The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

trophy-childAbout the Book

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.


The Trophy Child by Paula Daly tells the story of one very complicated family. I will try and break it down for you. Karen and Noel are married. Karen has a son from a past relationship, Ewan and Noel has a daughter from his last marriage, Verity. Karen and Noel have a daughter together, Bronte. Some members of this family like each other which others totally dislike each other. From the beginning, it is evident that Karen is a bit of an overbearing mother. She puts all her attention on Bronte who she believes is very talented and intelligent.

Karen is a character who is easy to dislike. I maybe in the minority here but I didn’t dislike her enough to abandon her on a desert with no food or water. I mean, she is not the best mother but she could have been worse. She was overbearing and expected way too much from her kid. As the story progressed, I sympathized with her especially after the second mystery in the book. I feel like the other characters judged her a bit too harshly. I really didn’t like Noel. He seemed selfish and weak. Although he was one of the MCs, he felt more like a support character. I did like the detective in the story though. Joanne was different from the usual hard-core, no-nonsense detectives. As a matter of fact, readers are introduced to her during a blind date. She felt real and easily likeable.  I really can’t say much about the other characters because I feel like I  didn’t get to know them.

I have always seen other bloggers use this term, slow-burn. I have never used it to describe any book until now. This book is slow but it is not boring. The suspense builds slowly until everything falls apart. There were stories and mysteries with the main story. One of the main mysteries was sort of solved only for a bigger one to occur although in the end, they were all connected. I don’t know if there was much of a twist in the book. I didn’t have any OMG moments and the reveals didn’t feel shocking but that really wasn’t an issue. I would have wanted a different ending though. I just felt like a lot was left hanging. In addition, I didn’t like how two of the characters, one who I disliked and one who I liked, ended up together.

This book has many good reviews on goodreads but it wasn’t for me. I felt like it took me two years to get through it though it was just a week. The pacing was a bit slow for my liking. In addition, I didn’t like most of the characters especially Noel. However, if you like domestic noirs, a bit of mystery and books that can be described using fancy words like slow-burn (I hope that I am using it correctly) then I think that you will enjoy this one.

23 thoughts on “The Trophy Child by Paula Daly

    1. Thank you. I also tend to go for fast-paced thrillers. This one was okay but a bit slow for me. However, so many people seem to like it so don’t dismiss it yet:-)

    1. Give it a try someday, maybe you will like it. I usually struggle with slow paces so that is why I didn’t like it as much but I think I am in the minority since most readers have given it high praise 🙂

  1. “using fancy words like slow-burn” hahaha that made me laugh. I wasn’t as satisfied as I would’ve wanted with the author’s last book and after your review, I think I’m going to pass this one, too. I want to be surprised 😛

    1. haha slow-burn is so fancy and almost poetic lol

      I was surprised because the twists didn’t shock me in this one. Other reviewers mention how good it was though. Maybe I am becoming a bit better at making accurate prediction like you lol.

      I think the pace is what bothered me about this book because I prefer fast paced thrillers.

  2. Passing on this one! I love your honest review Diana and I have to say when I read that a story is a “slow burn” I usually take that to mean boring or dragged out so it sounds like it applies to this one. Sorry it wasn’t better for you.

    1. Unfortunately, the pace ruined it for me. I usually struggle with slow paces and this one was like that. I feel like readers who don’t mind the pace will enjoy it more though but yeah, it was dragged out.

      Thanks Renee 🙂

  3. I wasn’t even familiar with the genre of domestic noirs until reading your review here. It sounds like this wouldn’t be a book for me either. I can enjoy a slow burn, but for the loose ends not to be tied up at the end would greatly bother me.

    1. This book really has me confused even thinking about it now. I think that the loose ends may have been tied up but maybe I just wasn’t satisfied with how it was done. To me, it felt like something was still missing like I needed to understand the villain’s motives but I didn’t.

      Yeah domestic noir is a sub-genre of thrillers/crime-fiction 🙂

  4. You do like the word “slow-burn”, right? Haha! I like the sound of this book but slow often means boring for me. I noticed I need a thrill, tension, to stay captivated, and only a few slow-burners have convinced me. Great review!

    1. haha its such a fun word. I need to start using it in regular conversation. I can imagine talking to my co-worker and saying something like…that meeting was a slow-burn lol. That sounds wrong 🙂

      I usually like fast-paces and have only enjoyed a few slow books hence my struggle with this one.Thank you.

  5. I did enjoy this book but I agree, Noel wasn’t my kind of man and he definitely could have done with a bit of oomph – I do like alternating books which are fast and furious with those that build more slowly.

    1. I tend to struggle with slow paces because I get distracted easily. I did like the story-line in this one and the fact that it had two mysteries. I just wish the pace was a little bit different.

  6. Great review! I haven’t tried this one, but judging from your views I don’t think it would be for me either… Slow-burners tend to be a hit or miss for me.

  7. It’s a bummer when something feels like it’s taking way longer than it actually is to read. For me I have trouble finishing something like that. Sometimes I don’t! I appreciate your honest review!

    1. Thanks Laila. The pacing of this one was definitely an issue for me. However, I was curious to know how the mysteries will get solved so I guess that is what kept me going until the end 🙂

  8. With all the talk about getting a kid into a good pre-school so they can get into a good prep school and a good high school and a good college, etc. I’m not surprised parents are insane about preparing their children with 200% effort. Play days, extracurricular activities, test prep. It all sounds exhausting. I’ve seen the results of such parents when I taught at the University of Notre Dame. Kids come in at 17 years old with the academic skills of a college senior and the emotional maturity of someone much younger because everything has been controlled for them, even a schedule. In college, we expect students to control themselves. It can lead to a lot of stressful situations. Frequently, we get emails that state such-and-such student suddenly passed away…but I wonder if they actually passed away or took his/her own life.

    1. I agree with you. It can lead to stressful situations.

      In Kenya, we have a national exam that determines the high school that one can get into and another national exam at the end of high school whereby you have to score B to A to qualify for Uni. Candidates for the two exams are stressed with the preparations. Hours of extra tuition/transnighting(reading day and night) even during the holidays to ensure that they get into a good high school and then Uni.

      Cases of candidates committing suicide when they fail to pass national exams are too many. Some parents sort of give up(disown) their kids if they fail these tests. Too much pressure on kids.

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