Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day (2021)

Blurb

The exhilarating new novel from the bestselling author of The Party and How to Fail: a thrilling, stylish and psychologically astute story of jealousy, motherhood and power.

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

Marisa may have only known Jake a few months, but she has never felt this certain about anyone. When he asks her to move in with him and they start trying for a baby, she knows she has finally found the steadfast love and support she has been looking for all her life.

But their relationship is tested when they take in a lodger, Kate, who has little regard for personal boundaries and seems to take an uncomfortable interest in Jake – as well as the baby they are hoping to have.

Why is Kate so obsessed with the couple? And, more worryingly, why doesn’t Jake share Marisa’s concern?

In her determination to find the answers, Marisa risks losing everything she holds dear…

Magpie is a tense, twisting, brilliantly written novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Review

I’m making a bit of a habit of devouring books in one sitting this month – I blame it on the fact that I keep picking up absolute bangers! Magpie is no exception – I stayed up till the early hours because I just had to keep reading.

It’s a tough book to review, because it’s so clever and twisty and it’s really best to go in without knowing too much about the plot. So I’ll keep this brief, and focus on what I CAN tell you. The writing is brilliant – sharp and immersive and tinged with a sense of menace throughout. It pulls you along, each storyline, past and present, equally gripping. It’s always tricky to go into flashbacks when the ‘real time’ plot is so absorbing, but Day is such a skilful storyteller that each carefully plotted section feels just as compelling as the last. And as the book progresses, the tension ramps up to almost unbearable levels – I was definitely holding my breath through certain passages.

I really enjoyed the way the book explores the different sides of each of the characters – and not just the main characters, but people like Jake’s mother, Annabelle – my sympathies towards her waxed and waned, and it felt very like getting to know someone in real life, the layers gradually being pulled back. Marisa is a brilliantly complex protagonist, and the exploration of her inner life is so well done. I definitely recommend Magpie to anyone looking for a pacy, intelligent read that takes nothing for granted and delves far deeper than you initially expect. An excellent book.

Magpie by Elizabeth Day is published by HarperCollins and is available to purchase here.

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