Fragile by Sarah Hilary @panmacmillan @netgalley #20booksofsummer21

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Book blurb

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

My thoughts

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!”

Marmion by Sir Walter Scott

Nell lived in a home where she quickly learnt to be useful to Meagan Flack, the woman who ran it. She meets Joe at the home and they become attached. All was going well.

Ten years after Nell arrived at Meagan Flack’s house, now eighteen, she is in London with Joe. They’re living on the streets.

On a night out Joe picks up a women, he doesn’t return to Nell. Concerned Nell goes looking for Joe only to find a rather unusual narrow house – Starling Villas – tucked away unseen. By chance and with some luck Nell hears of a vacancy at the house. She brazenly weasels her way in.

Nell has cultivated, through necessity, a way of surviving that no youngster should need to especially to the degree, with the acceptance and understanding that she has. She has learnt how to survive but that doesn’t mean she isn’t vulnerable, she is.

Joe good looking, charming and willing to do anything for an easy life. It’s how he survived at Megan’s. It’s what keeps him off the streets for a night. It’s what drives him into a decision that will put Nell into danger.

Nell and Joe should have had better care, been given opportunities but life one way or another dealt them a difficult hand and in an overloaded system if something looks good there’s no point in delving too deeply to make sure it actually is what it appears to be.

Still when people like Meagan Flack – manipulative, selfish, greedy – get into the care system, in positions of power and building a good reputation, albeit false, how does the system realise and, then, deal with these people? Sometimes it can’t, sometimes it doesn’t until it too late.

Meagan Flack – manipulating, greedy, selfish, lazy and controlling. Nell learnt from the best but she couldn’t control everything. She left, taking Joe with her. Now Meagan Flack hates her, blames her for what happened and wants revenge.

What drove Nell and Joe to get away from Meagan Flacks home? Why does Meagan want revenge? Does Nell find out where Joe went? What will happen to Nell in Starting Villas?

This is an engrossing read. It’s a story that will have you loving Nell one moment, hating her the next. This is a tragic story on many levels. It is a book that demonstrates just how good Sarah Hilary’s writing and storytelling is. Oh, yes, those of us who have read any of Sarah Hilary’s Marnie books know she’s good, knows she can write and now, with Fragile, it’s just gone to a whole new level.

I have previously reviewed Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary.

Thanks: To PanMacmillan via NetGalley for an eCopy of Fragile by Sarah Hilary in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and no payment has been received.

Well that’s my second read done! You can find out all you need to know about this challenge at Cathy’s 746Books and lot’s of other great book stuff. My list for this year’s challenge is on my blog if you’d like to check it out.


Published: Macmillan an imprint of PanMacMillan (10 Jun. 2021) ISBN 9781529029444

Buy: Hive | AmazonSmileUK | Waterstones | Your local bookshop

Photo by Matthew Andrews


Sarah’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. 

Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. She is also part of the team responsible for the St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend in Oxford.

As well as writing, Sarah teaches crime fiction, and mentors its rising stars. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.

Follow on: Twitter | Facebooks


D.I. Marnie Rome series

Someone Else’s Skin | No Other Darkness | Tastes Like Fear | Quieter Than Killing | Come and Find Me | Never Be Broken |



One Comment on “Fragile by Sarah Hilary @panmacmillan @netgalley #20booksofsummer21

  1. Pingback: #20booksofsummer21 – my list. – Love Books, Read Books


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