The Unravelling
PublisherHonno Welsh Women's Press
Date Published21 July 2016
Price£ 8.99

The Unravelling

by Thorne Moore

Dysfunctional Karen Rothwell experiences flashbacks from her childhood that lead her on a psychological journey to remember and understand that lost childhood.


From an autumnal apple dropping and rolling across the ground, jigsaw pieces of buried memories of her childhood slowly come together in Karen Rothwell’s brain, but they only serve to confuse her totally.

The adult Karen is a mess – on medication, under a psychologist, monitored by a health worker for depression and an eating disorder and occasionally living in a fantasy world but with a now insatiable desire to understand those strange recollections from her childhood. She and the reader are unsure where they will lead her. 

She begins by sketching faces in an attempt to understand something unsettling deep in her past. The problem is that she is unsure of the meaning of the faces and of the underlying questions hiding deep in her buried memories. The reminiscences lead her on a voyage of discovery.

The book is a true page-turner as you are drawn into the confused recesses of Karen’s mind and undertake the journey with her as she decides to confront her past. For her own sanity, she needs to bring meaning to her life and its memories.

She needs to tackle the difficult question of what actually happened to her as a ten-year-old in 1996, and search for the meaning within those confused memories. Her friendships at school in 1996 and the people who moulded her life are slowly exposed layer by layer. The reader shares the young Karen’s joy as she joins the circle of friends of the golden girl Serena, but also shares her pain and confusion as the memories begin to reveal the cruelty of children in that group. Little by little, the playground politics of long ago and a dark long forgotten and suppressed incident begin to raise their ugly heads.

Although the story unfolds one painful layer at a time in 2015, the reader is kept second-guessing continuously as snippets from 1996 rise to the surface. The characters are depicted brilliantly and are truly believable. Karen, despite her obvious problems becomes very likeable and the reader shares her pain and anxieties. The conclusion succinctly draws the threads together in an ominous ending to an excellent tale.

Reviewed 29 October 2016 by Chris Smart