I was asked to read this novel in exchange for an honest review by the author, Ellen Allen. The Sham was a dark book with a twisted and addictive plot; I couldn’t help but continue to read its engrossing and deepening storyline. The plot jumps from the present to the past and tells the story of Emily, a girl living in The Sham that seems to find herself stuck in the middle of a mysterious string of murders. With her is Jack, the strange boy with the increasingly complicated past who just happens to turn up on the day of the first disappearance and befriend Emily. Jack is the centre of the Police’s suspicions, yet Emily can barely understand who he is, let alone if he is capable of such a thing as murder.
I found this novel interesting, unusual and yet a little unbearable in places to read. No detail was left out for the queasy and light-hearted. The first chapter in particular was difficult to read and I forced myself to get through it. Without spoiling the book for anyone, the first chapter is built around bullying and there are some very brutal and visual explanations throughout the opening pages. Apart from the goose bump inducing first chapter I also found some of the plot disjointed. Parts of the novel were fast paced whilst other dragged on in places. There were areas I would have liked to have seen expanded upon whilst others reduced.
As for the characters, I liked Emily and Jack; however the rest I found possessed hideous qualities. This was clearly a tactic by the author; the other characters I believe were this way because of circumstances outside of their control, such as environment, financial issues or family issues. In a way this novel touched on some very realistic situations, some people that could very well be real and suffering with similar issues even as simple as the way they dressed.
The overall ending to the plot was shocking; yet again it wasn’t impossible in a real life situation. I think this is what made the novel so disturbing and twisted. Everything that happened to Emily, to Jack, to the characters throughout, has the potential to happen in any small town. The setting was relatable in the sense of a small town that many readers can identify with, and then there is the chapter regarding Shakespeare’s grave and Stratford.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes an adult read, a murder mystery, an ever darkening and deepening plot. I’m glad I read this book, however I think I will be lending myself to some fantasy to distract myself from the graphic images painted in my mind from The Sham. I gave this book a 3 out of 5 stars on goodreads as there were some things I felt could have been improved upon. Although this is my opinion and others have given it the full 5 stars, check it out and see what you think. Ellen Allen has the potential to become a fantastic and recognisable author.