Her Friend from the North (by Sally Quilford)

I’ve read and enjoyed quite a few of Sally Quilford’s novellas on my Kindle, and regularly download more when she offers a free promotion. This particular one was free on February 14th a couple of years ago, but I have a lot of unread books on my Kindle, and had not got around to reading it.

However, on a recent coach journey, I wanted something light and decided that ‘Her friend from the North’ would be suitable. I had forgotten hat this isn’t a novella, but a short story of around 5000 words. The genre is that of a romantic thriller, and the plot moves at quite a pace.

Sally Quilford is very skilled at creating believable characters that I can empathise with, and I had no difficulty relating to the narrator of this story, a young woman called Valentine. She’s unemployed and trying to take shelter from the rain after a depressing job interview when she’s surprised by a sudden kiss from a stranger. It’s a great opening that drew me right in.

Valentine finds a piece of paper in her pocket when she returns home and decides to follow up a clue to something that is potentially very dangerous. The rest of the story then takes place in Venice, where everything happens so rapidly that I felt a bit confused and a little breathless at times…

Thrillers aren’t my preferred genre of story, although this one is thankfully free of gore and bad language, and is short enough that there’s very little suspense. Nonetheless, I felt that it suffered from its brevity; we learn a few facts about Valentine’s parents and her upsetting past, but I’d have liked to have known more. I didn’t feel that her motivation for following up the clue was really explored, either, and never really felt myself to be part of the story.

I think my biggest problem, though, was that I found the main male character a bit flat. He was rather caricatured, a ‘northerner’ by the way he spoke, but I wasn’t sure what the point of his accent was. I was also unconvinced by a rather sudden intimate scene that seemed unnecessary to the plot.

Nevertheless, as with all this author’s books the story is well-written and the ending satisfactory. It was good to read on a coach as I finished it in less than ten minutes, despite having to page backwards a couple of times to remind myself what was going on - but then I’m not very good with this kind of plot. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it, although the Kindle edition cost is very low, but I would like it to have been clearer at the front of the book that this is a short story rather than a novel.

Only, as far as I know, available in Kindle form, certainly worth reading if you like this genre and have KindleUnlimited to download it at no cost.

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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