Cover Image: The Unforgotten

The Unforgotten

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Member Reviews

I have to admit when I first started reading this book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. A very unusual storyline with some complex descriptions which sometimes felt a bit too much but after a while I got into the rhythm of the book and despite figuring out who did what before the finish, ended up thoroughly enjoying it.

My thanks to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review honestly.
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*This book was previously published as 'Tethered'*

Amy MacKinnon has crafted a wonderful atmospheric mystery that envelops the reader in the life, work and rituals within a funeral parlour. If I'm honest, I made the mistake of failing to acquaint myself with the basic outline of this story before committing myself to reading it, but that turned out to be very much in my favour as I revelled in this fascinating tale.

Clara Marsh is an experienced undertaker who takes pride in providing dignity and respect to the dead, choosing flowers from her garden that seem apt for each individual. The intricate details and procedures of Clara's expertise in her profession are presented for the reader to digest, many of which made for uncomfortable reading, in spite of the beauty of Amy MacKinnon's writing.

When a neglected young girl begins playing at the funeral home, Clara is besieged with memories of her own unhappy childhood. Trecie reminds Clara of her younger self and she feels compelled to try to save the youngster. But Clara's struggles with emotional attachment prevent her from getting too close and Trecie vanishes. Then Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning Clara again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found mutilated in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn that Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between her solitary but dependable existence and the perils of forming close relationships with others. As the story develops, Clara finds herself and those around her being drawn into increasingly dangerous situations. She begins to make connections between Trecie and Precious Doe but is Clara a reliable narrator or is her own childhood leading her to see things that are not really there?

It took me a while to warm to Clara although I had plenty of sympathy for her. Eventually a connection was born as I began to see Clara as a woman who has suffered tragedy, abuse and trauma, resulting in her withdrawal from life, preferring instead, the company of the dead. Clara's determination to help Trecie is an effort to alleviate some of her own suffering she experienced as a child, without any such assistance. A tentative relationship forms between Clara and Mike, both such sorrowful and damaged souls, but is it strong enough to survive the dangers they face? 

I relished the uniqueness of the plot and it was a wonderful, refreshing change to read a novel that featured an undertaker and a Detective working together. I recommend The Unforgotten with confidence to those who enjoy an enthralling crime mystery, but especially to anyone interested in the world of undertakers and funeral parlours.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel from Orion via NetGalley at my request, and this review is my own unbiased opinion.
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The dead are never dead

Clara was sleeping when they crashed so she does not remember the accident that killed her mother, but she does remember her funeral and the undertaker who so kindly gave her a respite from her sombre, religious grandmother and her friends, whispering their doubts about her mother’s eternal salvation. He allowed her to touch her mother for the first time since the accident and she was awed by his ability to erase the wounds and help her see her mother as she knew her again. She was not comforted by a God who couldn’t give her back her mother; she found salvation in the undertaker who could and that’s why she became one. She works for Linus Bartholomew, a funeral director who opened his funeral parlour more than 40 years ago and leases a cottage behind the parlour. Linus and his wife, Alma, treat her like their daughter, not knowing all the pain and suffering that she has gone through in her life but making up for it, allowing her to retreat from the world, preferring the company of the dead.

Three years previously a young girl’s body was found in a strip of woods – no child fitting her description had been reported missing and no-one stepped forward to claim her body. A Baptist minister managed to get her body released to the Baptist congregation so that she could be buried and Clara was the one who saw what lay beneath the flesh, the layers hidden under the welts and bruises and she is determined that those who are ignored in life, will not be ignored in death. 

One day she discovers a little girl playing in the funeral parlour – a little girl who must be in a world of pain if a funeral home is where she turns to for comfort and her friendship with the child leads her into a world of child neglect, sexual abuse and paedophiles; into the constancy of living with fear and danger but also into finding love.

I enjoyed this multi-layered book very much, and it also brought home to me once again how you can never know someone just from their exterior or what they choose to reveal to you about themselves. There are many layers in all of us and I don’t think we ever allow one single person to penetrate all the layers to our core.

