This review is written with thanks to Harper Collins and Netgalley for my copy of Last Seen.
Sarah and Isla are best friends. Their sons, Jacob and Marley were born only weeks apart. They both own a beach hut on Longstone Sands. One summer, Jacob and Marley go swimming in the sea, and when they get into trouble, the rescue team are only able to bring Jacob back to shore safely. On the seventh anniversary of Marley's death, Jacob, now seventeen, goes missing. Sarah is desperate to find out what happened to Jacob on the night he disappeared and is sure that someone in the beach huts knows more than they are prepared to admit. What truths will come to the surface?
Last Seen is set in the fictional seaside resort of Longstone Sands, and the first thing to stand out to me as I started reading were Clarke's poetic descriptions of the setting. Her writing is beautiful, and her ability to set the scene so well meant that I was able to immerse myself in the seaside environment and imagine myself being there.
The narration of Last Seen is shared between Sarah and Isla. It is clear that Clarke has used this technique to allow the reader to uncover the characters' secrets as the novel develops, often ahead of the other characters. This helped to build the tension and kept me intrigued as it became obvious that some of the characters were hiding something. Clarke frequently refers to these secrets and lies throughout the novel; however, at times, I felt that the technique of hinting at what had happened left Clarke with too many ends to tie up, which caused the main body of the plot to lack clarity, and made the ending feel a little far fetched. The narrative style also gives the reader insight into the characters of Sarah and Isla, and whilst in the beginning, this allowed me to sympathise with them, I found them less likeable and this made me feel more ambivalent towards their stories.
There are several twists in Last Seen, and I remained intrigued enough to keep reading to discover the truth behind Jacob's disappearance. However, I found some of the twists a little disappointing in that I felt they were either too predictable or too far fetched.
I finish Last Seen feeling slightly underwhelmed. Although I enjoyed the increasing tension as the novel progressed and was impressed by the quality of Clarke's writing, I feel that the plot is not original and has been executed better elsewhere.
Last Seen is available for preorder on Amazon.