One Of Us by Rachel McLean #BookReview #BlogBlitz

‘Leave, or die.’
Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.
Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.
But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?
And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?
One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog blitz for One Of Us by Rachel McLean today. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me and for my advance digital copy of the novel. 

They say bad things come in threes but that’s really not true for Rachel McLean’s books. I included her previous trilogy, the Division Bell series in my list of favourite books of 2018 and now with the conclusion of the Village trilogy, I can confirm that her name will be appearing again on 2019’s list.
Although some books in a series can be read as standalones, this is one of those occasions where I would really recommend reading the Village novels in order. Rachel McLean’s writing will always ensure anybody who does come to the books out of sync will still thoroughly enjoy what they read but to fully understand and appreciate her characters’ stories it really is better to do as the song advises and to start at the very beginning. 
The only problem with this is that it does make writing a review a little tricky as I really don’t want to give away anything about the plot of the series as a whole. Set shortly after the events in Sea of Lies which was predominantly about Sarah, Martin and her mum, Dawn, the focus of One Of Us falls once more on Jess, her brother, Ben and his wife, Ruth. I was particularly delighted to see Ruth given a larger role again as she was one of my favourite characters in Thicker Than Water. 
As before, the villagers are living in a former holiday village close to Filey after being displaced from their own homes following a catastrophic flood which destroyed much of the country. They all come from different areas of the UK but have formed a community in the village where Jess is the Steward of the council, a role which often causes her to have disagreements with Ben. Ruth is a former veterinary nurse but as the only villager to have any medical knowledge, has become the nearest thing they have to a doctor. As refugees they are at best tolerated by locals but they are sharply aware of the animosity felt by some towards them and how vulnerable they are. 
It is the clash between the two communities which underpins the storyline here. The villagers don’t feel safe or that they can trust the authorities. Although they were given homes, they have been left to fend for themselves; they are only allowed electricity for an hour a day, have no real income so grow their own food, with a strict ration system in place to distribute it fairly and don’t have access to those items most of us take for granted like paper or medicines. Meanwhile the residents of Filey begrudge them being given homes, especially as many are under-occupied. This comes to a head when an explosion there means there are families who need to be rehoused. When the villagers hear they are expected to house them, they are horrified and respond furiously to the suggestion. Their experiences with their near neighbours haven’t been positive and the events of the previous October when they last allowed outsiders to stay still weighs heavily on their minds.
However, they have little real say in the matter, even after a violent clash with a group of outsiders. Newcomers moving in triggers strong emotions in many of the characters, especially for those most affected by what happened in the autumn. In Thicker Than Water Ruth was one of the strongest, most resourceful members of the group but her experiences there continue to haunt her. As life in the village becomes threatened once more, it becomes increasingly obvious just how far she is slipping, especially in the sections of the book written from her viewpoint.
She isn’t the only character who continues to suffer from the aftermath of the past. Jess is still blamed for allowing the outsiders in before and Ben frequently uses what happened against her when they argue about what they should do about the order to house the new families. Meanwhile, Martin still isn’t accepted by much of the village. However, although much of the book is about how people are unable to move on from their traumatic experiences, Dawn is the refreshing antidote to that. She has become the strong woman I always suspected her to be. She now fulfils an important role in the community and I loved seeing her become so supportive to Sarah.
One Of Us is an exploration of how society fears outsiders and what is particularly interesting is how two separate groups of people are both considered to be the ones who don’t belong. On the one hand, the presence of the villagers is resented by the locals but in turn they object to being forced to accept new families from Filey against their wishes. 
This might be the end of the trilogy and without giving anything away, I thought it concludes perfectly - not everything is neatly wrapped up but there is the sense of change in the air. I’d be thrilled to revisit any of these characters in the future to see how they are doing but if this really is the last we’ll see of them then the exciting, sometimes shocking yet always thoughtful One Of Us is a superb send-off. I can’t wait to read more from this hugely talented author in the future. 

One Of Us can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US

Check out the hashtag #OneOfUs and follow @rararesources on Twitter for more posts by my fellow bloggers also taking part in this one day blog blitz.

About the Author

My name's Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.
What does that mean?
In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.
Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?
My books aim to fill that gap.
If you'd like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at I'll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I'll let you know when my books are on offer.
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