Saphira

Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review.
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It took me a while to get into this book, it's definitely a slow burn type of read. Clara is a fascinating character and the author really brings her to life. Although it is a crime novel, there's a lot of focus on it being character driven. 
It deals with some pretty dark themes and isn't the easiest of reads as a result. A great debut, highly recommended!
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It’s a slow burn, this story, with some wonderfully realised characters and an intriguing, if dark plot. Undertaker Clara looks after the dead, preparing them for their burials at the funeral parlour. She’s an interesting character is our Clara, a loner who spends most of her time with her work or her flower garden. She leads us through the story with the same care and precision that she attends to her work. We also meet Trecie, a young girl who plays in the funeral home, but who may be linked to the death of another girl, named Precious Doe, three years earlier.

It’s not an easy read in places, and deals with some very dark themes as the book progresses. But Clara is there to guide us through, taking our hand to lead the way, as she does with her charges in the mortuary under the funeral home.

The storytelling is lush with atmosphere, and I really warmed to Clara after a somewhat chilly start. It’s a book to savour, though I got through it in the course of a day, absorbed in the story.
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This is a book, so different, it’s hard to describe. It’s beautifully written, a heart wrenching tale about a funeral director who cares so lovingly for the bodies she looks after, the story also includes, murder and intrigue, as well as it having an element of mystery/ thriller about it.

I feel bereft having finished it and will need to take a day or so before embarking on my next book as this one touched me so deeply.

A solid 4* from me.

Thanks to Netgalley, Orión and the author for this incredible read.
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This is a beautifully written atmospheric mystery by Amy Mackinnon that immerses the reader in the life, work and rituals at a funeral parlour. It's a book that I fervently wish I had never read, and I did seriously consider dropping the book at around 20%, but I just could not let it go. There are just some books that manage to get past my self protective defences, this was one of them, and it takes some time to recover from reading this book. I read a lot of dark, disturbing and unsettling fiction, but the characters and the themes of child and sexual abuse, paedophiles, grief, sorrow, neglectful parents, and broken people and lives, inescapably seeped into me here, with all its unadulterated horror. Clara Marsh is an expert and experienced undertaker who takes pride in providing dignity and respect to the dead, choosing flowers from her garden for each that seem apt for each person. The intricate details and procedures of Clara's profession are provided, much of which are rather hard to stomach. 

Clara is close to no-one, she lets no-one in, she is perfectly at ease in her underworld inhabited only by the dead, welcoming each newly dead entrant, busying herself in the familiar routines and rituals. 3 years ago, she prepared the body of Precious Doe, an unidentified murdered child, this unsolved case haunts Detective Mike Sullivan, a man struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife, Jenny, killed by a drunk driver. Mike insists on pursuing leads on Precious, but for Clara, the dead are dead, there is no benefit in disturbing them, so she is inclined to be unco-operative and not so truthful in answer to his questions. For Mike, the dead are not dead, and he is reluctant to let injustice pass. A young girl, Tecie, begins to frequent and play in the funeral parlour, latching onto Clara, into whom she intuits a kindred soul. Clara recognises the similarity between them, her life and profession means she is familiar with girls like Tecie, with problematic mothers with drug and drink issues, families known to children services and the police. She is reluctant to create a bond with Tecie, until she becomes aware of the danger the child is in, working with Mike to solve the mystery of Precious and find Tecie, which is to inexorably bring death knocking at her door.

MacKinnon brings the character of Clara vibrantly alive, a woman who has suffered such knocks, tragedy, abuse and trauma in the world that she has withdrawn from life altogether, preferring the company of the dead. Her disturbingly ghastly religious grandmother with whom she lived after the death of her mother has a lot to answer for. Clara is close only to Linus and Alma, the compassionate owners of the funeral parlour, and who regard Clara as their daughter, even though she cannot bear any physical expressions of their love for her. Clara's drive to help Tecie is an effort to provide succour to the child within her who received no such help. A delicate and tentative relationship begins to form between Clara and Mike, both such sorrowful and damaged souls, but is it strong enough to survive the dangers they face? Highly recommended read, and if you are interested in the work of undertakers and the running of funeral parlours, this provides a fascinating picture of what it entails. Many thanks to Orion.
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Let me start by saying what a brilliant debut. You couldn’t even tell! I loved it. I have so many questions I could ask after reading this story… Has it messed with my mind? Did I understand the outcome correctly? What just happened??

Brilliantly written. I expect this is not an easy read for some readers due to what actually happens within the book and it containing children. However, I felt the author wrote about it brilliantly and not going into too much depth about it.

Clara is a wonderful main character even if she does have a hidden past and her own personal problems to deal with. She takes pride in her job and always does the best she can. Not a job I would do (Undertaker). Mike was a split character throughout you either got his business, police side or the caring, loving man side.

I haven’t read many books that are mainly set within a funeral palour but this worked well for this story. I must mention I learnt a lot about flowers from this book and there hidden meanings, interesting. I enjoyed reading this one with a most unexpected, dark outcome to finish with. I awarded four stars and would highly recommend.
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The Unforgotten is an unique and emotional crime story that i will definitely be thinking about for a while.

The setting of the book in an undertakers is an unusual one and it was fascinating to learn more about what they do. The preparation of a body for burial is not one I’ve thought much about before and I enjoyed learning more about the process that they go through. Some of these details are a bit graphic and stomach churning though so its probably best to avoid if you are squeamish!

I wasn’t sure about the main character Clara at first as she came across as being quite emotionless and standoffish, especially towards Trecie. As we discover more about her past though it becomes obvious that her experience have shaped how she acts now. I found myself warming to her as the book goes on, especially with her attempts to befriend the little girl which i though were quite heartwarming.

The book starts off slow but soon gathers pace with lots of twists and turns that keep the readers attention. I felt that the book focused more on the human element on the story rather than the investigation which made me feel more invested in the story as i got to know the characters very well. The story of the little girls is an emotional one and my heart broke for all that they had experienced. As a mother of three I can’t understand how anyone could do that to their children and I often found myself tearing up whilst reading.

I must admit that I did guess elements of where the story was going but this didn’t put me off as I was so enjoying the story that it was interesting to watch it all unravel. The final twist did take me by surprise though and I thought it was quite shocking which i always love when a book manages to take me by surprise.

The Unforgotten is a fantastic debut and I look forward to reading more from this author. If you like emotional, gripping crime fiction then you’ll love this book.

Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me onto the blog tour and to Orion for my copy of this book via Netgalley.
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4☆ Atmospheric Crime Mystery

The Unforgotten is a fabulous crime fiction, Mystery with a dash of thriller.

When I read the blurb for The Unforgotten I was very intrigued. The first thing that jumped out at me, was that the main character is a female undertaker that spends most of her life with the deceased.
It's not something I've come across before and it created a chilling atmospheric blurb that didn't disappoint!

Clara is an undertaker which really is the perfect job for her. She hasn't had the easiest of upbringing and has left her with no self confidence and a difficulty in connecting with others. 
She prefers to be alone, so working with the deceased suits her.

When Clara comes across Trecie a young girl who happens to be playing in the funeral parlour, she slowly lets down her guard and warms to her.

Detective Mike Sullivan is also interested in Trecie, he seems to think she might just be connected to a body of a young lady that was brutally murdered several years ago.

Between the two of them they become embroiled in a dangerous mystery to try and work out how they are connected, and who killed Precious Doe.

I really warmed to Clara, I had the greatest respect for her, I couldn't do her job. I was there when my nan took her last breath and it has haunted me ever since. 

I liked Mike despite his tortured soul, he was determined and persistent at getting a result for Precious Doe and laying her memory to rest. 
I do hope we get to see more from him.

