Published by Scarlet (13th October 2020)
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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Penzler Publishers Scarlet, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.5
Isabel Dryland is an artist with a troubled past. She has lasting damage from an accident that happened when she was a teenager, the problem is, she’s never been able to remember what happened or why. Some days are good, others not so much, change is hard for her but she tries her best. So when her husband suggests they move to the country side, she has reservations. When he has his heart set on a particular house, she agrees to go and view it, once she realises how much her husband loves it, she can’t bear to say no. So they pack up their city lives, and move to the quiet countryside. At first it’s okay, but then Isabel starts experiencing unnerving things. She feels like she’s being watched. and begins to discover secrets about their new house that are incredibly unsettling. Like a dog with a bone, she can’t let it rest until she finds out the truth of what happened there, but will she be able to handle what she uncovers? And is the treat she feels she is experiencing real, or a fear based on lost memories?
The premise of this story interested me greatly. A psychological thriller where the protagonist can’t remember her accident? Sign. Me. Up. This one turned out being a little odd though, and I honestly can’t say why. It had that psychological thriller feel, but it also felt like a crime novel in a sense, even though Isabel is not a detective or police officer or anything of the sort, she’s a victim of an accident that she can’t remember, which in turn I felt like made her an unreliable narrator.
When her and her husband move, she’s not happy about it. After her accident, one of the problems that she has is dealing with change and trying to adapt to new places which is fair enough. However, through her love to her husband she agrees to move as he has his heart set on the house that they’ve viewed. Isabel had an unsettling feeling that she’s been there before, and some of the rooms are making her uneasy. Along with the feeling of being watched, of strangers walking up the laneway looking in on her when she’s outside. But the narration give the feel of “is it really happening? Or is it just her imagination?” hence the unreliable narrator feel. I knew which way I felt about it the whole time, and I ended up being right in my assumption without any shadow of a doubt, so I feel like steps could have been taken to make it a little harder to work out which way the story was going to go.
The story is written in alternating chapters between Isabel in the present day and the culprit in 2004. I will admit, I didn’t quite know who our 2004 character was until almost the reveal, I had an inkling about them when we’re first introduced, and there’s one line in the narration of the culprit that really gave them away, I felt.
The mystery was interesting, though it didn’t feel so much a mystery because we were reading dual timelines which sort of covered everything. I’m trying to be as vague as possible because I don’t want to give anything away, so I apologise if it’s confusing hahaha. I felt like the pace was a lagging a little in places and not as suspenseful as I would have liked it to be, though Cameron did a good job of emitting the isolation that Isabel felt.
Even though the narrative was descriptive, I felt like a lot of the time it was telling me rather than showing. I did however notice the difference between Isabel and the Culprit’s voice and think that it may have been written this way in order to convey Isabel’s though patterns and feelings that go hand in hand with the problems that she has had since her accident.
All in all, it wasn’t a bad book, just didn’t hit me the way I was hoping that it would. I don’t want to go into too much detail because I feel like not knowing is part of being able to enjoy this story. I have noticed that since I finished it a couple of days ago, it has been popping up in my mind a bit which I take as a sign of a decent book. Though it was different to what I was expecting, it had a story that kept me intrigued and needing to know what happened next. The ending was satisfying as well which is always a plus.
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