Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth. Cold Light is an amazing book that takes readers for a dark ride. Primarily a mystery, Cold Light is also a psychological exploration into the minds and psyches of three British school girls.

Lola is friends with a much more popular girl, Chloe, who often gets in trouble. Lola, also known as Laura, has to clean up all of Chloe’s messes. Even though Lola knows she’s being played, she thinks it beats the
alternative–being thrown down the stairs and bullied by the other teenagers in her form.

Meanwhile another girl, Emma, is rallying to take Lola’s place as Chloe’s best friend. Chloe has already been distancing herself from Lola by spending time with an older man, her boyfriend, Carl.

Lola does not like Carl or Emma’s intrusions but what disturbs her most is what happens in the park on Boxing Day. Add to the mix, a flasher tormenting the community and a missing person who may or may not be the flasher. 

A novel about friendship, secrets, trust, betrayal, and misplaced loyalty. The novel surprises with many reversals. Those who appear guileless are actually crafty and those who seem sophisticated are actually naïve. The young girl at the center of the story, Lola, feels responsible for two deaths. In fact, she is not culpable for these deaths but is quite possibly responsible for the demise of two others. When asked what she wants to do for a science project, Lola responds without thinking too much about it, “Ice.”

Ice will play an important part in this story as will light. Lola’s father’s who displays early signs of dementia is enthralled by bioluminescent sea animals. Lola’s father suffers from the delusion that he is a scientific researcher and readies himself to go on a scientific expedition.  This is in a sense what Ashworth puts readers on–a scientific expedition to discover the truth of how Chloe died. Ashworth has written a surprising, heart-breaking, and thought-provoking novel.

If you like this novel, you may also enjoy Alex Marwood’s Wicked Girls.