Despite figuring things out, I really liked the uniqueness of the plot. 
It's a refreshing change to feature a funeral parlour and a undertaker and Detective working alongside each other. 
Two very different characters that just clicked.

The Unforgotten Is an atmospheric eerie read, that was a lil chilling at times, the characters were well written, complex and likeable, the plot was compelling, twisty, unique, and drew me in.

I definitely recommend reading this Enthralling Crime Mystery, 
I do hope this might be the start of a fabulous new series and a unique duo?


Thank you to Trapeze Books for this copy which I reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
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A Tragic Story that will Stay with you Long after the Last Page
December was an even more hectic than usual month. On top of all the usual Christmas hullaballoo we had the crazy notion that adding an international move with two kids to the mix would somehow be a good idea. How wrong we were. By the time New Year came around and my feet had hit solid ground in France, I was so frazzled that I couldn’t even recall my own phone number. Time to curl up in front of the fire with a good book and recharge the batteries.

With a huge pile of books waiting to be read, I was spoilt for choice. My last three books of 2018 were all about the Holocaust – not exactly light reading – so I planned to start 2019 with something light, fluffy and easily digestible.

And then “The Unforgotten” appeared on my Kindle.

“The Unforgotten” is more dark and disturbing than light and fluffy. The main character, Clara, is an undertaker and the book opens with a graphic description of her at work. Heavy going for someone as squeamish as me!

However, once I got past this I was very quickly hooked. The story has many layers and I couldn’t wait to find out how everything would fit together.

Clara struggles to leave her traumatic childhood behind but although I couldn’t help feeling sympathy for her, I didn’t warm to her character at first.

She struggles to form normal relationships with the living and seems a whole lot more comfortable with the dead. But as I got deeper into the book, I started to appreciate Clara’s bluntness and self-awareness as well as her slightly unexpected love of flowers.

When a neglected young girl begins playing at the funeral home, Clara is reminded of her own unhappy childhood. Trecie reminds her of her younger self and she feels compelled to try to save her. But her difficulties with emotional attachment prevent her from getting too close and Trecie disappears.

As the story develops, Clara finds herself and those around her being drawn into increasingly dangerous situations. Three years earlier, Clara had prepared the body of an unidentified girl whose mutilated remains had been found in nearby woods. She begins to make connections between Trecie and the murdered girl but is Clara a reliable narrator or is her own childhood leading her to see things that are not really there?

The book is beautifully written and it’s easy to get completely absorbed in the story. All of the characters are described so well that they come alive, even the more unsavoury ones.

As the story began to unfold, I found it harder and harder to put down. The tension built and I found myself holding my breath, my heart racing, as the story reached its climax.

Amy MacKinnon doesn’t shy away from some very unpleasant topics – child abuse, paedophiles, drug overdoses, domestic violence, broken marriages, murder, bereavement and terminal illness all feature. It’s not an uplifting book but it certainly opened my eyes to some of the shadier things that go on in our society.

Sharp, captivating books like this are often let down by their endings so I approached the final chapter with a degree of trepidation. I need not have worried. MacKinnon tied things up skilfully leaving enough loose ends and unanswered questions to keep me thinking about the book for a long time after I had read the final page.
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What a little gem this was and such a refreshing aspect and character who told the storyline! I was intrigued by a story being told by an undertaker as I’ve not read anything like it before.

The last line of the first chapter and the last line of the chapter with the second body chilled me, I had a strong suspicion it was coming but still it got me. And then this story started to weave its magic on me and kept its hooks tightly on me as we read and learn.

There was something special about Clara, the MC, the undertaker. She is so innocent and almost doe eye. She leads a simplistic life after her childhood and shuts herself off from everyone. I felt for her in one bit when she overheard people talking about her that just made me so sad for her, but she didn’t want my sympathy. With her character, you get an insight to behind the scenes at an undertaker and the magic they weave on the departed, to get them to look how you would remember them. Can not even fathom how someone can do that job but she does it so well.

