Friday, July 24, 2020

The Lost Girls of Devon by Barbara O'Neal

Happy Friday! Today I'm a stop on the TLC blog tour for Barbara O'Neal's latest, The Lost Girls of Devon.

Zoe's best friend Diana is missing. It's been two weeks since anyone has heard from her. Zoe almost didn't notice what with Diana living in England and Zoe living in Santa Fe. Plus, Zoe had been angry with Diana for befriending Poppy, the mother who'd abandoned Zoe so many years ago. She'd also been preoccupied with her daughter, Isabel, who's been going through something she won't reveal to either of her parents. 

But Zoe's grandmother, a mystery author who sees sinister deeds in everything around her (more and more now that she's getting older), is worried and she's asked Zoe to come home to help. It's good because it offers Isabel a chance to get away from whatever is bothering her. But it also means Zoe will have to face Poppy who's recently been more involved in her own mother's life. 

All four women are thrown together in a mystery that grows more worrisome with every passing day. But Diana's disappearance is just the start. And if they're to get through what's happening, Lillian, Poppy, Zoe, and Isabel will have to face their demons and learn to move on. 

Barbara O'Neal's latest is an exploration in family relationships—specifically the relationship between mothers and daughters. 

Zoe is scarred. Her mother abandoned her when she was seven, leaving her to live with her grandmother for years to come. But now Poppy has returned and everyone seems to have forgiven her except Zoe. Zoe holds onto her anger so much so that Isabel has never even met her grandmother. 

And Zoe's anger stretches further than just Poppy. She's barely spoken to Diana in the weeks leading up to her disappearance because Diana herself has forgiven Poppy. Which is why Zoe doesn't really notice when Diana's texts stop altogether. 

Which is not to say that Zoe doesn't have other things going on in her life. And Diana had recently met someone...But living in another country completely means that Zoe isn't privy to everything going on back in Devon anyway. And her daughter has been suffering silently, unwilling to share her secrets. 

Isabel holds her hurt close and even the reader only learns exactly what's going on in small clues for much of the early part of the book. Something happened. Something involving social media. Isabel deleted her accounts and even enrolled in virtual school, leaving her old school and all of her friends behind. Not only does she refuse to tell her mother what's going one, even her father is clueless. And Isabel definitely doesn't want to share it with her therapist. 

Meanwhile, Poppy has finally returned to Devon and is trying to make up for her past disappearance. She too is holding something close, but she recognizes the hurt she created when she left her daughter all those years ago and now she's ready to make amends, if Zoe and Lillian will let her. 

Lillian herself has almost no choice. In her late eighties and determined to stay in the manor house she's called home for so long, even she admits she can't keep up with the place. Both Diana and Poppy have been helping out, which is why Lillian is certain something terrible has befallen Diana. But as a woman who made a career creating mysteries, it seems no one quite believes her—at first. And with her memory failing her, Lillian isn't sure what she might already know. 

This is the kind of story that really gets me. It's an emotional read and ultimately a character-driven one, but it's woven around a mystery: that of Diana's disappearance. The Devon setting is truly magical and mysterious as well, adding so much depth and atmosphere to the story!

The Lost Girls of Devon is a rich and dramatic read, one that upended all of my plans once I started reading! I had to know what was going on in Devon, where Diana had disappeared to, and how this family was going to make it through it all!

To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here

For more on Barbara O'Neal and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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