Saturday, 13 August 2016
The Confession of Stella Moon by Shelley Day
Published on 7th July 2016 by Contraband. My thanks to the Author and the Publisher for my review copy.
1977: A killer is released from prison and returns home to a decaying, deserted boarding house choked with weeds and foreboding.
Memories of strange rituals, gruesome secrets and shame hang heavy in the air, exerting a brooding power over young Stella Moon.
She is eager to restart her life, but first she must confront the ghosts of her macabre family history and her own shocking crime. Guilt, paranoia and manipulation have woven a tangled web of truth and lies. All is ambiguous. Of only one thing is she certain...
Stella Moon killed her own mother.
The Confession of Stella Moon is a story of families and a story of identity. Dark and full of foreboding, this book opens with the Statement for court proceedings in 1970 when Stella Moon killed her mother. The atmosphere was tense, the plot taut from the outset and it hooked me in right away.
We pick up Stella's story upon her release from prison. Stella can't remember killing her mother, but she must have done. Stella returns to her former home, a boarding house and the author has managed to create an atmosphere that is as unhappy as the way poor Stella feels. It is not the sort of place you wanted to grow up that is for sure. Stella is searching for the past and she is searching for her memories which seem to be confused and jumbled.
A story of redemption and personal freedom and also an in depth examination of the Mother and Daughter relationship. There were some characters who on the surface appeared ghastly, that just added to the despair that I felt for Stella. The author has cleverly allowed the reader to form their own opinions and as such, sympathies can fly all over the place. Stella was let down by those around her and wasn't allowed the opportunity to grow up properly and find her own space in the world.
The author's experience in Psychology has made this book the triumph that it is, an exploration of memory and of truth and reality. A melee of past and present, I have found few other books as compelling this year. It made me sad in places and it make me feel angry and I think that it is a great skill of writing to be able to provoke reactions and thought.
I found this book so insightful and thought provoking and I find it hard to believe that this is a debut, if this is a sign of what can come in the future, well I will wait with bated breath.
About the Author:
Shelley Day has been a litigation lawyer, a psychology lecturer and a research professor. These days she mainly writes fiction. The Confession of Stella Moon, is her first novel and won the Andrea Badenoch Award, was long-listed for the Bath Novel Award, and shortlisted for the Charles Pick Fellowship and the Dundee International Book Prize. She spends her time in Edinburgh, Northumberland and Norway.