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A Trio of Sophies by Eileen Merriman

Sophie MacKenzie writes a dairy about the disappearance of her best friend Sophie Abercrombie. There she confides secrets she hasn't even told Twiggy, the third Sophie in their tight-knit threesome. The trio of Sophies, however, is no more.

A Trio of Sophies is an incredibly spellbinding story with the a strikingly different structure. Author Eileen Merriman has a knack for grabbing, and holding on to, reader's attention from the very first sentence of her stories. This latest release keeps that tradition.

However, it is also completely different to any of her previous books, and is unique in its own right too. While it is a dairy that documents the details around Sophie A's disappearance, it's backwards. Merriman begins the story at day 64, working her way down to day 0, before jumping the timeline again. I cannot recall reading another book structured that way, and it is riveting and gripping. That such a simple twist can make such a huge change is incredible. Merriman also manages to keep the action and suspense going - reading about the reaction to an event before finding out the exact details ensures the reader can't put the book down. And that's exactly it. I read this book the first time within a few hours, desperate to discover what happens.

As other reviewers have mentioned in more eloquent words, the marketing of the book does feel a little off. Marketed as a young adult book, there is a deep and unsettling undercurrent to the story. Manipulative, domineering student-teacher relationships weave their way through the story. It's not that the book needs to be censored from younger readers, but more that the adults in their lives need to be aware of some of the themes in the book and to be prepared to be able to support them if needed. A warning for the adults reading the book too, this story might be a hard read for those that have been through the trauma.

Merriman isn't afraid to take risks in her writing. While it may cover some tough topics, A Trio of Sophies is an intriguing story. Full of unsettling revelations, believable characters and a cracking pace, you will not be able to put it down.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Penguin Random House New Zealand, RRP $19.99


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