‘She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.‘
[ About the Book ]
Sometimes Marisa gets the fanciful notion that Kate has visited the house before. She makes herself at home without any self-consciousness. She puts her toothbrush right there in the master bathroom, on the shelf next to theirs.
In Jake, Marisa has found everything she’s ever wanted. Then their new lodger Kate arrives.
Something about Kate isn’t right. Is it the way she looks at Marisa’s boyfriend? Sits too close on the sofa? Constantly asks about the baby they are trying for? Or is it all just in Marisa’s head?
After all, that’s what her Jake keeps telling her. And she trusts him – doesn’t she?
But Marisa knows something is wrong. That the woman sleeping in their house will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Marisa just doesn’t know why.
How far will she go to find the answer – and how much is she willing to lose?
[ My Review ]
Magpie by Elizabeth Day was published September 2nd with 4th Estate and is described as ‘the most gripping psychological thriller of the year’ and is a novel that really is quite difficult to review due to the complexity and twists in the plot.
Marissa has had a challenging life, with Jake now the bright light on her horizon. Her own mother abandoned the family home when Marissa was very young, leaving her always wondering about the what-ifs in life. Marissa is intent on someday being a kind and loving mother and, with Jake by her side, Marissa finally feels that sense of happiness that has eluded her for many years. When Marissa views her prospective new home in the opening chapters, there is an immediate sense of doom as a lone magpie gets in through an open door leaving the reader in a heightened state of suspense. Is it a prelude to something?
Marissa is a creative type and sets up her home office in the new home but financial difficulties strike and a lodger seems like a quick solution. Kate, the new lodger, is trendy, someone very comfortable in her own skin, exhibiting a self-confidence that Marissa is envious of. Kate soon settles in but Marissa feels that Kate is overly familiar with her new home and seems to invade their home space a little too regularly. Marissa starts to feel a small bit uncomfortable around Kate and becomes slightly paranoid. Jake sees it very differently and tries to convince Marissa that it is just her imagination.
Magpie has one of the most ingenious twists that I was not expecting. The change in tempo grabbed me as I tried to assimilate what had just happened and what would happen. Throughout Magpie, there are a collection of very damaged and toxic personalities clambering to be heard, all with the presumption of righteousness on their side, and all wonderfully depicted by Elizabeth Day.
There are many different themes throughout Magpie, including mental health and fertility, all handled with a great sensitivity. Elizabeth Day has publicly spoken of her own personal experiences of fertility and, in a recent piece in the Irish Examiner, her struggle to have a baby, where she mentions her recent pain of a miscarriage early in the pandemic.
“I hadn’t ever seen my experience of fertility reflected in fiction the way that I would’ve liked to read it. Which is truthful, really, and I don’t think it would have been the same book had I not been through what I’ve been through.”
Using her own in-depth knowledge, Elizabeth Day’s descriptions of consultant visits, fertility treatments and the impact that these procedures can have on personal relationships, provide a very authentic and raw reading experience for all.
Magpie is a deliciously sinister read combining all the ingredients for a stylish and up-to-the-minute suspenseful tale. I was left a little shaken at the final few pages, reading with a slight nervous energy, thinking that anything could happen right to the end, which, in hindsight, is a really intelligent writing technique.
Magpie is a disconcerting and compelling psychological thriller, one that shakes up the reader, building suspense and tension with aplomb. Perfect attention-grabbing read and recommended by me!
[ Bio ]
Elizabeth Day is the author of four previous novels, including the Betty Trask Award-winning Scissors, Paper, Stone and The Party, a Richard & Judy Book Club pick.
She is an award-winning journalist and presents Radio 4’s Open Book and the Sky Arts Book Club.
She is also the creator and host of the iTunes chart-topping podcast, How to Fail, which spawned two non-fiction books, including a Sunday Times bestselling memoir.
Twitter ~ @elizabday