I would really like to start this review with a ‘the moral of this story is; never….., but then I would give the ending away in one fell swoop.
Pen is an interesting and diverse character. The reader experiences her as the victim, as the manipulative young woman with dangerous secrets, and also as the normal girl trying to fit in.
It then becomes hard to decide whether Pen is the character we shouldn’t trust or just someone who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Pen lives under a cloud of suspicion in her own town. To this day she denies any involvement in a local killing that put her best friend behind bars. On top of all that she has to deal with the string of useless and nasty boyfriends her needy mother brings into their home on a regular basis.
I really enjoyed the way Clifford played with the question of guilt, and whether or not Pen is simply a killer.Will her need for her own sense of justice and retribution always lead to the inevitable? Does self preservation always equal violence, death or revenge in her mind?
Even towards the end I still felt myself feeling empathy towards her, feeling anger on her behalf at the betrayal. Is she a so-called criminal due to the circumstances she finds herself in? Is she just one of those people who seem to live under a dark cloud of bad luck?
It is a compelling thought-provoking read by an author who knows how to create memorable characters. Clifford also knows how play with the questions of innocence and guilt in a way that may leave the reader with a conundrum