Monday, 8 December 2014

The Sham by Ellen Allen ~ Blog Tour Review

As a part of the The Sham by Ellen Allen Blog Tour run by YA Bound Book Tours I read and reviewed The Sham, a YA contemporary mystery thriller.

To check out the rest of this blog tour go here for the official schedule.

I was provided with a review copy of the book via Ya Bound Book Tours - however, all opinions expressed in this review are purely my own (to find out more, please visit my disclaimer page).

Book Details

Title: The Sham
Author: Ellen Allen 
Publication date: September 7th 2014 
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

Audience: On the author's own recommendation, this book is not suitable for younger readers. I recommend being 17+, as the book contains adult situations and language, as well as strong violence (murder scenes, etc.). 


'I can list fifteen, twenty ways that Jack isn't normal.

The way he can remember every single thing he learns. The way he seemingly hasn't had a past. There's no evidence that Jack exists. At all. And we've spent days, weeks, months trying to work out who he is, where he came from, how. But he's always holding something back, like I'm not enough of a grown-up to hear.

I swear I'm in love with a hallucination.'

Synopsis: When love leads to death, be careful who you trust…

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods.

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body. (x)

My thoughts on the book:

The Sham is a twisted labyrinth of signs, lies, and buried truths. 

From the very beginning I could tell that it was unlike any book I'd ever read. The Sham sets the reader up from the start to prepare for an ending that isn't all sunshine and rainbows...and to realise that there are no answers to be found in the present - rather we, the reader, must look for the answers in the past. 

Just like The Sham's main protagonist, Emily. 

The first sentence of chapter 2 grabbed my attention:
'I hadn't seen them coming, Dead Body and her friends.'
Referring to a certain character as 'Dead Body' is one of the many quirks of Emily Heath. Emily's voice/consciousness in this book is eerily loud and ever-present. Her eccentric descriptions and often awkward conversations help to flesh her out as a character. 

What stands out about The Sham is its eccentric undertones - seen mainly through the unique descriptions.
'Blood is seeping from his nose, which reminds me of something Mum's new husband Stevie once said, how his family's jam factory was bombed in the war. How the house down the road were smeared in jelly, dead bodies covered in marmalade, everything buried in strawberry jam.'
(Needless to say I won't be looking at jam the same way again!)

The Sham requires you to be open-minded and patient.

I will admit - I did have a bit of trouble getting into this story at first. I think the main contributor to this was Jack, and his riddle-esque way of talking. I wanted straight answers as much as Emily did! 

It's always hard to accustom your mind to such a different style of writing from what you normally read. It's not at all a reflection on the book - which was honestly intriguing, and brilliantly written.

But once you do adjust your way of thinking/'s totally worth it!
I found myself getting more and more drawn into the story's underlying mystery, searching for 'suspects', and trying to piece the clues together. I was cheering Emily on as she got all 'Nancy Drew', searching around the town. 

This book also has a special brand of humour.

What I really liked about this book was how the humour and romance elements didn't overpower or take away from the main plot. And when I did come across them, it was a nice change from all the horror:
'"I might ask a lot of questions, but you don't ask any."  
"What should I be asking?" he said. 
"Whatever you want." 
He nodded, processing. Finally, he asked, "Do you have a boyfriend?"
"That's your first question?" I said. 
He was amused to see me squirm.'
Warning: this book is not for the faint of heart!

There is lots of blood. And horror. And murder. So...basically, if you're the kind of person who can't handle Halloween, American Horror Story, and/or animal cruelty, I don't think this is the book for you.

But, if you're a mystery/thriller genre-lover, I recommend giving The Sham a read.

Have you read The Sham, or do you plan to? Let me know below!

**A big thank you to Ellen Allen & YA Bound Book Tours for giving me the chance to read & review this book**   


  1. I just wanted to say a very big thank you for taking the time to review my book and thanks for being such a great tour host! Regards, Ellen

    1. It was a pleasure! Thank you so much for the opportunity :)


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