Emma Rous’ debut novel, The Au Pair, is a delightfully paced gothic tale ... Told in interweaving narratives of Seraphine’s present and Laura’s past, The Au Pair is a thrilling tale that plays on local folklore, hidden family histories and the small decisions that alter the trajectories of many lives. With vivid characters, a magical setting and a tightly knitted plot, The Au Pair is a splendid read that will be best enjoyed with a book club or a buddy, as you’ll be itching to digest the tale’s twists with someone else, especially when you reach the jaw-dropping climax.
The narration builds slowly and deliberately...This tale pulls its readers in from the very beginning, with many secrets and surprises; it is as delicious and spellbinding as a soap opera, complete with the dramatic moments and outrageous twists. A promising first novel from Rous, The Au Pair is an absolutely absorbing and scandalous page-turner.
The Au Pair is, without a doubt, a very well-written novel. Rous toys with her readers’ minds expertly, and her ability to juggle two perspectives over two timelines demonstrates a talent for pacing and big reveals. That said, I believe that whether or not you will love or hate this book depends very much on your willingness to suspend your disbelief at some of the most important twists ... In terms of sheer pleasure and thrill, The Au Pair is a very good read, and one that I would easily recommend to thriller lovers, but I would love to see Rous pare down her plot points in future works and focus more on one big reveal. Her wonderful characters and distinctive settings deserve it.
Rous’ debut novel is a whirlwind, twisting and turning with new revelations every few pages. Pinging between Seraphine’s search in the present and Laura’s experiences in the past, the reader is never entirely sure of what they know, as each chapter brings new information that may change previous certainties. The ambiance of Summerbourne and the family that inhabits it, from the folly to the gardens to the old gardener who speaks of fairies, adds that gothic touch to what might otherwise have been a generic family-mystery thriller ... A modern gothic suspense novel done right.
Atmospheric if muddled ... Rous ably interweaves accounts from dual narrators Seraphine and Laura to fan the suspense, but her plot-driven page-turner eventually founders after a few too many fantastic turns.