Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the countryside. Thinking their troubles are over, they revel in their cozy, secure life of gardening and books, hot chocolate and Brahms by the fire. But on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, an unwelcome guest disturbs their peace and something inside Shelley snaps. What happens next will shatter all their certainties-about their safety, their moral convictions, the limits of what they are willing to accept, and what they're capable of.
Debut novelist Gordon Reece has written a taut tale of gripping suspense, packed with action both comic and terrifying. Shelley is a spellbinding narrator, and her delectable mix of wit, irony, and innocence transforms the major current issue of bullying into an edge- of-your-seat story of fear, violence, family loyalty, and the outer reaches of right and wrong. (From Goodreads.com)
First of all can I start this review by mentioning how tactile and lovely the cover for this book is! The underground part is so velvety and smooth I couldn't stop stroking it as I was reading. There. Got that out the way...now on to the book.
In all honestly I wasn't sure that I was going to like this book when I first started it. It's told from fifteen year old Shelley's perspective but she doesn't read like a fifteen year old, or any that I've ever met. I found her a little patronising towards the reader and I struggled to feel much sympathy for a character who should absolutely be sympathised. Gordon Reece also uses the Mice comparison of Shelley and her Mother a bit too much, I got they were very shy, nervous people. I understood them. I didn't need it rammed down my throat. I found it a bit annoying for the first few chapters.
However things move on quickly and all at once Mice becomes an unputdownable thriller and took turns I was not expecting at all. It takes quite a bit to surprise me, but this book certainly did. There is nothing predictable about it, that's for sure. Gordon Reece cleverly mixes the quaint and twee of it's characters and their home with shocking, violent and cold blooded murder and the comparison between the two creates a stunning tension that had me gripped.
Mice is a tragic story of bullying and what can happen when people are pushed to their limit. It's not comfortable reading, and at times is very violent and gory. The character development of both Shelley and her mother is fantastic, despite the fact they grow more unrelatable and unlikable. This isn't a nice 'it all works out and things end happy ever after' story. However, I thought it was very well done, thought provoking and gripping and would recommend it!
Published by Macmillan Children's books (UK) February 2012
Thanks to the publishers for sending a copy for review.