Published by HQ Digital
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, HQ Digital, and the author via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Jacob Reese has an idyllic life, he lives with his rescue dog Murphy who is his everything, rents out a little one bedroom cabin in his small slice of heaven to upscale holiday makers and owns and runs a successful coffee shop in his hometown of The Hollows. Things are good, that is, until he accepts a booking to his cabin for a guest who has left no previous reviews for any other rentals on the website he leases through. Things are okay when she arrives, though she has a startling resemblance to someone in Jacob’s past who he would rather forget. When she leaves, however, things become strange. Her resemblance to an old girlfriend freaks him out, but it’s the jewelry box left behind engraved with his ex-girlfriend’s initials, along with the fact that he is now seeing her everywhere he goes. This wouldn’t be so bad except, Laura is dead, and Jacob is the only one who knows. Someone knows Jacob’s secret, and he needs to find out who, before it’s too late.
When I first started this book, I honestly thought I wasn’t going to like it. I found the author’s voice to be a bit stilted and kept getting jolted out of the narrative from the lack of flow. However, before I knew it, I was 50% through the book, and I’d only started it that morning, AND I was also working all day.
There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot happening in the story, but it moves at a really quick pace and really keeps you guessing. I first found Jacob to come across quite bland, but by about half way through I honestly thought to myself “I like this character”. He was just a normal guy, who had made some bad decisions when he was young and dumb and didn’t know any better. Yes there was one decision he made that was the King of bad decisions, but I honestly still didn’t hate him.
The narrative is told through the present day (obviously) but there is almost like movie-esque changes in “scene” where Jacob is doing something which sparks a memory of what happened years ago between him and Laura or a part of his past which is relevant to what is happening in the present day. I found it odd at first, but I ended up really liking the way that Frech transitioned between these time periods without doing it via alternating chapters, super clever.
As said above, I really liked the character of Jacob, I love a flawed character, and he is full of them, he does his best to be the best person he can be in the here and now, I feel like he’ll forever be trying to atone for the shitty choices he made when he was in college. But you can see he really grew from the person we learn that he was, and he’s trying to keep his head down and make a nice little life for himself. I think it really goes to show that you can’t judge someone from their past. We all make mistakes, some we wish we could take back and wish we could forget, but we all learn from our mistakes, it’s how we grow and evolve. Even after learning the truth behind what happened to Laura, I still couldn’t hate Jacob, I just felt sorry for the guy and it endeared him to me even more.
We meet other characters, obviously Murphy is the most prominent, I love that we even get told the story behind how Jacob rescued Murphy, it’s so heartwarming and it really added another dimension to Jacob’s character I feel. The most prominent character besides these two is Sandy, Jacob’s manager at his coffee shop, I found her to be bubbly and fun, and I would have loved to see more from her, but she was only a secondary character, so I get it. We obviously meet a lot of other characters, and they were all well written as supporting characters, the one’s we are meant to focus on are Jacob and Laura, and I feel that Frech’s writing has really done that.
The mystery really kept me guessing, and we don’t have to wait the whole book to find out what happened to Laura, but we do have to wait the whole book (just about) to find out what the go is with everything that’s going on. I worked it out just as Jacob did, so that’s a massive plus, you’re finding everything out as the character does. I always enjoy this.
I found the story to be incredibly well thought out and executed. The whole thing, from Jacob’s college days up until the end. I will admit, I was kinda hoping we’d get to see a little bit further into the future than where the book stopped, but I just really wanted to know what happened after, and sometimes this is better left to the imagination of the reader.
The setting of The Hollows was fantastic and I wish I could visit! It sounded amazing, I just wanted to rent Jacob’s little one bedroom cottage and see what the town has to offer. It was all so well written and described without being over the top. There also was no info dumping, things are fed at a trickle which I found kept me enticed and made me want to keep reading.
All in all, this was a real page turner, and I love that I thought I was going to hate it in the beginning, it turned out being a five star read for me. If you love a good psychological thriller with flawed yet lovable characters, get onto it. You won’t be disappointed.
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