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Lois and Carly-May are just twelve years old when they’re abducted, driven across the country, and imprisoned in a remote, isolated hunting lodge for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they form a bond which will never be broken…

Decades later, both Lois and Carly-May have built new lives and identities for themselves. Lois, a professor of literature, is shaken when an obsessive and disturbing student begins to remind her of the man who kidnapped her, a man she saw shoot himself on the porch twenty years before. Writing gives her a chance to make sense of her life and control her own destiny, albeit on paper.

Out in LA, Carly-May is drinking too much and watching her beauty-queen looks fade, clinging to the last remnants of a once-promising career as an actress. When she reads a shockingly familiar screenplay, she warily she takes a role she knows is based on events from her own life.

Increasingly haunted by the devastating experience that shaped both their lives, Lois and Carly-May are drawn together again in a world that both echoes and falsifies their beautiful, terrible story. An enthralling portrait of two young victims, this chilling debut novel explores the very nature of survival and the triumph of hope over experience.

Read by Jennifer Woodward

(p) 2015 Orion Publishing Group

Reviews

A very original debut novel and an intriguing thriller
Susan Riaz
...psychologically astute tale about identity, mask-wearing and escaping the past, from the contrapuntal plotting to the heroines' deftly differentiated voices.
SUNDAY TIMES
Mitchell gleefully manipulates all these strands, dropping in references to murder-mystery novels, Bluebeard and the creepy Robert Browning poem Porphyria's Lover, in which a charismatic, smitten man ends up murdering his golden-haired lover. She then sends the characters off to the film's location for the dramatic denouement. This is a whip-smart beach read.
SUNDAY EXPRESS
There is a real ring of truth to this intelligent thriller, full of psychological tension. A great debut.
SUNDAY MIRROR
A gripping thriller with an incisive psychological twist, examining survival, friendship and memory.
THE LADY
Lois and Carly-May are just 12 years old when they're abducted and imprisoned for two months. They form a bond that will never be broken. Decades later, the girls have built new lives and identities for themselves. But increasingly haunted by the devastating experience that shaped them, they're drawn together again...
BELLA MAGAZINE
The survivors of a mysterious childhood abduction struggle with their memories in Maggie Mitchell's teasing, many-storied debut... Ever since Emma Donoghue, inspired by the Josef Fritzl case, impressed and horrified in equal measure with Room, there has been a slowly growing trend for thrillers about abducted children. Maggie Mitchell's debut, Pretty Is, joins a phalanx of fellow kidnap-lit novels out in recent months - The Girl in the Red Coat, How I Lost You, The Boy That Never Was - but stands out for its slick, subversive take on a trope that is showing no signs of going away.
OBSERVER
An atmospheric psychological thriller with two complex female characters at its heart, PRETTY IS deserves a place on your bookshelf.
HEAT MAGAZINE
a satisfying, literary, multi-layered novel, which teases the reader until the very end
DAILY MAIL
haunting debut novel... This novel is dense and unsettling, with a structure more akin to a literary novel than a straightforward crime story (the author is a university English teacher). There are alternating viewpoints, between Chloe and Lois, and a section which is a lengthy extract from Lois's novel, and the result is multilayered and memorable.
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