The Split (2020) by Sharon Bolton

Felicity Lloyd works at a research base at the ends of the Earth. Far away from anywhere, South Georgia is the ideal place for her research into glaciation. And it’s also the ideal place for someone to hide.

Because someone is following Felicity – hunting for her, in fact. Felicity ran away to South Georgia from Cambridge to hide from a life consumed by terror. And to hide from Freddie.

But now Freddie knows where she is. And Freddie is on his way…

I’ve been a big fan of Sharon Bolton ever since accidentally reading Now You See Me (long story), especially her Falklands-set Little Black Lies, a masterclass in juggling a small class. Her books are excellent thrillers that deliver clever twists along with compelling characters and are all well worth a read.

The setting here does leave you wondering where the plot can possibly go – South Georgia is all but uninhabited and a tale of someone chasing someone else around a frozen wasteland might seem a little stretched over four hundred and a bit pages, but about a quarter of the way in, we get a change – sorry, it’s too far in for me to mention without considering it a spoiler – and we gain an increased cast and many, many more questions.

This is a hard one to review without spoiling bits and pieces of it, which I obviously don’t want to do. It’s a gripping read that had me guessing which direction it was going in, with misdirections all over the place.

There is always a question of realism to balance against the psychological thrills of such a book, and I think the author does tend towards the former. I’ll be honest, I was expecting an additional twist towards the end, a final revelation which would have been a bit silly to be honest. The actual rationale given makes more sense and is much less sensational, and is probably a wiser choice.

I’ll be honest, it’s not my favourite of Sharon’s books, but do bear in mind that’s a very high bar. This is a tense, enjoyable read with characters that leap off the page and is definitely worth your time.

The Split is released on ebook tomorrow – April 30th – and in hardback on May 28th. Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, Orion, for the review copy.

5 comments

  1. Thanks for the review. 😊 I’ve tried one novel each from Stuart MacBride and Sharon Bolton, off the back of your reviews – and I think I find them too dark and tense – for my taste. So it’s a subjective matter of preference. I think for Bolton, the one I tried was ‘Like this Forever’.

    Incidentally, with respect to your phrase, ‘a masterclass in juggling a small class’ – do you mean ‘small caste’? I was somewhat puzzled. 🤔

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    • No, I meant a small “cast”. Like This Forever is pretty dark, but the literary motivation is, I think, very clever – that’s one of my favourites of hers. But I can see why others would prefer something with a little more light in it.

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  2. Also, I think you meant that South Georgia was almost uninhabited. Actually, “almost inhabited” would be a great title for a book!

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  3. Great review! I’ve only read one novel by Sharon Bolton, but it was excellent. I read The Craftsman when it came out two years ago and thinking about it still gives me the shivers.

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