Dark Family Secrets Are Uncovered in Emma Rous’ ‘The Au Pair’

Title: The Au Pair
Author: Emma Rous
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Berkely
Source: eARC via NetGalley
Length: 320p
Publishing Date08 January 2019

“But the witches took the real twins anyway.” she’d whispered, wide-eyed. “And the fairies left you and Danny, sprite babies, as a swap. Is it true?”

In the Norfolk countryside stands Summerbourne, an estate that sits on the edge of the sea. With a long history of bad luck coming to each resident of the estate, the surrounding villagers pass stories like legends among each other. The latest tragedy — the death of Dominic Mayes — stirs up stories and secrets that someone will kill to keep hidden.

Seraphine Mayes, one half of what the villagers call the Summerbourne Sprites, returns to Summerbourne after the death of her father and starts to go through his things. Her future is unsure: what will happen to this house that she’s called home her entire life? Will the house go to her twin brother Danny? But when she discovers a picture in her father’s belongings of her mother, father, brother, grandma, and one newborn, not two, Seraphine begins to question whether or not she belongs in Summerbourne after all.

“We grew up wth no photos of our early days, Danny and I Yet here is our mother, sitting on the patio at Summerbourne, her face tilted down toward a swaddled baby cradled in her arms.”

What begins as a family mystery soon develops into Seraphine’s quest to understand who she is and her place in a world where neither of her parents are alive. Her mother killed herself the day Seraphine and Danny were born. Tragedy and loss are nothing new to her. Yet, something about the picture she found brings up doubts she’s always had about whether or not she actually belonged in this family. That maybe all of the village stories about something strange happening the day she and her brother were born are more than just alcohol-fueled scary stories.

But the closer Seraphine gets to the truth, the more people she puts in danger as someone works hard to try to keep the truth a secret forever.

“I wish I’d never started any of this. I want to go back to the way things were before I found the photo. I want to beleft to mourn my father without questioning whether he was my father.”

Told from Seraphine’s point of view from the present, and the au pair’s point of view in the past, The Au Pair is a gothic drama rich with scandal and suspense. While some elements of the story were very familiar to domestic thriller fans, I was kept riveted by Rous’s storytelling. A definite must-read for thriller and suspense fans.

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Nicole is an author, freelance writer and editor, and the Editor-In-Chief for Magnolia Press. When she's not writing or editing, doing yoga, or binging the latest crime drama on Netflix. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram @nicoleatone or on her blog at www.nicoleatone.com.

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