I saw Cat Clarke as part of a YALC panel last year, where I think she described herself as “someone who writes books about teenagers being horrible to each other”. If you’ve read any of her books before, you’ll know that the UKYA author was making a pretty massive understatement – Her books are brutal, fast, harsh and emotionally encompassing. The Lost and The Found promised to be just dark, twisting and deeply unsettling, and I dived into it with my heart open and ready to get hurt.
Laurel Logan went missing when she was just six years old, kidnapped from her front garden whilst her and her younger sister Faith played. For thirteen years, Faith’s life has been dominated by her parent’s – and indeed the entire country’s – manic obsession to find the missing Laurel. Her entire existence has taken a back seat to the media’s obsession with her sister, even as her parent’s divorced and her family became more shattered and broken. So, when Laurel shows up at nineteen, clutching her teddy bear, the media storm is unbelievable – might the Logan family finally have the missing piece of their lives back? It certainly seems that way, but Faith soon starts to realise that thirteen long years means that the piece might not fit like it used to…
OH MY OH MY OH MY. So yeah, this book is pretty astounding. I often start my reviews by discussing the characters, and The Lost and The Found is a treasure trove of character study and human analysis. Faith, the story’s narrator, is brilliantly realised and wonderfully emotionally complex. Her thoughts are constantly in turmoil, and she’s a fountain of guilt and staggeringly diverse feelings, as she flits between gratitude at having Laurel back, and jealousy at the amount of focus and attention she’s getting. When Laurel’s behaviour is strange or unsettling, Faith is torn between suspicion and guilt over suspecting her traumatised sister, and that creates an unsettling, lilting sense of unease and moral ambiguity. As well as Faith, the book is supported by some wonderful characters, particularly Laurel, who’s dark, meek and haunted behaviour makes her an unpredictable and unsettling presence that settles throughout the book, even when she isn’t there. Michel also deserves a special mention for being such a warm, open and accepting character, frequently reminding Faith that her feelings and emotions are valid, even if they feel monsterous.
The whole book twists and hums with a dark atmosphere that lends the story an unreal and deeply disturbing feel to every page. There’s menace lurking in Laurel’s past, as well as in her present, and her fractured mental state mean that every event in the story is underpinned with dangerous uncertainty. The first half of the book is a slow, burning suspense filled mystery, that teases out little bits of the characters and their past, before dropping in the last third like a rollercoaster of unstoppable, nail-biting tension and horror, which is such absolutely captivating reading that I could hardly blink. The book does speak about hope, though, and the importance and power that hope can have on people… Despite the utterly BLEAK nature to it all.
Thanks for Reading,
P.S. – The Lost and The Found isn’t published until July, but you can Pre-Order It HERE.
P.P.S. – You can also follow Cat Clarke on Twitter HERE.