Like I mentioned the story had me gripped, as Detective Mike Sullivan still grieving from the loss of his wife, is relentless at his job and can not let sleeping dogs lie. His tenacity is what drives the book for me, still trying to solve a case of a little girl who died three years prior and probing Clara for information still.

Now as an avid reader you begin to see the signs of where the book is going to go. This never bothers me as I’m always so proud when I guess right (she still puffing her chest out). For me, it has and always will be the adventure and the journey we go on, how we get to the end and how the characters react. Here it was no different, I kind of knew where it was going, but it was the journey that Clara and Mike went on that had me compelled to get to the end. That is a sign of some awesome writing! I was fascinated by how this was all to play out and this book delivered with a shock and a punch!
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3.5 stars


This was an enjoyable read... despite all the abuse.
There were interesting characters,each with their own back story.
I don't mind admitting I thought we were looking at ghosts quite early on,and I guessed who the villain of the piece was... but it was written well enough that didn't matter.
However I'm afraid I couldn't give it a 4,just based on the part where we see the afterlife... Or whatever. That didn't fit rest of book for me.
Hope we see more of these characters.
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Brilliantly written and atmospheric story that really tugged at the heartstrings. I loved it! My full and expanded review will be posted as part of the blog tour soon.
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This is a shortish read and is utterly brilliant. 

Clara's job as an undertaker is fascinating and she truly cares for her 'bodies'.

The Unforgotten is a unique tale and one I have not come across before, it is just amazing to read and at times I got quite emotional. 

There is a fabulous cast of characters, but it is Clara who makes this book what it is, she is beautifully portrayed.
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An emotionally charged read with a unique insight via the character of Clara, both a joy to read but very melancholy. 

Looking forward to expanding my review for the upcoming tour. One to watch. Beautifully different and prose that digs deep.
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As soon as I read the blurb for this book I knew it was one I had to read. I don't think I've ever read a book where the main character has worked in an undertakers and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a bit of a morbid fascination with what the role entails.

I have to say that when I die, I hope I have someone like Clara taking care of my body. She gives her job her all and deals with her clients with the utmost respect. As we get to know Clara though, this is just the caring type of person she is. She is a bit of a loner and likes to just get her job done and then go home for the day. That all changes when she starts getting involved with the little girl that she finds playing in the funeral parlour. 

Mike is a great detective. He is battling with his own demons but he is another character that goes above and beyond in his job. You can tell he is another caring soul of which stands out throughout the novel. 

To a certain extent, the story was slightly too predictable for me. I guessed very early on a couple of things that I think we're supposed to be twists or surprises later on. Saying that, the story in itself is still a very compelling one and one that I did really enjoy. I think what sells this book is the very unique story line and for me that more than made up for working things out early on. 

The Unforgotten is an enthralling read that will draw you in and keep you there. Clara is a great character, there is just something about her that has you championing for her. I really enjoyed this story and can't wait to see what else the author comes up with.
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It took me a little while to get into the book as I didn't really warm to Clara, or any of the characters particularly but once I got into it, it picked up.

The story follows Clara who is an Undertaker and loner.  One day whilst working she meets a little girl, Trecie, who likes to play in the funeral home.  She realises over a few meetings that Trecie is neglected and feels some resemblance to her.  She has to decide whether to stay away from her or whether she should help her.....

Whilst picking up a body she discovers something disturbing and realises that Trecie may be involved. Working alongside Mike Sullivan she tries to investigate what's going on........

One thing I did find with this book is that I felt sad quite a lot as the back stories of the characters are all pretty unfortunate.  There are also some elements that may upset sensitive readers.

However, there are some really good twists in the book, especially at the end!! There are also a few unanswered questions which can be frustrating although I think it is down to the reader to make a decision for themselves.....I can't say much more without giving anything away!!  Let's just say after finishing the book (which I read in a day!) I had to take some time to think about what I'd found out......

On another note, I found out some very interesting stuff about funerary practices in here!!

I would recommend this book and if like me, you struggle to get into it, persevere as it will be worth it!
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