Cover Image: Scarlet in Blue

Scarlet in Blue

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I was really surprised with how much I enjoyed this novel! I loved the alternating voices, it really helped push the story. This was a unique story that I really enjoyed and the prose was beautiful.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2023 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="">
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For her entire life, 15-year-old Blue Lake and her artist mother, Scarlet, have been running from HIM -- moving from town to town, desperate to escape the specter of a black Cadillac and the evil man it contains. At the beginning of Scarlet in Blue, it's 1968, and Blue and Scarlet have arrived in South Haven, Michigan. Unlike all the previous times they've moved, though, Scarlet has chosen this location deliberately. She hopes to connect with Henry, a local psychoanalyst, and begin working through her past trauma. Meanwhile Blue, whose nomadic life has been defined by strict rules, discovers that the world is opening up for her in new and exciting ways.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Blue, Scarlet, and Henry, Scarlet in Blue is an eerie, stirring psychological novel -- part coming-of-age, part family drama, part suspense -- exploring the consequences of unhealed trauma and the enduring bond between mother and child. The mother-daughter relationship is one that has been written about by countless authors in countless novels, but Jennifer Murphy breaks new ground with her portrayal of Scarlet and Blue, exploring the variable nature of their roles within the relationship in interesting and thoughtful ways. The characters of Blue and Scarlet are richly-drawn and sympathetic and incredibly compelling.

Drawing on her background, Murphy uses art and music to add a fascinating thematic element to this novel, drawing readers into the various mechanics and techniques of painting and exploring the healing qualities of the arts. She does this while also weaving a dark, suspenseful, engrossing revenge plot and putting a fresh spin on the unreliable narrator trope. This book is so richly-layered, so textured and captivating, and the way it all comes together in the end is brilliant. I was absolutely floored by the book's conclusion.

The multiple perspectives does lead to some story overlap that could've been more tightly edited, but overall Scarlet in Blue was a special read for me. It's a beautiful, unique, and affecting story.
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There are a lot of well-worn tropes in Scarlet in Blue // Jennifer Murphy. It’s told in two separate timelines - 1968 and 2015; there are multiple POVs and not all are reliable; there are multiple mysteries to unravel - who are Blue and her mother Scarlet running from? What happened in Scarlet’s childhood? Who’s going to be murdered? Yet, something about this story still feels fresh. 

The use of the multiple POVs is expertly executed to reveal and conceal as needed and the use of music and art within the narrative was compelling. Unfortunately, the twists were a bit too obvious and the ending too tidy for me to really love it. But I did enjoy it.
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This was a slow burn with multi-dimensional characters, some are very eccentric. A slow buildup is needed to develop the characters. I think you should read the TW before starting this one.
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I’ve been trying for over two months to get into this book. Today I made it to 28% and had to call it quits. For a thriller, it was too slow and I didn’t care enough about the characters to feel connected to want to finish their story.
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I really wanted to like this one being I am from Michigan and the story takes place here.  But, it fell a little flat.  I do think others will like this, just not for me.  Thank you for the chance to read.
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Scarlet in Blue
Genre: Fiction Mystery 
Format: Kindle eBook
Date Published: 3/8/22
Author: Jennifer Murphy
Publisher: Dutton Books
Pages: 384
Goodreads Rating: 4.10 

TW ⚠️: Self-harm, child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton Books for providing a digital copy of the book for me to read in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Synopsis:. When Scarlet and Blue arrive in the beachfront town of South Haven, Michigan, it seems that Blue's wishes might finally come true. She makes a good friend, is falling in love for the first time, and has found a piano teacher who recognizes her budding talent. But even as Blue thrives, she cannot shake her worry about her mother, whose eccentricities and art are only becoming increasingly difficult to understand. Scarlet, meanwhile, has very different intentions for their stay in South Haven. It was no accident that she brought them there and, with the help of the psychoanalyst she's sought out, Henry, she is determined to find a way to finally escape the shadow of her traumatic past, no matter the cost.

