Mary Rose Moreland and Simon Blake are the perfect couple: successful young professionals in Philadelphia, attractive, madly in love, and ready to start a life together. When they travel to England for Simon to ask her parents’ permission to marry Mary Rose, he learns an unsettling secret: Mary Rose disappeared when she was a little girl while the family was vacationing on a remote Scottish island. She reappeared mysteriously thirty-three days later in the exact same spot without a scratch on her and no memory of what had happened.
After Simon hears about this disturbing episode in Mary Rose’s childhood, he becomes obsessed with finding out what happened. He proceeds to launch his own investigation and arranges during their honeymoon for them to visit the island where she disappeared. But as Mary Rose’s behavior gets stranger after their engagement, the need for Simon to unlock the truth about her past grows even more urgent. What he uncovers is beyond his most terrifying fears.
Mary Rose is author Geoffrey Girard’s chilling and modern take on a classic ghost story originally written by J. M. Barrie. And for years, master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock attempted to adapt Mary Rose into a film but was never successful. With this novel, Girard taps into the nightmarish fears that inspired both Barrie and Hitchcock, while also bringing the story to the present day with his own unique voice.
*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Adaptive Books. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel is out today, exclusively at Barnes & Noble.*
Mary Rose isn’t the kind of book I typically read. It was weird and strange and mysterious, and I was so intrigued I just had to keep reading until the end. Mary Rose is a mystery wrapped up in the shell of woman. She’s beautiful, but there’s clearly something off about her. Her boyfriend, Simon, however, doesn’t mind that at all. In fact, it seems to make him more infatuated with her.
When Simon and Mary Rose take a trip to her childhood home in England, Simon learns that Mary Rose disappeared for 33 days when she was child, on an island in Scotland. There was no explanation for her disappearance or how she suddenly reappeared, seemingly fine. For some reason, Mary’s parents were content with not knowing, and though they took her to psychologists over the years, eventually they just resigned themselves to the fact that they’d never really know.
Still, Mary Rose clearly had issues. Even though she couldn’t remember what happened to her on that island, she had nightmares and drew very strange drawings all the time. What I loved about this novel is that this story toes the line of realism and fantasy. I wasn’t sure if Mary Rose was taken to some magical land for the 33 days or if a regular human person had taken her. I also wasn’t sure if the island was this really scary place or if it just became that because of all the stories people told about it.
As I kept reading, just like Simon, I needed to know what happened to Mary Rose. Why was she the way she was? Was she even a real person or something else entirely? And was there a reason why Simon, and seemingly all the men around her, were attracted to Mary Rose, or was that just a coincidence? All these questions are what made the book fun for me, because I was intrigued by the mystery and I felt thoroughly satisfied by the answers given at the end.
My biggest frustration with the novel was definitely the characters. While I could understand why Simon was interested in learning what happened to Mary Rose, I honestly couldn’t understand why he stuck by her side for so long or didn’t get her help. Maybe love is just blind, but the things Mary did would make me run for the hills or at least offer up an ultimatum, that she either needed to see a doctor or the relationship was over.
I also just couldn’t sympathize with Mary Rose, but I’m not sure I was supposed to. The novel is told in close third person, switching between Simon and Mary. Mary was definitely going through a hard time, but the way she handled a lot of things bothered me. Really, I just wanted this woman to see a therapist throughout the entirety of the novel and it bothered me that the only explanation for why she didn’t was because she went before and that didn’t work out for strange reasons. Still, I understand this was also a plot device so I can forgive the author for this, but it did bother me.
Overall, I recommend this novel if you’re into mysteries and a fan of Alfred Hitchcock. There’s a short essay in the back that explains the history of Mary Rose, which I found very interesting since I took an Alfred Hitchcock class in college, and I could definitely see why this story would’ve interested him. It was also interesting to see how this story started as a play and then the screenplay written for Hitchcock to now this book. I liked the changes Geoffrey Girard made and I’m not sure I would’ve enjoyed this novel if it was told in the original way.
Therefore, read the book if you like mysteries and questions about the supernatural. If you’re not into that kind of thing, I’d say skip this one. It’s definitely not for everyone, but it is enjoyable.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. I probably won’t read it again, but it’s perfect for Halloween.
“Better to know the blow that was coming at you than let it catch you unawares.”