Erin Cartwright, a psychiatrist in her late thirties, is conflicted. Born in small-town Maine, she escaped the clutches of her dysfunctional family and fled to England. Now, back on American soil once again after twenty years, she is posing as an Englishwoman and hiding her true roots and traumatic history from everyone. To keep up her ruse, she tells lie after lie, which in turn causes her even more stress. She works at “The Meadows”, a privately funded psychiatric facility for young women.Now though, she is being tasked with evaluating a man who has been incarcerated in a maximum-security psychiatric facility upstate for almost three decades. He was locked away for the murders of his mother and two sisters. Her input, via her evaluation of his mental state, could be the difference between whether he lingers on in an institution, or, whether he is released to his remaining family.
She learns that this man, Timothy Stern, grew up in the same small Maine town where she grew up. She dare not let this be known in order to protect her own identity, and the case which could make or break her career. She is determined to turn down the case until she meets Stern. Now, walking away from this case is not an option…
“She was no longer just a doctor, but a potential conduit to Tim’s past…”
As I was reading this novel, one phrase kept repeating itself in my head. “Physician heal thyself”. Erin Cartwright, a psychiatrist, was one tormented and traumatized woman who really needed to see a psychiatrist herself in my opinion.
The descriptions within the novel were well wrought, and the story held my interest throughout – yet the writing was less than smooth in places as can be expected from a debut novel.
Erin’s character was deeply damaged by her childhood experiences – in that aspect she had a LOT in common with Timothy Stern. In fact, I’d have to say that the parents in this novel were some of the worst I’ve ever read or heard about. If there are such atrocious parents out there, they should be sterilized.
My favourite character had to be Timothy Stern. He seemed such a pitiable character – especially in the flashback scenes to when he was a teenager.
The plot was compelling, but seemed laborious in parts. The ending was satisfying, though the plot twist didn’t really come as a surprise. In summation, I would recommend this novel with a few reservations. I would definitely like to read more of this author to see how her skills develop.
3.5 stars rounded UP for NetGalley and Amazon and rounded down for Goodreads (where the stars have different values)
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Legend Press via NetGalley.
ISBN: 9781789551167 ASIN: B08BGBRV2B 288 pages
Ann Gosslin was born and raised in New England in the US, and moved overseas after leaving University. Having held several full-time roles in the pharmaceutical industry, with stints as a teacher and translator in Europe, Asia, and Africa, she currently works as a freelancer and lives in Switzerland.
The Shadow Bird is Ann’s debut novel. Her second novel, The Double, will be published by Legend Press in 2021.