For fans of My Dark Vanessa and The Secret History, When We Were Silent is a propulsive, bold exploration of power, privilege, corruption and retribution.



“Utterly amazing… Powerful, moving, enraging.”
—Marian Keyes, internationally bestselling author of Rachel’s Holiday

“I LOVE a great literary psychological drama. I devoured this debut, a lovechild of Tana French and Patricia Highsmith that’s also totally original. Absolutely brilliant!”
—John Boyne, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and All the Broken Places

“Fiona McPhillips captures the claustrophobic nuance of teenage loyalties, lies and privilege on every page. A twisting, turning dive into a web of long-buried secretsWhen We Were Silent marks Fiona McPhillips as one to watch.”
—Jane Harper, New York Times bestselling author of Exiles

Gripping, intelligent, assured – and devastating.
—Catherine Ryan Howard, internationally bestselling author of The Trap

“With a dark and poetic pen, Fiona McPhillips snakes through the waters of a tony private school, peeling away secrets in tiny waves until they crash into a powerful ending. This book absolutely nails what it feels like to be young, female, powerless, and dead set on redemption. A wonderful, relevant, and beautifully written debut.”
—Julia Heaberlin, bestselling author of We Are All the Same in the Dark and Night Will Find You

“One of the most compelling books I’ve ever read. Fiona McPhillips has woven a story that is compulsive, tender and chilling in its familiarity. I was hooked all the way through, and had an enormously cathartic sob at the end!”
—Jessica Bull, author of Miss Austen Investigates

“A stunning debut – beautifully written, tender and poignant, but pulls no punches. A powerful, unforgettable read.”
—Andrea Mara, #1 internationally bestselling author of No One Saw a Thing

“Taut, compelling, powerful and devastatingly relevant. A sensational debut.”
—Louise O’Neill, internationally bestselling author of Asking For It

“I raced through this spellbinding, gripping thriller about scandal and secrets at a prestigious girls school. It’s gripping, shocking and enraging, a story of lost youth, redemption and the power of speaking out, and it’s so beautifully written.”
—Cressida McLaughlin, author of From Cornwall with Love

“A heart-pounding, gripping, fury-inducing, all-consuming emotional rollercoaster of a story.”
—Jennie Godfrey, Sunday Times bestselling author of The List of Suspicious Things

“I devoured Fiona’s book. . . Such achingly beautiful, lyrical writing. It’s no mean feat to develop a teenage character of such depth and complexity, and I was utterly enthralled by Lou’s journey. The prose was at once defiant, vulnerable and deeply compelling. I found myself holding my breath so many times and the slow burning rage of Lou’s voice gripped me throughout.”
—Natalie Chandler, author of What We Did

“Amazing and powerful. . . Brilliantly written, compelling and harrowing in equal parts. Absolutely loved it. You don’t want to miss it.”
—James Oswald, author of All that Lives

“An urgent and suspenseful read that asks important questions about consent, agency and complicity. It will keep you gripped.”
—Katie Bishop, author of The Girls of Summer

“Fiona McPhillips’ suspenseful debut is a taut, beautifully written exploration of the burden of guilt and grief and the scarring effects of misogyny, abuse, and long-buried pain. When We Were Silent, with its poetic prose and unsettling tension, strikes the perfect balance of discomfort, despair, and ultimately, hope.”
—Ashley Tate, author of Twenty-Seven Minutes

“If you enjoyed My Dark Vanessa, this is definitely one for your TBR. Phenomenally tense and very, very well written.”
—Elle Machray, author of Remember, Remember



Lou Manson is an outsider when she joins the final-year class at Highfield Manor, Dublin’s most exclusive private school. Beyond the granite pillars and the wrought-iron gates is a world of wealth, privilege and potential. But Highfield is also hiding a dark secret – and Lou is here to expose it.

When Lou befriends the beautiful and talented Shauna Power, her plans are thrown into turmoil. Speaking out against the school would mean betraying Shauna, and Lou soon discovers that the Highfield elite will go to any lengths to protect their own reputation…even when the consequences are fatal.

Thirty years later, Lou is called to testify in a new lawsuit against Highfield. But telling the truth means confronting her past – and there is one story she swore she’d never tell…


When We Were Silent is now available to request on NETGALLEY UK and NETGALLEY US. Netgalley is a website where you can request a free early copy of a book in return for a review.


When We Were Silent


Fiona McPhillips is an award-winning Irish journalist, author, and screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Manchester Review, Hobart and Barren Magazine, among others and she is an editor at The Forge literary magazine.

When We Were Silent, the runner-up for the 2021 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, is her debut novel. Fiona lives in Dublin with her three kids, two cats, and a dog.

Fiona is represented by Rachel Neely at Mushens Entertainment.

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