Blog tour: 4 to 11 August 2021
The wounds you can’t see take the longest to heal …
In an isolated cottage on the banks of a Scottish loch, a reclusive couple take on a new live-in carer.
As Lucy gets to know her employers, she realises the house and the people in it aren’t what they seem. Is the house haunted or is something far more sinister living within the walls?
As secrets and lies begin to unravel, Lucy starts to question what is real. But one thing seems certain, if scars cannot heal, people will never forgive …
Scars begins in 2008 with a terrifying scene involving several women, then we skip forward in time and meet Lucy, who is starting a new job as a live-in carer for a reclusive couple, Diana and Richard Davenport, at Willow Cottage, which is located near a remote Scottish loch on the west coast of Scotland. Lucy will be looking after Richard and preparing meals and doing other household tasks.
Diana, an artist, is in her late sixties and her husband is a similar age and was an even more successful artist. The couple were both badly injured in a nasty car accident in London and Richard has been left in a wheelchair in a vegetative state and can’t communicate or respond and Diana has bad scarring on her face and suffers bad pain from her injuries.
We meet a local man called Mylo, who brings food supplies to the cottage, delivers mail and does other odd jobs like gardening. He shows Lucy around the area on his boat and seems friendly, if slightly troubled.
As Lucy gets to know her introverted and eccentric employer, Diana, she learns more about the couple’s pasts, their daughter and about the dreadful events that have happened recently in the house. Diana is addicted to painkillers and sleeping pills and drinks far too much alcohol. Her mental health deteriorates and she stops painting and she imagines things and becomes convinced that the house is haunted.
Diana’s behaviour gets more erratic and her drinking and pill popping get even worse and she doesn’t look after herself properly, let alone her husband. Lucy struggles to care for Diana as well as Richard and she has to call for help on several occasions as the situation worsens and she becomes concerned for her own safety.
The story is told from Lucy and Diana’s points of view, with the odd flashback to the past, and it’s fascinating to read how differently the women see the same events. Neither of them was very likeable. Diana, in particular, is cold and aloof and rather mean to Lucy, who is doing her best to look after the couple in rather difficult circumstances, in a remote and isolated location with no modern communications!
Overall, I really enjoyed this dark, tense and twisty thriller. It was chilling, disturbing and kept me gripped throughout and I was never quite sure which way it was going – all kinds of theories were running through my head and I had suspicions about several characters! Everyone seemed to be hiding things and they were all rather flawed characters, who were untrustworthy and unreliable narrators with lots of secrets.
I’m not usually a fan of ghostly supernatural stories but it worked well in this case and the creepy cottage and the beautiful but isolated rural setting combined well to create an eerie and unsettling gothic read.
The title of the novel is perfect – the main characters were all scarred, both physically and mentally, and it was intriguing to find out more about them as the cleverly plotted story progressed and elements were revealed.
This is the first book of the author’s that I’ve read but I’m now keen to read Damaged and Girl A.
Buy the book
About the author
Dan Scottow grew up in Hertfordshire before moving to London in his early twenties. After more than 10 years living there, he decided enough was enough, and packed his bags for Scotland in search of a more peaceful life.
Dan works as a graphic designer, but dreams of the day he can give it up and write full time.
Besides writing, he enjoys painting, watching a good scary film, travelling the world, good food, long walks on the beach with his dogs, and of course, reading a great book.
Dan’s psychological thrillers, Damaged and Girl A, are out now, and available to buy or download.
Thanks to Dan Scottow for my digital copy of Scars and for my place on the blog tour.