Title: The Hurting
Written by: Lucy van Smit
Cover and interior design by: Helen Crawford White
Published by: Chicken House
The Hurting is the compelling story of revenge and the desire for independence. This young adult Scandinavian noir thriller that will have you turning the pages to devour more. The protagonist Nell has a sister called Harper who has leukaemia. Nell is her main carer as their mother left and their father is an alcoholic. They have moved away from their home in Manchester to live in Norway, so Harper can go to the world centre for epigenetics in hope of being able to turn off the cancer gene causing her atypical leukaemia. At first, I was shocked at Harper’s behaviour and manipulation of her sister but on reflection I realised this really does reflect the reality of sibling relationships that many books fail to convey.
All the characters and their motivations are realistic. Nell always puts her sister’s needs before her own at the expense of applying to Brit school and realising her own dreams of becoming a singer, song-writer. Her life is on hold until her sister can miraculously get better. When she meets Lukas Svad, the adopted heir to a Norwegian oil fortune, she decides to take a chance and run away from her life just like her mother had, or so she thinks.
Lukas is able to manipulate Nell – just like her sister – using love as a weapon. In his grey-blue wolf skin coat he immortalises the dark and dangerous wolf-boy. Together they kidnap Ulv Pup and embark on a soul-wrenching adventure through the Norwegian mountains, stalked by wolves. The novel is full of lyrical prose and descriptions that evoke dramatic images of the Norwegian mountains and fjord backdrop in such a way the whole area takes on a menacing character of its own, foreshadowing the events to come. In the end, after many bad decisions, Nell learns the truth about Lukas, her mother and the baby.
Lucy van Smit’s debut novel is full of twists and turns fuelled by the need to feel loved.