The Others By Sarah Blau – A Review

Publisher: Pushkin Press

Publication Date: 13th April 2021

This book, on paper (oh the irony) shouldn’t be one I would like. In fact I recently took to Twitter to list some of the topics/tropes in books that I instantly take against, one of them being ‘something happens to a group of friends in the past which now comes back to haunt them in the future’. This books very much has that element. BUT it also looks at motherhood and I am endlessly fascinated by this.

Also, THAT COVER. Creepy doll head? YES PLEASE.

I’m so glad that I cast aside my assumptions and gave this book a whirl because it was a triumph that I gobbled up in a couple of hours after it dropped through my letterbox one dull Friday afternoon.

The Others is translated from the Hebrew by Daniella Zamir and is set in Tel Aviv where a serial killer has struck. The book opens with the body of Dina Kaminer having just been discovered, naked, hog tied to a chair, a baby doll glued to her hands and the word MOTHER carved into her forehead.

The narrative is told from the perspective of Sheila, a one time friend of Dina from university days. Sheila is questioned by police officer Micha in regards to Dina’s murder. Dina is somewhat of a public figure, given that she has written an article based on the women in the bible who did not have children, seemingly by choice and Dina herself has gone on record to say she herself will never have children, much to the chagrin of a lot of people.

In fact, it’s not just Dina who publicly declares her desire to never have children, another woman in their university friendship group, Ronat, now an actress, has given interviews declaring the exact same thing.

It later transpires that the group was originally a foursome, Sheila, Dina, Ronat and Naama. All tentatively brought together during their class Women In The Bible. The girls are fascinated by the concept that not all women are put on the earth to reproduce and they can identify with the likes of Lilith, Miriam the prophetess, Michal (King David’s wife) and the Witch Of Endor.

There is a party where the women dress up and eminate the ‘baron’ women from the bible and it is during this party that something happens to fracture their friendships.

In the present day, the serial killer seems to know things from the party. Symbols and clues are strewn around the bodies which indicate that the killer knows the groups secrets. The investigation rumbles on with Micha trying to glean from Sheila any information he can whilst she is initially a little tight lipped, she eventually gets closer to Micha by degrees and starts to divulge more and more information about her dark past.

What I absolutely loved about this book was Sheila’s character. She’s a very bold and no nonsense protagonist with a wicked almost gallows sense of humour which gave me slight Sweet Pea by C J Skuse vibes. She is caustic and guarded, and a little abrasive and that made me love her all the more.

The ‘something happened in the past’ trope didn’t put me off in any way with this book because what actually did happen was quite dark and it’s sinister tendrils crept forward to infiltrate the future in a ‘you can run but you can’t hide’ way.

I also found myself fascinated by the women in the bible and had to go and Google their stories. I love books that make you go and Google and research for yourself.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. It kept me hooked and had me guessing and who doesn’t love that?

Thank you to the publisher for my review copy.

See you all soon.

Amanda – Bookish Chat xx

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