You Yet Shall Die, Jennifer Barraclough

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Good idea at the heart of this novel from NZ author Jennifer Barraclough. Hilda is a reclusive, single woman, living in a ramshackle cottage on the North Kent marshes with her rescue cats. Her father has recently died, and her brother Dunstan is struggling with that death, the breakdown of his own marriage and financial problems. When a young woman arrives on Hilda's doorstep announcing she is their half-sister, the love child of their now dead father, Dunstan doesn't cope - already on the verge of collapse, he turns to desperate measures. Which leads Hilda to seek the truth behind their father's past and their mother's untimely death.

Both Hilda and Dunstan are damaged people, and it appears right from the outset that their father is probably a lot to blame for that damage. The question marks over his past, and their mother's death are only part of the struggle for these siblings, although Dunstan is obviously designed to be a lot less sympathetic than Hilda - who is sort of plucky classically slightly batty cat lady to start out with, becoming increasingly interesting as she takes to her quest.

The very formal style and slightly stilted delivery caused some engagement issues for this reader, although overall YOU YET SHALL DIE does explore some really interesting ideas - delving into people's pasts, finding out the truth about parents, the fall out from poor parenting into adulthood and the difference that taking ownership of your own destiny can make in somebody's life.


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Year of Publication

A novel about family secrets and discovery of a long-ago crime. Hilda is a reclusive single woman who lives on the North Kent marshes with her rescue cats. One day she has a visit from a young woman called Nicky, who claims to be her half-sister, the "love child" of Hilda's father who has recently died. When Hilda's brother Dunstan hears about Nicky he is enraged. Dunstan is already on the verge of mental and physical collapse following the death of the father he idolized, the loss of his job, the breakdown of his marriage and his financial woes. Seeing Nicky's arrival as a threat to his family's reputation and his own inheritance, he turns to desperate measures. These events compel Hilda to investigate the shocking truth about her father's past and her mother's untimely death.

Review You Yet Shall Die, Jennifer Barraclough
Karen Chisholm
Monday, May 25, 2020

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