Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

Posted On 9 November 2012

Filed under Book Reviews
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Just finished reading Blacklands.  This is another recommendation picked up from Stainless Steel Droppings RIP event and I have no regrets about picking it up.  It was a gripping read.

Blacklands is primarily about Steven Lamb.  Steven’s uncle was murdered by a serial killer before Steven was born.  His gran has never got over the loss and spends each day sat at the living room window – she never really thought her son was a victim because his body was never found and the killer, Avery, could not be convicted for those children whose bodies were never found.  Life is a bit grim for Steven and his family.  His mother, struggling to cope alone with two children has moved back into the family home.  She works as a cleaner barely scraping together enough money to makes ends meet.  Steven is hardly the popular boy.  I suppose turning up at school in pants that are too short, smelling of mildew and with fish paste sandwiches and a home haircut don’t do anything to raise popularity.  He’s also invisible to a lot of people  It’s as though people are afraid to be associated – his family have been touched by unhappiness and other people are afraid of the potential to be infected with the same curse.  Yes, they’ve survivors but they’re barely living.

Steven, has very few friends, in fact he has only one and he has a fairly miserable existence.  He’s convinced that if he uncovers the body of his lost uncle everything will be okay and he will be the hero of the day and the love of his family will be restored.  So,he spends most days on the moor digging – trying to uncover anything.  Basically, we have a story of loss and the devastating effects that the loss of a child has on the remaining family members.

On top of this Bauer takes us into the mind of the killer and gives us a bit of an insight into his disturbing thoughts.

This isn’t a horror story.  It isn’t a thriller and it isn’t a detective murder mystery.  We already know who the killer is, he’s in prison.  The crimes that he committed are horrifying but they’re not primarily what the novel is about.  It’s more about the coming to terms.  It’s psychological and it’s about a young boy’s perception of how to right wrongs and his innocent and naive attempts to make the family a unit again.

This is a really gripping read.  The style of writing flows well and pulls you into Steven’s world in a very dramatic way.

What was particularly scary about this read and makes it much more chilling than a regular horror is the fact that this is so real.  It could happen, it’s like our worst nightmare and the reason for that is because it’s tangible.  Coming from the North of England it’s all too easy to remember the Moors murderers and the horrible crimes they committed.

In terms of criticisms – there was one particular part of the story towards the end (concerning a shooting range – and I won’t say more because of spoilers) that I thought could be left out – it was a bit too convenient.

Other than that, I thought this was a really good read and would definitely recommend.


2 Responses to “Blacklands by Belinda Bauer”

  1. TBM

    This one sounds interesting since it isn’t your typical who-done-it but is still suspenseful. I like when people say something is gripping.

    • lynnsbooks

      I found this one really interesting. I was gripped because I was never quite sure what was going to happen to Steven – I had this horrible sense of anticipation!
      Lynn 😀

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