Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach

BLOG“People must be terrified of losing all mystery. No one wants the complete picture, the whole story. It would leave no room for the fictions we need to tell ourselves about ourselves.”

Ava Antipova has always wanted to run away, and after a deep betrayal she finally sets off for Paris where she makes her home and creates a new life. However, the news of her twin sister Zelda’s death leaves her in shock, bringing her back to her childhood home and reuniting her with her troubled and fractured family. Ava feels things are not quite right and she cannot shake off her suspicions. She soon begins to receive letters and messages from Zelda herself that are clues to her whereabouts, leading Ava on a scavenger hunt to find her sister and the truth.

“I realize that I’m again filling in the chinks with fantasies, stuffing the cracks of absence with stories.”

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Dead Letters is a page-turning mystery that captured my attention from the first paragraph right up to the last page. The novel starts off with Ava telling the story of her and her sister, Zelda’s birth and how they received their names, which provides a great introduction to these two characters. The family in the story is deeply troubled and dysfunctional and it is not one of those books where you necessarily like the characters, but instead it is about being drawn into their chaotic world and anticipating as to how it will all unfold. I very much enjoyed the writing in this novel and the tone the author sets, which is a perfect balance of introspective and sarcastic. Overall, a compelling mystery that ponders our relationships with others and our relationship with ourselves.

“We sit quietly and I’m unsure of what else to say. We are in dangerous territory; we could reminisce, savouring the memories of when it was good. Get lost in what it was like to be young and stupid in love. But that would overwrite how things became, and how we left them.”

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