#BookReview: Fragile by Sarah Hilary @sarah_hilary

Hi everyone. Today, I have a book review for you from author Sarah Hilary. I discovered this book via NetGalley and received a free ARC of this book. I enjoyed this read tremendously. And this is definitely an author to check out.

About the Book:

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.

My Review:

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for a free Advanced Review Copy of this book.

I enjoyed this tale of neglect, intrigue, lying, deceit, and a desperate fight for survival.

Nell and Joe grow up together in a foster home, run by Meagan–more interested in money than actually looking after the kids placed under her care. Nell becomes the mother figure for them all, and even at just eight-years-old, runs the house in all aspects. All while dodging Meagan’s fists and cruel taunts.

Then, one summer, tragedy strikes, and everything changes. Eventually, Nell and Joe run away. They end up homeless, hungry, and cold on the streets of London, and do anything they must to stay alive.

After a few twists and turns, Nell finds herself working for an eccentric-seeming guy in Starlling Villas … itself a strange and forebidding buidling in the midst of the city. For various reasons, Nell feels trapped and unable to leave, even when events take an alarming turn.

I found the characterisation and world building well done and the plot intriguing. The narrative flowed nicely.

A few lines stood out in particular for me:

Back at the beginning, Meagan thought Nell was like the sea. Wild and choppy but you could learn its tide, chart its patterns. That summer, she’d started to see the girl was more like their precious pool. Deep and treacherous, full of caves where currents flowed to an ancient rhythm, stealing through the spaces in the stone, taking fish and rocks and anything lost, sucking it into a place no one could ever follow or find.


‘Yes,’ Carolyn said, ‘lovely,’ as if she were mispronouncing ghastly.


If Robin Wilder imagined his wife’s stones only skipped the surface of my skin, he had no idea how deep I ran, what fears and furies I felt.

This psychological thriller gripped me from beginning to end. I would have preferred a more concrete ending, but it was good nonetheless. Fragile gets a solid 4 stars from me.


NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

14 Comments on “#BookReview: Fragile by Sarah Hilary @sarah_hilary

  1. The lovely/ghastly quote kind of had me chuckling. This one sounds like a good story. You have me wondering about the ending. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. A really interesting review, Harmony. I will put this on my TBR for after the festive season.