, along with how Kat got where she was today. We learn a great deal about Kat – She married into richness, saw the life she wanted and went for it, no matter the cost. Originally, from a council estate she was determined to put that life behind her. We uncover some secrets along the way (no spoilers!) including shedding light on her up bring. Kat’s mother, an alcoholic, ensured Kat had the childhood from hell, never abused physically, but tormented mentally. Frequently locking the food up as punishment for small things… was that the source of her disorder? All this really bringing up the question Are sociopaths born that way or a result of nurture?

Sarah takes us on an incredible journey full of unexpected twists and turns, from Grace’s friends Alicia and Ethan – do they know more than they are letting on … mysterious text messages … her past. I absolutely totally fell for Kat. I loved her character, her openness with the reader. We get her inner most thoughts no matter how terrible and socially unacceptable they are. I felt for her. I connected with her. This is what made the writing in this book so exceptional. If you are looking for something a little different, which basically has it all. Look no further – preorder Only Daughter now!

I received a free advanced copy of this book from NetGalley / Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions are my own. 

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