OPN When We Were Silent

In her suspenseful debut novel, "When We Were Silent," Fiona McPhillips delivers a masterful tale that peels back the layers of privilege and secrecy within the walls of Highfield Manor, Dublin's most exclusive private school.

This riveting story navigates the treacherous waters of youth, power, and retribution, offering readers an unputdownable journey through past and present scandals.

Louise Manson, the protagonist, enters Highfield Manor as the newest student, immediately feeling out of place due to her working-class background. The school's granite walls, high-arched alcoves, and oak-lined library hide more than just academic excellence—they conceal a dark secret that Lou is determined to uncover.

As she navigates her new environment, she is unexpectedly befriended by some of her wealthy classmates. However, her quest to reveal the truth ends in tragedy, with a lifeless body at her feet.

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What truly happened at the school?

Fast forward thirty years, and Lou receives a call that brings her back to the nightmare she thought she had left behind. A high-profile lawyer is pursuing a lawsuit against Highfield Manor and needs Lou to testify.

This shocking turn of events forces her to confront her past and unravel the mystery of what truly happened at the school.

McPhillips' storytelling prowess shines as she seamlessly intertwines the past and present, creating a compelling narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Her vivid descriptions bring Highfield Manor to life, making the school almost a character in its own right.

The exploration of exploitation and privilege adds a significant depth to the novel, transforming it from a simple thriller into a poignant social commentary.

Powerful social drama

The novel excels in capturing the essence of being young, female, and powerless, while also being fiercely determined to seek justice. McPhillips' characters are well-developed, with Louise Manson standing out as a particularly relatable and strong protagonist.

The legal drama that unfolds in the present day is intricately connected to the secrets of the past, ensuring that readers remain engrossed until the very last page.

"When We Were Silent" is a remarkable debut that showcases Fiona McPhillips as a promising new voice in the genre. Her ability to blend mystery with social critique makes this novel a standout, and the suspenseful twists and turns will leave readers eagerly awaiting her next work.

In conclusion, "When We Were Silent" is a gripping and thought-provoking read that delves deep into the consequences of unchecked power and the lengths people will go to protect their secrets.

Fiona McPhillips has crafted a powerful story that is both thrilling and reflective, making it a must-read for fans of suspense and social drama alike.

Ahmad Nazir is a UAE based freelance writer