Skip to main content

Silent Saturday by Helen Grant

Silent Saturday: Forbidden Spaces Trilogy: Book One
If you are in the mood for a tense YA thriller, then I have just the book for you. Silent Saturday is an absolutely brilliant and gripping read. I read the whole thing in one day, unwilling to set it aside until I reached the end.

Veerle is living a stultifying life, smothered by her over-protective mother. Her mum is scared of her own shadow and demands to know where Veerle is all of the time. Her anxiety colours their whole existence and imprisons them in their shuttered and bolted home. Veerle is about to explode. Her avenues of escape are few, and when the climbing wall becomes out of bounds to her she is desperate for something, anything, else. It is either break free or break. The merest flicker of light glimpsed coming from inside an abandoned castle is enough to pique Veerle's curiosity. What she discovers inside changes her life completely.

She discovers a secret organisation devoted to finding and utilising empty buildings, whether permanently abandoned like the old castle or left unattended while the owners are on holiday. Members of the society spend time in the buildings, and in return for the use of the space do little odd jobs around the place as a way of saying thank you to the place. This doesn't make it any less illegal, buts salves the conscience of the participants. It is just the buzz Veerle is looking for; it's dangerous and exciting. Although, just how dangerous is quickly revealed as people start disappearing. Someone is picking off the members of the club, and Veerle has caught a glimpse of who.

The secret society links Veerle's past and present. A childhood friend is restored to her, but with him comes a long-buried memory. A terrible crime long ago and a remorseless killer long dead were also glimpsed by Veerle then. How is it possible that history is replaying itself? Veerle and Kris are determined to find the truth, but have a difficult time finding answers due to the clandestine nature of the club. They cannot go directly to the authorities without stirring up a whole heap of trouble for many people, but there is a very limited number of people who can help them. By taking matters into their hands they risk their own lives, directing the Hunter straight to them.

Veerle and Kris are a great team, what connected them as kids is even stronger after so many years apart. The attraction between them grows quickly and adds an extra emotional involvement. I like the tension between their actions and them as individuals. So, obviously breaking into places is wrong but I didn't want them to get caught, and they are in effect the heroes of the piece. I did get a bit hung up on the types of buildings considered empty. For example, abandoned and crumbling castles seem fairly harmless targets, especially when little tasks to improve the place are carried out. But, the homes of the rich and famous are something quite different. Kris is trying to impress Veerle by taking her to fancy places with swimming pools and wine cellars while the owners are on holiday. To me these do not qualify as empty buildings, and justifying it by saying the residents are rich seems very empty morality.

That actually leads me to something else I really like about the book - Veerle and Kris are not straightforward characters. Veerle routinely lies to her mum, to protect her from a more worrying truth, they know what they are doing is wrong but don't stop, and their plans to catch a killer are naive at best. They are pretty ordinary young people facing an extraordinary situation. I like the ambiguity and opportunity to think through moral conundrums for myself.

Silent Saturday is the first in a trilogy called Forbidden Spaces, all set in the Flanders area. The end of book one leaves a very big question unanswered (well possibly two) and I can't see Veerle having an easy time of it in book two. One thing is for certain, I will be there to find out.

I was very fortunate to receive a copy for review from the publisher. The Hardback is published on 4 April 2013, and is a very handsome thing, which the photograph at the top of my review does not do full justice!


Popular posts from this blog

Interview With The Vampire: Claudia's Story by Anne Rice and Ashley Marie Witter

Super Special Summer Picnic Book Chase

My nieces and nephews and I have a monthly book club, called Book Chase (although it sometimes gains an extra 's' to become Book Chasse). The rules are simple: we all bring something we've read during the last month, talk about it to each other, and eat snacks. We live tweet each meeting with the hashtag BookChase. Sometimes, when we remember, we Storify all the tweets too. This month, we remembered!


How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone...  Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen. But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?
This book illustrates how special a thing it is to have people send you books out of the blue; it's a privilege and a pleasure. I wouldn't have known about this book, let alone read and loved it, if it hadn't landed in my letterbox. I'm …