Whistle In The Dark

Whistle in the Dark

How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Penguin Books UK


Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.


I had a very odd relationship with Emma Healey’s debut novel, it didn’t quite work for me, however, I was really intrigued by the synopsis of her latest novel Whistle In The Dark.  I’m really glad that I gave Emma Healey’s writing another chance, because I actually really enjoyed this book. Don’t you love it when a book surprises you?

Whistle In The Dark opens with Jen and Hugh’s daughter being found after being missing for several days. Lana is found pretty much unharmed with just some injuries on her body. The worst isn’t over yet though, Lana refuses to tell anyone what had happened to her in those days. The story then follows Lana and her family as they begin to adapt to life after such a worrying event.

I was immediately gripped at the beginning, wondering what on earth had happened to Lana. I loved that the story was told from Jen’s perspective, but this is a story where I wonder what it would have been like to hear more from Lana.

This story is about the challenges of being a mother. Not only the everyday challenges of motherhood, but the challenges of being a mother to someone who is incredibly troubled. Lana suffers from depression, leaving her mother to be incredibly anxious and exhausted. She constantly worries about Lana’s wellbeing.

I thought Emma Healey perfectly captured Jen’s anxiety over her daughter and her desire to find out exactly what had happened to her. It was very believable. I feel like this book really delved into family life and explored relationships, not just between Jen and Lana but between Jen and Meg (her other daughter) and Jen and her husband, Hugh too. I don’t usually enjoy books like this, but I was gripped and I put that down to Emma Healey’s wonderful writing.

The only reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher, is that I felt like the middle of the story lacked pace to keep me super intrigued. The beginning and the ending are fabulous, but I was left wanting more when reading the middle section.

Would I recommend it?

A truly engaging read about the stresses of family life!


14 thoughts on “Whistle In The Dark

  1. Great review! I like the premise and I am glad to hear that it was a captivating read despite the slow middle sections. I have to agree with you about Lana’s POV even if I haven’t read the book yet. It would have been interesting to hear her side but I am glad that the story still worked out with Jen’s narration.

  2. Sounds disturbing and really gripping. I sometimes have problems with books about mothers whose children are in peril, so I’ll approach this one with caution! I have this author’s previous book on my Kindle (unread) — it sounds like you’d recommend this one over the previous.

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