I Dare You by Sam Carrington #BookReview #BlogTour

Mapledon, 1989

Two little girls were out playing. One dared the other to knock on a neighbour’s front door and run away. But this was a game that had deadly consequences – only one girl returned home that evening.

The ten-year-old told police what she saw: a man, village loner Bill ‘Creepy’ Cawley, dragged her friend into an old red pick-up truck and disappeared.

No body was found, but her testimony sent him to prison for murder.

An open and shut case, the right man behind bars.

A village that could sleep safe once again.


Anna thought she had left Mapledon and her nightmares behind, but a distraught phone call brings her back to face her past.

Thirty years ago, someone lied.

Thirty years ago, the man convicted wasn’t the only guilty party…

And now he’s out, he is looking for revenge. The question is, who will he start with?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for I Dare You today, many thanks to Sam Carrington and Sabah from Avon Books for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Young children have been playing knock and run away games for generations and for the most part it's just meant as a harmless prank but in I Dare You, the cruel singling out of one particular villager for an almost constant barrage of Knock Knock Ginger dares resulted in tragedy when one of the youngsters, ten-year-old Jonie disappeared one day. Her body was never found but the man they nicknamed Creepy Cawley was found guilty of her murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Thirty years later, Billy Cawley is released from prison and understandably, the village of Mapledon can talk of little else. Mapledon is one of those small places where not much seems to ever change; however, rather than imbuing the place with a charming sense of nostalgia, the overwhelming impression of the village is one of claustrophobia and oppression. It is a village in decline, with most of the younger generation moving away as soon as they are able but now two such women are inexorably drawn back there following the news that Cawley is out. Anna returns to her mother's house after a disturbing message is left pinned to her front door. It's clear that Anna and her mum don't have a close relationship but that doesn't fully explain why Anna has avoided returning to her childhood home for so long. Meanwhile, Lizzy is also back but at first it's not so obvious why she is there as she doesn't seem to remember much about the village.
The dual time frame of the novel takes readers back and forth between the present day and the events of 1989 around the time that Jonie went missing. She isn't a very pleasant child and is obviously a rather domineering ringleader amongst her group of friends but there is still a sad air of foreboding in the chapters featuring a young girl seemingly on the brink of her teenage years. Jonie isn't the only person to treat Billy badly and it gradually becomes evident that even the adults were perhaps guilty of shunning a bereaved and struggling young man. He was considered an outsider in a village where those with the loudest voices and most stringent opinions forced people to close ranks. Despite the terrible crime he was found guilty of, I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for him. Thirty years later and it seems like not much has changed but as Anna and Lizzie begin to look into what happened, they begin to uncover dark secrets which have been kept hidden for decades but who knows what and who can be trusted when somebody is leaving a series of macabre messages for Anna and her mum, Muriel.
The shadow of such a horrific event is bound to hang over a small place like Mapledon and the ripples of the tragedy continue to affect the families who lived there despite the passage of time. Several of the characters are forced to examine their memories of the time with the switching narrative providing extra hints as to what may have really happened. Sam Carrington cleverly implants seeds of doubt about several of those shocked by Cawley's release and what his freedom seems to have instigated.
The short chapters and pacy writing ensured I couldn't resist reading "just a little more" of this compelling mystery. There is a really sinister undertone to I Dare You and I was prepared to believe the worst about almost anybody, which inevitably meant I had some of my suspicions confirmed. However, I was still consistently surprised by the twists and turns and thought the linking of the past to the present was handled beautifully with an intriguing look at how the characters behaviour appears to change during the intervening years. The moment where the truth is finally revealed is a fantastically tense scene featuring a number of characters in a scene worthy of an Agatha Christie book. I Dare You is a creepy psychological thriller with superb characterisation and a terrific sense of place. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I Dare You is published by Avon Books, purchasing links can be found here.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist.