The Birthday Party by Wendy Dranfield

Published: January 7, 2022


Pages: 376

Genre: Crime Thriller

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this novel for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Wendy Dranfield is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives with her husband and three rescue cats. Her first novel (The Girl Who Died, 2015) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then, she has written two crime series – the latest follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit. Books 4 and 5 in this series will be published in 2022.

“If only we could rewind time, you know?”

Kathy has lived an outward life of privilege. But her personal life has been anything but. With her mother insistent on always presenting the perfect exterior, secrets were typical in the Hamilton family. When Kathy’s five-year-old daughter goes missing from a daily birthday party, the last thing anyone expects is the past to come forward. But now, it’s a race against time to find Charlie and figure out what secrets should stay buried and which to confess.

Holy buckets. This was an emotional journey from page one. And I loved every second. Not since I discovered Kiersten Modglin has an author completely gripped me and kept me guessing, only to have, I am utterly wrong in the end.

I loved and hated the characters. But I think that was intentional. Everyone is written so that they all have something to lose. Which means they are all suspicious.

Kathy is the epitome of perseverance. The things she has been through, which she has had to keep buried deep inside of her, are unfathomable. She is a survivor, a fighter, a damn good mother, and a strong woman.

Mitch is a putz. He tries to fit into a world he can’t, and he is very concerned with appearances. But he is also all too human and susceptible to making grievous mistakes.

Fay is the very definition of an anxious teenager who knows things aren’t okay at home but can’t prove anything. She is emotional, bold but also very considerate and compassionate. She’s also angry and doesn’t know how to process her feelings.

Chase is the perfect guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He is everything opposite Kathy. Blue-collar family, broken home, just not good enough. So naturally, when he and Kathy develop feelings as teenagers, Kathy’s mother will stop at nothing to make Chase disappear. And when money is no object, and you have connections- anything is possible.

Megan is a badass. Her life hasn’t always been easy, and she’s struggled with addiction. She’s made some bad choices, but she’s young and trying to figure things out. I loved her unapologetic attitude and ability just to be herself, no matter what. She had the stronger character arc, in my opinion.

Sweet Charlie was both one of the leading characters and a minor character. She was adorable, innocent, sweet, sassy, and full of life. Children can bring light into the lives of their loved ones, and it was described so beautifully that this was Charlie.

There were so many twists in this novel that I seriously have whiplash. This is my first novel by Wendy Dranfield, but it will not be my last. This was written in such a clever way, with surprises that launched out of nowhere, details that were in the moment small but ended up being huge, and an ability to bring so many emotions together.

This is one hell of a novel, and I am so glad I ended 2021 and started 2022 with this one. Whew. The emotional rollercoaster is real. There will be anger, hurt, tears, and lots of screaming. Read with caution because you will not be able to put this one down!

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