That hope may grow in even the murkiest corners is suggested also in Cate Sampson’s Splintered Light, a thriller aimed primarily at a young-adult readership. This is an intricate, ingenious novel, bringing together the stories of three British teenagers when they are sucked into the unsavoury world of adult criminality.
Their interweaving experiences, convincingly linked by Sampson, reveal aspects of contemporary life that are ugly and violent but through which it is necessary to pass if the future is to be faced with any degree of optimism. The novel’s strength lies not just in its compelling narrative but also in its encouraging the reader to consider such matters as the nature of innocence, guilt, revenge and retribution.
Reviewed in The Irish Times
Ooh! Splintered Light is super! I really enjoyed Carnaby, Cate Sampson’s first crime thriller for the YA market and I did wonder if she could produce a second story, along the same lines, that was as good but avoided being a repetition. And I’m sorry that I doubted. Splintered Light has a great many similarities with Carnaby but it’s really not like reading the same book all over again. Not at all. There is the same, page-turning, intricate plot. There is the same big-hearted concentration on characters struggling with the odds that are stacked against them. There’s still a crime to be solved. But this is a fresh story, where the unseen connections are the pivots for the plot, while in Carnaby we thought about an unreliable narrator.
We can guess whodunnit fairly early on. But to understand the hows and whys takes longer. As Sampson gradually reveals the connections and relationships between her characters and the events, we build up the big picture. It’s sad and seedy and violent but it isn’t entirely hopeless. Chunks of (splintered) light shine through the bleakness – the blossoming of adolescent love, the kindness of a kickboxing instructor, the chance of a job and some self respect.
Reviewed on The Bookbag
This remarkable novel grabs your attention from the first page and holds it through 41 chapters… The streets of London are full of threat. When it snows, there’s a reminder that cold can stifle and kill. The sinking sands of Morecombe Bay, where the novel reaches its dramatic conclusion, are a metaphor for how life can drag you down. Yet, for all its tough content, there’s plenty of hope in this story. Sampson shows that people can be decent and honourable and need not be trapped by the circumstances in which they were born.
Reviewed on We Love This Book