Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives … in an instant.
Hi and welcome to my review of A Song of Isolation!
London, 2010. Rising film star Amelie Hart is the victim of a home invasion. Hook, line and sinker, I knew there was no turning back from this story. Five years later, Amelie has put her acting career on hold indefinitely. Still traumatised from what happened, she leads a life away from the limelight with her boyfriend Dave in Scotland.
On a quiet night in, the police come knocking. Dave has been accused of abusing their eleven year-old neighbour Damaris. Dave denies all charges, is adamant he was never anything but a caring neighbour. Amelie is convinced he’s one of the good guys. Damaris is a lonely and confused little girl. Someone is lying. But who, and why? The tabloids are having a field day. Journos and neighbours and Damaris’s family alike have convicted Dave before he’s even seen the inside of a courtroom, and Amelie right along with him, because surely he can’t have abused the girl next door without her knowing.
Once again, Michael Malone has taken a subject that’s, quite frankly, been beaten half to death, gave it a spin, breathed life into it, and made it shiny and new and highly original. In a sensitive manner, he explores what might happen when a girl comes home crying after getting hurt in the company of the neighbour, how things might get misconstrued, how a child might get confused by well-meaning and less well-meaning family and professionals, and how she might suffer afterwards, shunned because people don’t know how to react.
A Song of Isolation is extremely thought-provoking in that way, simply because it highlights all the things that could go wrong with child abuse allegations. We’d rather err on the side of caution, but do we ever stop to think about what a wrongful conviction might do to an innocent person, how it might ruin their life forever? And where is the line between trying to get a child to open up about abuse, and putting words in their mouth? Such a difficult balancing act, and it’s been going round and round in my head, I can’t let it go and I can’t possibly explain properly just how much A Song of Isolation got under my skin, I can only ask you to please read it.
A Song of Isolation is definitely one of my favourite Malone novels to date and one I’ll cherish. I can always count on Michael to break my heart, and while I didn’t need to drown my sorrows in a tub of ice cream this time, I did have a lump in my throat for much of the story. Entertaining, riveting even, on the surface, but with deep dark depths, as is the Malone way. Part thriller, part drama, intriguing from the start, tense and suspenseful, thought-provoking and heartbreakingly beautiful, highly recommended.
A Song of Isolation is out in eBook right now, and in paperback as from 17 September.
Huge thanks to Orenda Books for the review copy! All opinions are my own.