After striking out on her own as a teen mom, Madi Price is forced to return to her hometown of Brandywine, Virginia, with her seventeen-year-old daughter. With nothing to her name, she scrapes together a living as a palm reader at the local farmers market.
It’s there that she connects with old high school flame Henry McCabe, now a reclusive local fisherman whose infant son, Skyler, went missing five years ago. Everyone in town is sure Skyler is dead, but when Madi reads Henry’s palm, she’s haunted by strange and disturbing visions that suggest otherwise. As she follows the thread of these visions, Madi discovers a terrifying nightmare waiting at the center of the labyrinth—and it’s coming for everyone she holds dear.
Firstly, many thanks to Titan Books for my arc of this book!
Also a very happy UK Pub day to Clay and his wonderful novel!
‘What Kind of Mother’ begins in mystery and intrigue, peaks in chaos and bedlam, and ends in an all-encompassing sorrow that neatly ties the knot on this gift-wrapped (sea) monster of a story – it is quite the ride.
The title of the book is a rhetorical question afraid to complete itself; it is for the story to fill in the blanks: Just what would a mother sacrifice for their child? How far does a mother’s love go? How could a mother do that to their child? Parenthood is hooked under the microscope in this book and scrutinised wholly before being stripped down to its core components, its darkest recesses left for all to see.
The absence to the question of ‘what kind of mother’ is filled by Skyler, Henry McCabe’s missing infant. Skyler is a lot of things but before anything else he is the swell of parental grief and despair that permeates throughout the pages. The story of Skyler is terrifying in its mundanity; physically losing a child can happen to any parent at any time, and even amongst the supernatural elements of the novel, the feelings attached to Skyler’s absence are grounded in absolute reality. Madi and Henry are two sides of the same coin in this regard. Madi mourns the loss of her daughter who left to go and live with her father, but through regret and reflection on her own perceived failures as a mother. And so we circle back to the original unfinished question: what kind of mother… is Madi? The book slowly unpeels the answer to this question for all to see.
‘What Kind of Mother’ is a mosaic of leading questions and unfinished answers that
explodes into chaos as the pieces come together. It is a book that very much leads itself to being read emotively rather than with an analytical eye. As a reader I was very much just along for the ride, trying (and failing) to catch every curveball that was thrown at me. I think to stop and to try and make sense of everything happening would be to lose the magical essence of the story. The characters shine in the waves of emotion that they are acting from and we as readers are observers to the madness. We can make sense of the wreckage later.
In a book that delves so intensely into themes of parental responsibility, grief, and
adulthood in general, it is love that shines the brightest. No matter how misguided, love instructs most of the actions taken throughout the story, whether that love be spousal, paternal or maternal. The story is anchored in love no matter the darkness that surrounds it and the poem at the very end of the story is the flicker of hope needed to remind us of exactly that. It is perfect.
Fanfiaddict loves ‘What Kind of Mother’. Check out other reviews from the team below!