My Thoughts: The story is narrated by Blue (daughter), Scarlet (mother), and Henry (Scarlet’s Psychoanalyst). This story has a mixture of a few things, a love story, the act of revenge, art, and creepiness.  The characters are developed well, so much so that at times you cannot tell if it is the storyline or imaginations of the characters. The book did start as a slow burn but started to heat up about a third of the way through. The slow burn was necessary in this book to set the stage for the plot. The author writing describes the scenes well, is creative, and kept me engaged. Overall I really enjoyed this book and it kind of gave me the Silent Patient vibe.
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I wish I could have liked this one. But it was not for me. The story just fell alittle flat and I had a hard time finishing this
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Set primarily in 1968 Scarlet in Blue follows 15-year-old Blue and her artist mother Scarlet who have recently moved to a small lakefront town in Michigan after years on the run from "HIM".  Blue has never seen the man her mother fears but has spent her entire life living in his shadow.  Scarlet has brought them to this new town specifically to connect with a psychoanalyst named Henry in hopes of curing her trauma.  

The story is told from the perspectives of Blue, Scarlet and Henry.  It becomes clear pretty quickly Scarlet has sought out Henry for more that just psychoanalysis, though her motives aren't transparent, nor is her mental state, though this isn't what I'd consider a typical unreliable narrator story.  Author Jennifer Murphy has a background in art, which she uses to add a really interesting layer to this story.  I think the plot could have been tightened up a little bit, at close to 400 pages I felt the story ran a little long, but overall a pretty solid psychological suspense thriller.  

I'm surprised I'm not hearing more about this one.  Scarlet in Blue is a very different book and should not be directly compared, but the vibe reminded me of The Silent Patient quite a bit while reading.
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Blue Lake yearns to settle in a place. For fifteen years, They have been uprooting their lives at a moment's notice and moving to new places because her mom Scarlet, an artist is convinced that "HE" is following them. Blue has no idea about "HIM" who haunts them. They finally settle in South Haven, Michigan. Just when Blue has settles in the town, making friends, finding love, Scarlet starts acting weird, which concerns Blue, little does she know this has some motive.

The story is told from different POVs, this dark and mysterious plot is sure to make you keep turning pages.

I thank netgalley and Emily Canders for providing me an ecopy of this book.
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I really enjoyed this book! At it's core, it revolves around the complicated mother/daughter relationship between Scarlet and her daughter, Blue. I thought the characters were complex and interesting, and the plot kept you turning the pages- although I would have loved an even faster pace. An awesome literary/art fiction novel with a peppering of mystery- 4 stars!
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I read about 25% of this  book before deciding not to finish. It was well written but the subject matter was not maintaining my interest. Thank you for the chance to read it!
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Thank you @netgalley @duttonbooks and Emily Canders for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

"This is a novel about a mother named Scarlet and her daughter, Blue who after a lifetime on the run from a dark and dangerous past, land in a small Michigan town that may hold the key to ending their fugitive lifestyle."

• I started reading this book without knowing the synopsis; that's why I don't have any idea what I'm getting myself into (and that's always!). I was hooked on the first few pages, but when I reached 20% of this book, I found it very slow, and the thought of not finishing crossed my mind. The word give up is not in my vocabulary, so I kept on reading it until I couldn't put it down! My head wants to explode because I am confused about the last chapter. I was continuously second-guessing myself because I couldn't tell what was genuine and what was made up, knowing there was a schizo disease involved.

• I didn't understand Scarlet at first, but she piqued my interest, and as her narrative unfolded, more of her personality became clearer, and I gradually came to accept her decisions and doings. I had mixed emotions reading this story. It's creepy, so mysterious, and I got teary-eyed near the end. After the big revelation, I didn't expect that there's still a bigger plot twist coming! Eventually, you'll learn why this book was entitled, Scarlet in Blue.

