by Sarah Hilary

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Relationship Stories Thriller and Suspense Family Drama Horror and supernatural fiction Star Books Literary Fiction Book Club Recommendations

LoveReading Expert Review of Fragile

A wonderfully dark, atmospheric, and beautifully written contemporary thriller about a former foster child and runaway.

Hauntingly beautiful and full of slicing suspense, this contemporary thriller twisted itself into my thoughts and still hasn’t let go. 17 year old runaway and former foster child Nell Ballard finds herself in London on the doorstop of a new opportunity, but a dark secret is keeping her company. Sarah Hilary is well known for her outstanding DI Marnie Rome crime series (one of my favourites) and this is her first standalone novel. The writing is unmistakably her, yet travels in a different direction. She was inspired by Rebecca and The Handmaid’s Tale and her publisher perfectly describes Fragile as a: “psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist”. She tackles subjects such as child exploitation and homelessness, opening a door and allowing apprehension and awareness in. She has the ability to look between, into the forgotten spaces, either in the outside world or within our own minds, and she successfully reveals what most of us are unable at first to see. There was an almost gentle poetic quality to the words before they ganged together to create uncertainty, concern, and tension. At times, as the quiet moments soothed my thoughts, I was lulled into a feeling of calm. The ending, oh that ending, it hit home hard, and I had to read it again, just to allow it to sink in. Fragile is an achingly dark, wonderfully atmospheric novel, and I will more than happily climb a few rooftops to shout about it.

Liz Robinson

Fragile Synopsis

Everything she touches breaks . . .

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 . . .

A dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

What To Read After Fragile

The Nesting
The River Woman

Sarah Hilary Press Reviews

Sarah Hilary has always known how to chill her readers – Fragile dials the chill factor up to eleven -- Val McDermid

Perfectly plotted, beautifully written modern Gothic. Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart, just as the characters insinuate themselves into each others’ lives. I absolutely loved it -- Erin Kelly

Extraordinary . . . an immersive psychological thriller that plunges us into an underworld of emotional and physical exploitation. There are shades of Highsmith . . . Brilliant stuff -- Andrew Taylor

Fragile is a fever dream. A nightmarish slant on the world delivered expertly and with heart. Tension like cold steel. Characters you won't forget. Sarah Hilary is a modern-day Highsmith., Steve Cavanagh

Sarah Hilary’s Fragile is a beautifully written deep dive into the kind of seductive but dangerous darkness that hides away behind closed doors and respectable facades., Rowan Coleman

Fragile is a dark kind of modern fairytale, Cinderella re-imagined by a writer who knows how to turn a phrase until it's sharp enough to cut. With echoes of du Maurier and Highsmith, Fragile is compelling, poetic and, at times, terrifying. Sarah Hilary is brilliant at framing love with hate, compassion with cruelty, and her skill in creating monstrous characters is unsurpassed -- Jane Casey

Sarah Hilary has created a beautifully written modern Gothic masterpiece, so full of intrigue and mysteries layered upon mysteries that the unravelling may well shred your nerves, in the best way possible -- Liz Nugent

Sarah Hilary’s first standalone is everything you’d expect from such a gifted writer. It’s beautifully crafted, smart and unsettling – a dark river of a book, with a chilling undertow -- Mick Herron

Wonderfully twisty and atmospheric. Kept me second guessing right until the end., Sam Baker

Extraordinary . . . affecting, unflinching, so atmospheric, and the pin-sharp characterization is as good at it gets. Sarah has produced a novel that feels contemporary and socially important, yet somehow other-worldly . . . executed beautifully -- Caz Frear

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781529029468
Publication date: 20/01/2022
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781529029444
Publication date: 10/06/2021
Format: Hardback

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About Sarah Hilary

Sarah Hilary’s debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin, won the 2015 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection. The Observer’s Book of the Month (‘superbly disturbing’) and a Richard and Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. No Other Darkness, the second in the series, was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the U.S. Her D.I. Marnie Rome series continues with Tastes Like Fear, Quieter Than Killing, Come and Find Me, and Never Be Broken. Fragile is her first standalone novel. Sarah ...

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