Stone Mothers...is an intense, irresistible novel of psychological suspense ... The women we follow are vastly different, fully-formed, and real. We feel deeply for each of them in their pain, fear, and horror. Nobody is wholly victim or monster, and the lines between guilt and mental illness are often murky ... As always, Kelly’s prose is emotionally resonant and cinematically descriptive. So many of her turns of phrase are imbued with the haunting weight of an elegy, the sense that a ghost or scene of disturbing madness lurks around the next corner. She never shies away from the genuine horror inherent to the situations her characters are thrust into or the choices they choose to make, yet she never sacrifices poetry for shock value or caricature.
... this gothic-inspired thriller...languishes in over-plotting ... The flashbacks of Helen are the most gripping as it reveals why she shut the mental hospital and why she is trying to change the outdated and cruel 'lunacy laws' that allowed her parents to put her in an asylum when she was a rebellious teenager. But neither Marianne nor Jesse are interesting enough to sustain their stories. That former hospital renamed Park Royal Manor is hardly threatening. The dense plot of Stone Mothers offers few surprises, dull-edged twists and uninspired characters.
Kelly’s latest...is a fast-paced, thrilling, and extremely clever novel ... Full of blackmail and lies, this novel grows in intensity as each character’s story is told. Utterly engaging, terrifying, and unputdownable, this novel will haunt readers and have them wanting more from Kelly.
Unfortunately, Kelly’s main characters never transcend serviceable. The most moving aspect of the novel is the glimpses it offers, largely through flashbacks from Helen, of the horrors inflicted on heartbreakingly vulnerable patients in the name of mental health. Still, fans of plot-propelled thrillers will be satisfied.