Still Mine is Amy Stuart’s first novel. An outstanding one at that.
I’ll start with the publisher’s blurb then move on to my review.
The Girl on the Train meets The Silent Wife in this taut psychological thriller.
“WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU VANISH FROM YOUR LIFE AND LEAVE NO STORY BEHIND?
SOMEONE WILL MAKE ONE UP FOR YOU.
Clare is on the run.
From her past, from her husband, and from her own secrets. When she turns up alone in the remote mining town of Blackmore asking about Shayna Fowles, the local girl who disappeared, everyone wants to know who Clare really is and what she’s hiding. As it turns out, she’s hiding a lot, including what ties her to Shayna in the first place. But everyone in this place is hiding something—from Jared, Shayna’s secretive ex-husband, to Charlie, the charming small-town drug pusher, to Derek, Shayna’s overly involved family doctor, to Louise and Wilfred, her distraught parents.
Did Shayna flee? Was she killed? Is it possible she’s still alive?
As Clare uncovers the mysteries around Shayna’s disappearance, she must confront her own demons, moving us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of lies and making us question what it is she’s really running from. Twisting and electrifying, this is a get-under-your-skin thriller that will make you question what it means to lose yourself and find yourself in the most unlikely places.”
Amy Stuart brings us to Blackmore, a small gritty town filled with pain. Clare lands there with her own significant amount of baggage. She’s being tasked to find Shayna; a girl that has recently gone missing. Clare is also a run-away. I loved the fact that we have someone who is running away from their own life and looking for someone who possibly ran away from theirs.
But let’s look at the town of Blackmore a little more. Amy Stuart created the perfect air of despair and hopelessness within Blackmore, where the characters are broken and the outlook is dismal. These are not the types of characters you will feel all warm and fuzzy about. They are damaged, their town is on the verge of abandon. Basically, not your destination for a Disney type vacation. As for Clare, she’s abrasive and reckless to say the least.
But that readers, is why I loved Clare and the people of Blackmore. Clare may not go about things in a normal fashion but she gives it her best shot with the means at her disposal. You can tell she’s a fighter.
Having left an abusive relationship myself, (not in the same way as Clare) and coming from a town that echoes Blackmore a smidge… I connected with many aspects of the Book. I got a little “Sleeping with the Enemy” vibe while I read Still Mine. On the other hand, I didn’t find it at all similar to “Girl on a Train”. Having read both, I preferred Still Mine. If you are looking for a wild ride of suspense and intrigue, this may not be a read for you.
For me, the soupçon of intrigue involved in finding the missing girl wasn’t what hooked me as I continued reading. It was definitely the ugliness, the brokenness that gave Still Mine all its splendour.
I highly recommend listening to an interview Amy Stuart gave on CBC Radio.
Oh, and on a little side note: after contacting the author, Amy told me that a sequel to Still Mine is in the works. I was delighted to know this because reading the last pages of her novel sent a chill down my spine.
One last outtake… this happened as I was staging the photo for the blog post. With all my clumsiness I managed to drop the novel over a fence. I thought I’d lost it but managed to perform some acrobatics and now, it is Still Mine 😉
Still Mine by Amy Stuart
Published by Simon and Schuster