Fiction

Stranded by Sarah Goodwin

About the book

Eight strangers. One island. A secret you’d kill to keep.

When eight people arrive on the beautiful but remote Buidseach Island, they are ready for the challenge of a lifetime: to live alone for one year.

Eighteen months later, a woman is found in an isolated fishing village. She’s desperate to explain what happened to her. How the group fractured and friends became enemies. How they did what they must to survive until the boat came to collect them; how things turned deadly when the boat didn’t come.

But first she must come to terms with the devastating secret that left them stranded, and her own role in the events that saw eight arrive and only three leave…

What I thought

This has to be one of the most intense, disturbing, chilling books I think I’ve ever read. I rarely dream, or at least I don’t remember them anyway, but with this book I dreamt about it one night, and found myself waking every morning with thoughts immediately turning to Maddy and wondering what will happen to her next. It is that compelling, all consuming.

The setting for the story is a remote, deserted Island off the coast of Scotland. A TV company want to run a year long reality TV show featuring a set of 8 strangers, 4 women, 4 men who must survive life on the Island, being self sufficient and living off the land and sea surrounding the island. They are allowed to bring with them a small amount of personal belongings but must build their own shelter and find their own food once they are dropped off.

The story is told in the first person by Maddy, one of the group, and it is Maddy who the reader spends the whole of the book with, living her experience, living her isolation, and eventually living her terror. And you will live it, to such an extent you will almost feel like you are there on the island with her, such is the intensity of the narrative.

At times, it will seem a little slow as Maddy goes into great detail of her foraging, her vast knowledge of mushrooms, vegetation and wild plants, and the lay of the land but none of this is irrelevant, you as the reader will need to listen and to live every detail with Maddy. It’s something of a slow burner, but the tension is always there simmering in the background, waiting to shock! The participants in this ‘human study’ have been carefully picked, and they don’t get on too well.

The research that must have gone into this book is huge. The botanical knowledge, the psychology of group dynamics, persuasion and influence. It’s a story of the darker side of human behaviour in desperate circumstances. I found it all very believable right the way through.

For a debut novel this is an amazing, dark thriller that will keep you wanting to read on, even if you’d rather turn away. I thought there were some really shocking things happened in it, leaving the reader in a state of dread and high alert for a good part of the book. I can’t recommend it highly enough, though to be honest I’m quite glad I’ve finished it as I’ll at least be able to sleep in peace. I certainly won’t be taking part in any reality TV shows that’s for sure.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

♥ Happy Reading ♥


Thank you to the publisher Avon Books for an advance review copy of this book via Netgalley.

The book publishes today 16 September and is available in e-book, audio and paperback from Amazon and other retailers.

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