This review is written with thanks to Quercus books for my copy of The Girl Before.
Emma and her boyfriend, Simon have recently been burgled. Jane has recently suffered a stillbirth. In a bid to make a fresh start, they move into One Folgate Street - Emma in the past, and Jane in the present day. One Folgate Street is a house controlled by technology with very strict conditions laid out by the owner, Edward Monkford. As Jane becomes accustomed to the strange rules of her tenancy, she discovers that Emma died whilst living at One Folgate Street. Concerned that history may repeat itself, Jane resolves to find out what happened to Emma.
I was first drawn to The Girl Before in November, when I read and reviewed a sample of the novel via Netgalley. In the opening chapters I read, I was enthralled as Delaney built up the tension, switching between the past and the present and creating a mysterious feel to One Folgate Street, and this continues as the novel develops, particularly as it becomes clear that several of the characters have secrets.
To live in One Folgate Street, not only must the tenants abide by strict terms and conditions, but they must also undergo a rigorous application process and complete regular assessments whilst living there. The reader is given some insight into what questions the tenants are asked, most of which present moral dilemmas. This made me question how I would respond to the application process, and whether I would be able to live there. As such, I was able to lose myself in the world of One Folgate Street, which made the tension in the novel unbearable at times, and I was desperate to find out what happened.
Other reviews I have read have compared elements of The Girl Before to Fifty Shades, and this made me rather apprehensive. Although The Girl Before never quite reaches the same level of debauchery, I did feel that some of the sexual scenes were gratuitous in a way that detracted from the tension and intrigue in the novel.
Overall, I enjoyed The Girl Before, and felt that Delaney raised important themes in an unusual context.
The Girl Before is available from Amazon.