Book Review

Sumaiyya’s Book for Thought: Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

A psychological thriller that keeps you guessing until the very end.

One of the reading highlights of 2016 has been my proper discovery of crime and psychological thrillers. Since I finished reading Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry this past weekend I thought, now would be a great time to review it! (

Under the harrow means to be in a lot of distress or anxiety.

General Premise: Nora visits her sister Rachel’s house in Marlow for a routine weekend hangout, but instead of a warm welcome she finds her sister brutally murdered. Nora’s distrust in the police leads her to investigate the murder herself in a state of devastation and depression.

“What’s your favorite thing about Cornwall? I asked her. But it wasn’t what I meant. I meant, what’s your favorite thing about being alive?”

  • The Writing Style
    When it comes to thrillers, the writing style is really important. It’s inevitable for the upset narrator to eventually get accused for the murder. Thankfully, Flynn Berry does not abuse the unreliable and nervous narrative form and maintains it realistically. It takes a few pages for some readers to get used to the style, but I personally enjoyed it from the start.
  • The Dead Character
    Rachel is a dead character in this story, but she’s very much alive. Let me explain. Nora and Rachel are sisters who have always been close due to the unstable family background. Due to certain dark reasons, Nora digs into her past to her memories of Rachel. Nora’s connection to Rachel, overall, fleshes out Rachel’s character and brings the victim to life.
  • Atmosphere
    The book has really bleak and dark inclinations, and this makes it really atmospheric.
  • Exploration of trauma.
    Berry does an amazing exploration of the reaction a person has to trauma and the various ways in which people explore it.
  • Whodunnit
    There are indications of who committed the murder but I could not figure out until the last couple of pages – and that is something that rarely happens. Out of the many suspects some are cleared, so the book constantly challenges the reader’s predictions.

One of the remarkable aspects of Under the Harrow is the sisterly love that is portrayed. We get to see things from Nora’s perspective and she eventually realizes that despite their strong bond there were things she didn’t know about Rachel. Though Nora is our narrator, it’s really Rachel who we come to know properly. We know the dead better than the living.

Book review time!! UNDER THE HARROW by Flynn Berry Quick review: PICK this book!! . I had the absolute pleasure of finishing this book in just one day. It's such a fabulous psychological thriller. It's atmospheric and dark, told from the perspective of Nora, the sister of the young woman who gets brutally murdered in her own apartment. ‎When I say I couldn't guess who the murderer was until the VERY END I absolutely mean it. And the clues are there, you just don't think to dig deep enough. I loved the narrator's awkward and slightly disturbed voice. Nora's love for her sister and her distrust in the police system pushes her to investigate the murder herself. Here's top reasons you should read it:  1. It's a really gripping psychological thriller; it explores the reaction to abuse and trauma very well.  2. The writing is amazing, just give it a few pages and you'll be hooked!  3. The book is dark and bleak, something I personally love.  4. The portrayal of sisterly love is very realistic. ‎ One of the things I loved was that Berry didn't abuse the unreliable narrative form. Overall, I'd say this is a pretty good psychological thriller! Definitely a 5 star read for me. Thank you @vikingbooks for sending this my way!

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