The Flower Girls – Alice Clark-Platts

First of all, thank you to Raven Books for sending me this beautiful hardback copy of The Flower Girls to read and review. It was so wonderfully packaged when I received it, I almost didn’t want to open it. But I was so glad I did, this was a FANTASTIC read!

This is the story of the Flower Girls. Two sisters, who back in 1997, were involved in a truly horrific crime – the torture and murder of a two year old girl. What makes this even more despicable, if possible, is the ages of the sisters. Laurel was ten when the crime was committed and Rosie was just six yeas old.

Laurel was sent to a children’s ‘prison’ until she reached eighteen, then she was transferred to an adult prison, where ten years later, she remains. Rosie was considered too young to be held responsible in the death of two year old Kirstie, so was given a new identity and moved away from Laurel, with her mother and father.

Rosie now goes by the name Hazel, and whilst on a holiday in Devon with her boyfriend, another young girl goes missing at the hotel she is staying in. Will the police find out Hazel is Rosie? Will they blame her for the disappearance of another toddler? Did Hazel have something to do with it? Will they find the missing girl?

This story is told from the perspective of a multitude of characters: Hazel, Laurel, Hillier – the police detective on the new disappearance case, Max – a journalist/writer also staying at the hotel, and Joanna – Kirstie’s aunt who has been campaigning against Laurel’s release from prison, since she came up for parole the first time, ten years ago.

…law has nothing to do with the truth.

I enjoyed hearing everyone’s view point, and felt this gave the story more weight. We heard the different sides to each bit of the story and there were different emotions being shown, depending on who we were hearing from at the time. Each character was so very well written, that I could distinguish between them easily.

Hazel is a complex character, one which we feel sorry for, and also wary of at the same time. Do we empathise with her plight of being the sister of the notorious Laurel Bowman, the child murderer? Or do we treat her with caution, that she was involved in the torture of a child. Hazel has always protested her innocence. Even now, she can’t remember all the details of that fateful day.

This story fills you with tension. It discusses the debate between being born evil or learning it. Are children evil? It explores the age of criminal responsibility. And while it doesn’t go into gory details about the 1997 crime, it lets you fill in the blanks for yourself, which in a way is worse. You conjure up images of past stories like it. Of other past crimes involving children, especially little Jamie Bulger. 

…thinking about those two little girls, those sisters, who seem so pitched at opposite ends on the spectrum of good and evil.

It is fast paced, switching back and forth between 1997 and now. As the book progresses we learn little bits here and there about what happened that day, and who each of the characters really are. When the new disappearance case closes so early on in the book, I was a bit taken aback as to where the book was now going. But the story was so well crafted that I didn’t have to wait long to see.

I would recommend this to crime and fiction fans, but not for the faint hearted.

Happy Reading!

Becca x

The Flower Girls – Alice Clark-Platts