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Book Review: Duckling by Eve Ainsworth

Duckling’s a nickname Lucy has never been able to shake off.
And, if she’s honest, maybe it suits her.
She just isn’t the type to socialise with other people.
You might say she’s reluctant to leave her nest.

Lucy’s life is small, but safe. She’s got a good routine. But all that’s about to change…

Firstly, thank you to Bookworm Blogger for putting Duckling by Eve Ainsworth on my radar.

I honestly don’t think I’d have come across it otherwise, I hadn’t heard of it, and I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Without seeing it on here, it would have completely passed me by, and this is a book that is definitely deserving of more love and attention.

Lucy is Duckling.

She’s a 30-year-old woman, living alone in her flat. 

Lucy has no friends; she has a strained relationship with her father. She works in a book shop, she has her set routines, she keeps herself to herself and likes nothing more than getting home and watching old episodes on Columbo.

To be fair I can relate to parts of that…..some days there’s nothing I like more than getting home from work, curling up on the sofa, shutting out the world and watching old episodes of dodgy crime dramas. 

Let’s just say Lucy and I share a love of crap TV. 

Lucy’s quiet life is about to get turned upside down when Cassie moves in next door with her seven-year-old daughter Rubi.

One Friday night, Cassie asks Lucy to watch Rubi for a couple of hours, she’s insistent she trusts no one else and adamant Lucy doesn’t let Rubi go off with anyone else, no matter what they say. She pleads with Lucy to keep Rubi safe, promising she’ll be back soon.

Then Cassie fails to return.

Not knowing what to do or how to deal with a seven-year-old, Lucy’s going to have to learn to let people in if she’s going to find Cassie and keep Rubi safe.

Oh, this book is wonderful.

Anyone going into Duckling thinking it’s a straight thriller/mystery is in for a big surprise. It’s surprisingly emotional, it’s about humanity, forgiveness, loneliness and, ultimately, learning to fly.

“At last, I understood. Not all ducklings turn into swans. But this duckling had finally learnt how to fly.” Eve Ainsworth

I loved Lucy, our socially awkward heroine. I could picture her slumping to make herself smaller, shuffling around the estate desperate not to be noticed, she is so realistic, and I was intrigued to find out what had made her this way, why she felt it safer to keep people at arm’s length.

Despite her insistence that she’s ‘not a people person’, Lucy is quite perceptive, she can read most situations. Her instincts about Cassie and the type of person she is, are bang on the money.

Her instincts about herself are what let her down. Lucy doesn’t realise that she actually does have a friend in Jimmy and she’s able to build trust and relationships with the people she meets during her hunt for Cassie. She’s more of a people person than she realises, there’s nothing abnormal about her.

I loved how she developed throughout this book, how she came to realise the importance of community and people. How she able admit the depths of her loneliness. I really wanted her to see her own worth and have the courage to let people in.

Duckling tackles problems within society, there’s hints of how difficult life is for people on the estate and there are some dark scenes that add to the realism of this book.

There’s a theme of grief and never really dealing with that properly that runs through Duckling, the lasting effect that boxing up those feelings can have years down the line, the wasted opportunities and the half lived lived.

Add into that the mystery of what has happened to Cassie, and this becomes a book that you’ll end up binge reading. Like Lucy and Rubi, I was trying to put the pieces together to work it out.

It’s really well written with wonderful supporting characters that you can picture (you’ll have seen a Lucy, you’ve probably met a blunt talking seven-year-old like Rubi) they’re well rounded and feel like people you’ve met.

I’d LOVE to read more about them, I really want to know what happened next, I want to see more of Lucy. That’s the sign of a good book, when you want more from the characters at the end.

 Duckling is a real page turner of a mystery but uplifting and surprising too.

A definite must read!

Have you read Duckling? I’d love to hear your thoughts too…

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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