• I commend Jennifer Murphy for a beautifully well-written mother and daughter story. I badly need a discussion forum, so message me or comment below, if you've read this! For someone who loves classical art and music, and at the same time is a mystery and psychological thriller lover, this is perfect for you.
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For all of her young life Blue Lake can only remember running, running from one town to another random town every time her mother spots "Him", following them yet again. By the time Blue is 16yrs old she is tired of the upheaval the constant moving is doing to her life.. Never in one place long enough, and encouraged by her mother, Scarlett not to, Blue doesn't have friends or form bonds anywhere they live. Scarlett, Blue's mother, is a gifted artist with a troubled past that keeps her running scared, towing Blue along with her.
 As the pressure of past trauma increases upon Scarlett, she begins to lose touch with reality, escaping into her art and her imaginary world, causing Blue to fear the worse for her mother's mental state. 
The unreliable narrator works perfectly in this tense, mysterious tale told by four different POV"s, that of Scarlett, Blue, Henry, Scarlett's analyst and the Pianist, we get the revealing experience of seeing different scenes from the individual perspectives, enriching the reader's experience and increasing the intrigue of the plot, holding interest all the more throughout the entire book. 
This book is written beautifully, we connect almost immediately to Scarlett and blue's characters, it is well paced, except for maybe a small part near the middle where it slows but then it picks right back up until the end. 
Warning this book does touch on sensitive subjects, such as memta; o;;mess, child abuse, pedophilia, and murder, so reader beware. It also explores the relationship between mothers and daughters and just how strong the bonds are that ties them together. 
I highly recommend this to all who love the psychological thriller, this is a good one, off the usual beaten path which makes it all the more interesting. 
Thank you to the publishers at Penguin Group Dutton and to Net Galley for the free ARC, I am leaving my honest review in return.
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Scarlet in Blue was a pleasantly surprising unreliable narrator story with both a resolved and unresolved ending. Usually this would irritate me but the way the author did it was art. Which is apt since that’s the backdrop of this mystery. 
Scarlet and Blue live like fugitives running from city to city. Every time “he” finds them, Scarlet rushes them home to pack and pick new names before heading to the bus station. Then they start all over in a new place. It seems to Blue that Scarlet is okay with this lifestyle. But she’s getting older and she’s finally making friends in their latest town. So as she sees her mom’s health decline, she starts to look the other way for the first time. She finally has opportunities and she needs to take them. The only problem is she’s always got one foot out the door because it’s only a matter of time before “he” finds them again. Blue is starting to wonder if he’s real.
Scarlet has plans of her own. She knows this is the last town they will live in. She is finally ready to complete her plan. She’s been losing chunks of time lately and has some unexplainable behavior but she’s seeing a psychoanalyst about it. It’s lucky he’s a part of her plan. Because she can’t dispose of a body herself. 
Written in alternating timelines and alternating narrators, Jennifer Murphy weaves Scarlet, Blue and Henry’s stories together. Trauma and tragedy and the lifetime effects it had on all of them come together to create the backstory of the now world renowned pianist Blue Lake and her search to understand why her mother murdered a man. 

This was the fresh take on the mental health/unreliable narrator trope.
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I am so glad I got to read Scarlet in Blue from Penguin Dutton after seeing strong reviews for it earlier this year on bookstagram pages.  I find reviewing a thriller hard to do as I like to be spoiler free so I am going to summarize my spoiler free reasons for mystery/suspense fans to try this one:

1.  This was an unexpectedly strong thriller in that I am often disappointed by twisty plots these days but this one delivers!  I found the suspense and intrigue well developed despite a few places where pacing slowed down a bit for me (middle parts).

2.  Blending of themes on families and elements of therapy, I am a reader who likes family drama and I appreciate any time themes on therapy/counseling are present in a book as it allows for reinforcement that help is ok and resilience can be possible.

