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Mice
     

Mice

4.5 18
by Gordon Reece
 

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An electrifying psychological thriller about a mother and daughter pushed to their limits.

Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the

Overview

An electrifying psychological thriller about a mother and daughter pushed to their limits.

Shelley and her mom have been menaced long enough. Excused from high school where a trio of bullies nearly killed her, and still reeling from her parents' humiliating divorce, Shelley has retreated with her mother to the quiet of Honeysuckle Cottage in the countryside. Thinking their troubles are over, they revel in their cozy, secure life of gardening and books, hot chocolate and Brahms by the fire. But on the eve of Shelley's sixteenth birthday, an unwelcome guest disturbs their peace and something inside Shelley snaps. What happens next will shatter all their certainties-about their safety, their moral convictions, the limits of what they are willing to accept, and what they're capable of.

Debut novelist Gordon Reece has written a taut tale of gripping suspense, packed with action both comic and terrifying. Shelley is a spellbinding narrator, and her delectable mix of wit, irony, and innocence transforms the major current issue of bullying into an edge- of-your-seat story of fear, violence, family loyalty, and the outer reaches of right and wrong.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Early on in Reece's disappointing first novel, a predictable psychological thriller, bullies attack shy, unpopular Shelley Rivers in the girls' bathroom at her London secondary school, setting her hair on fire with a cigarette lighter. After Shelley gets out of the hospital, her recently divorced mother, Elizabeth, withdraws her from school, and they move to Honeysuckle Cottage, a remote country property bought with Elizabeth's share of the divorce settlement from her stock cad of a husband. At first, everything is looking up: Shelley's former school arranges for tutors so she can prepare for her exams, and Elizabeth throws herself into her job at a law office. But their peace is shattered in the early morning of Shelley's 16th birthday when a burglar breaks into the cottage. The violent repercussions force Shelley and Elizabeth to question how far they're willing to go to protect the new life they've built. While bullying is a hot topic, much of the plot relies too heavily on known genre tropes and coincidence. (Aug.)
Library Journal
This debut novel is a lukewarm psychological thriller that tells the story of Shelley, a teenager whose three best friends suddenly turn on her, turning her life into a living nightmare. The girls have been friends since grammar school, but by their senior year in high school, Shelley's friends have changed; they are no longer interested in school, instead turning to boys, drugs, and rebellion. Rather than going their own way when Shelley loses interest, their verbal harassment soon turns into frightening physical abuse. The title refers to Shelley and her divorced mother, once a formidable lawyer but now a subservient secretary. Shelley laments that they never show their true feelings and that they let people, her absentee father included, bully them. When Shelley and her mother finally crack, the story turns predictable. VERDICT The novel moves along at a fast pace, but the characters are not fully realized. The bullies and the father come off as stereotypes, and victimized Shelley and her mom fail to evoke the reader's empathy. Still, despite the novel's weaknesses, it is satisfying to watch Shelley's personality shift and the "mice" come into their own. Recommended for collections where Sophie Hannah is popular.—Marianne Fitzgerald, Annapolis, MD
Kirkus Reviews

Victims, pushed to their limits, turn aggressors in a starkly polarized debut thriller.

There's no mistaking the villains in Australia-based Reece's black-and-white story of cold-eyed, remorseless schoolgirl bullies; suave, vindictive, philandering husbands; and greasy, smelly, drug-pushing burglars. Nor the heroes either: Clever English schoolgirl Shelley and her equally smart mother Elizabeth are the endlessly meek "mice" who have lived through a chapter of horrors and recently moved into a remote new home to start afresh. Elizabeth's divorce has stripped her of money and forced her into a job where she is overworked and underpaid. Shelley, bright but innocent, has seen her friends turn violently against her, their final attack landing her in the hospital, burned and scarred. Rebuilding their lives in Honeysuckle Cottage, the women begin to rediscover contentment until a thief breaks in and unleashes their repressed anger, setting off an escalating sequence of bloodshed. Reece has a strong visual sense and does a neat job of ratcheting the tension, but a shortage of subtlety and Shelley's histrionic adolescent narration create an overall mood of near-comic caricature.

Mice roar and worms turn in a bare-bones moral fable that, despite visceral episodes, creates little impact.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780230751880
Publisher:
Mantle
Publication date:
02/28/2011

Read an Excerpt

My eyes snapped open and I was instantly wide awake. Even though I’d been sunk in the depths of a deep, deep sleep, the unmistakable pig squeal of the fourth stair had reached that part of the brain that never sleeps. I had no doubt what I’d heard, and I had no doubt what it meant: someone was in the house.

The fluorescent display of the alarm clock on my bedside table said 3:33.

I could feel my heart throbbing in my chest like something with a life of its own, like a rabbit writhing and twisting in a snare that grew tighter the more it struggled. I strained to hear above the booming roar in my temples. My ears probed outside my bedroom door—the landing, the staircase—like invisible guard dogs, constantly sending back information: silence, silence, silence, there’s only silence, we can find nothing. Could I have been mistaken? But I knew I wasn’t. I’d heard the fourth stair scream under a person’s weight.

Sure enough, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting there came the groan of another stair, a higher stair: someone was in the house.

I was paralysed with fear. Since my eyes had opened I hadn’t moved a muscle. It was as if a primitive instinct—to keep absolutely still and not make a sound until the danger had passed—had taken control of me. Even my breathing had become so slow, so shallow that it made no sound, and didn’t move the quilt the tiniest fraction. I thought about the rounders bat I kept under the bed “in case of burglars”, but I was powerless to reach down to grasp it. Something stronger held me frozen and immobile. Keep still, it ordered, don’t make a sound until the danger’s passed.

Meet the Author

Originally from the United Kingdom, Gordon Reece studied English literature at Keble College, Oxford, before emigrating to Spain and then Australia, where he has lived since 2005. In the UK and Spain, he has published several illustrated children’s books and graphic novels. Mice is his American debut and first novel.

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Mice 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Well developed characters, twists of the plot make this book a great read. Hope that Gordon Reece nex book will be as good as this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story full of twists and turns and unexpected actions from the characters involved. A great first novel from this author! I look forward to more from him!
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Shelly has been bullied by girls who used to be her best friends. Her mother, Elizabeth, was bullied by her husband until he left her for a younger woman, she is now bullied by her employers. They leave London and retreat to Honeysuckle Cottage in the country. Elizabeth stills commutes to the same office everyday. These woman are MICE! Timid, nervous and put everyone before themselves. They love their life in the country until the eve of Shelly's sixteenth birthday. Something horrifying will change their lives forever. Maybe they are not mice after all. My Thoughts I find myself really on the fence about this book. It addresses the very common problem these days of bullying. For the first half of the book I was right there turning pages, feeling the right emotions for what these women were going through. Then the book took a very dark and even more horrifying turn that what these women had endured. I found it hard to keep going but I finished the book, hoping beyond home this dark theme would I don't know, magically go away. It didn't. I also found the whole premise very unbelievable. I know the author is trying to dramatize the extreme extent bullying can go to, but no, a mother and daughter couldn't turn into the women they created. If they do I hope and pray they are few and far between. It is a well written book and the part of the bullied Shelly and how she kept the incidents to herself until they escalated to a point where she was so physically hurt the paramedics had to be called was very well portrayed. Her actions and her thoughts. I understand this is a psychological thriller, but to me it's a thriller that goes off the rails. Maybe young adults will not have the reaction I had as a mother. I found myself very troubled by the second half of the book and had to wait to write this review and really collect my thoughts. Yes, there was suspense, yes, the were varied psychological aspects at play. The author just went a little too far for me. Because I liked the first half and have warned you about the second half I will give it 3 stars. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Viking. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book until about the last third of it. I read this expecting lots of twists & turns, but I feel like I've seen it done better. It was definitely not a bad book, really well written, awesome character development, I just feel that it lost it's thunder in the last few chapters, with a bit of an unsatisfying ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Purrs thankyou
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What clan is this
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Hello......