Truly Darkly Deeply by Victoria Selman is a challenging book to review. There was a lot I loved about it. Our lead character Sophia drew me in, though she’s not altogether likeable or easy to get to know. Selman sets up the mystery of Sophia’s past well. She’s clever in her introduction to father-figure Matty, along with Sophia and her mother Amelia-Rose. We know there’s something off – in the past and present – but aren’t sure what it is. There seems to be gaping holes in the plot. One minute Sophie is with her dog, then she’s talking to her mother. And we leap about from the past to the present and it’s not always clear (at least immediately) if we’re with young Sophie or 30-something year old Sophie.
But despite (or in spite of) these inconsistencies and some confusion, it’s rivetting and we need to know more.Truly, Darkly, Deeply
by Victoria Selman
Published by Quercus Books
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
12-year-old Sophie and her mother, Amelia-Rose, move to London from Massachusetts where they meet the charismatic Matty Melgren, who quickly becomes an intrinsic part of their lives. But as the relationship between the two adults fractures, a serial killer begins targeting young women with a striking resemblance to Amelia-Rose.
When Matty is eventually sent down for multiple murders, questions remain as to his guilt -- questions which ultimately destroy both women. Nearly twenty years later, Sophie receives a letter from Battlemouth Prison informing her Matty is dying and wants to meet. It looks like Sophie might finally get the answers she craves. But will the truth set her free -- or bury her deeper?
I think it’s easy to guess some of the ‘reveals’ here, though perhaps we’re meant to. I suspect part of Sophie’s telling of the story is a reflection that her adult self recognises the naiveté of 12yr old Sophie. Indeed she comments often (in retrospect of course) on her desperation for a father and family and – in her reflective style of narrating the events of two decades earlier – she understands why she behaved as she did.
I liked the way Selman paced this novel. It’s a bit slow to get started but then things move quickly. We jump from past to present, but in telling us her story Sophie also jumps about in the past which is probably a little more confusing. (Or at least it pulls you from the story while you’re trying to make sense of the timing.)
When we meet her Sophie’s received the letter telling her Matty is dying. She and her mother agree she needs to go to see him, even if she doesn’t want to. There are obvious questions here but it’s difficult to share much without offering spoilers… though I did pick some of the twists only just before they’re made obvious.
In the present and after Matty’s arrest Sophie talks about her guilt and again I think the ‘why’ is obvious but Selman does a good job with the reveal anyway. I didn’t even vaguely guess at the final twist and I’d need to re-read the entire book to reassure myself of its feasibility… but again, it’s Sophie’s story and the way Selman wraps this up makes a lot of sense.
I think this is the type of book you want to talk about after finishing so would be great for a bookclub as it also lends itself to deliberations throughout.
Truly Darkly Deeply by Victoria Selman was published in Australia by Hachette and is now available.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.