3. Reading along to help solve the mystery.  I liked the twists in that they did not alienate me as a reader, at times I feel twists are just to make the ending so out of sync with where the novel starts that no reader would ever make the connections to the ending.  Here I felt that the reader was allowed to be engaged with the mystery.

3.5 stars rounded to 4 here as for me some of the pacing and early writing style didn't work for me but overall the story and plot won me over
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This was a really excellent story that drew me in with its compelling characters, who were able to hold my attention despite an unfortunate slow-down in the middle that felt a little unnecessarily labored. 

Scarlet and Blue are brilliantly developed and leap off the page. I found the multiple perspectives (in addition to the mother-daughter duo who are the primary storytellers, there is a psychoanalyst and Blue-in-future) to mostly work quite well. There was a section in the middle where Scarlet and Blue layered chapter after chapter with a level of daily-life detail that slowed things considerably and drew me out of the overall pace of the book, but they remained fascinating enough that I just worked my way through - and I'm so glad I did, because the ending was really well executed with several twists and turns I did not see coming. Even when I figured out where at least some of the story's secrets were going, it did nothing at all to detract from my overall enjoyment. 

This is a painful tale of the devastation that is wrought by abuse and its aftermath, and there were sections that were very difficut to read. My heart bled for both Blue and Scarlet, and watching them struggle to care for each other in their own ways, with their own secrets and motivations, made for an emotional read. 

Murphy managed the ups and downs beautifully and I will definitely be on the lookout for more from here in the future. She has a deft hand with language and managed to convey the fragility and strength that underpin both women in a way that resonated strongly. It's a really wonderful story and I enjoyed the ride immensely!
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This dark and twisty thriller was such a fun read! I really enjoyed this unique story that kept me wondering what would happen next. At I thought I had it figured out and then I was surprised! Thrillers that are heavier on the psychological side are my favorite, and this book definitely hit that mark! I recommend it for any dark mystery fans.
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I was drawn to this book for a lot of reasons. The Michigan settings are familiar to me and I am always eager to read something that explores the mother/daughter dynamic in a new way. Scarlet in Blue gets off to a fast start, mainly because it jumps right into the the plot and provides the backstory later. And it definitely delivers the mother/daughter story arc in a unique way.

I enjoyed the way the story's pace is set by the daughter's (Blue's) perception of her mother's mental state. Scarlet (the mother) was the victim of abuse as a young child and while the reasons behind her being in that position are never quite explained, the result is a woman who is both artistically gifted and seriously disturbed. Her moods swing wildly from sad to manic in a way that anyone with a manic depressive/borderline schizophrenic family member will recognize. The way Blue normalizes her life around these swings is tragic but realistic.

Scarlet and Blue live on then run--running away from a man who at first seems like a figment of Scarlet's fevered imagination but later is revealed to be real, alive, and definitely chasing her. When they land in a tourist town on the west coast of Michigan, Scarlet is determined that it will their last stop and she is going to face her demon.

She does, with the help of a kindly analyst whose tie to the Super Bad Guy is revealed in surprising stages. And by the end of the novel, both Scarlet and Blue are living their artistic dream lives, even though one of them thinks the other one is dead. 

It's too easy to provide spoilers so I will leave it at that and encourage anyone who enjoys a twisty psychological thriller to dive right into this one. There is a lot of art and music used to describe feelings and situations and the reliance on both made this an even more pleasurable read for me.  The only (very small) thing I personally kept tripping over was the name "Blue Lake," because there is a "Blue Lake" in Michigan--it's where my kids went to summer camp for several years--but I loved Blue and was cheering for her to succeed all the way through. My other issue with it, plot-wise was the way the reasons that Scarlet was surrendered to the bad guy were mentioned once but never fully expanded upon. But I give this book a full 4 stars for readability, entertainment value, and creativity (plus "Michigan" as a setting!)
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