#BookReview – The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds (@amandareynoldsj @Wildfirebks)

WHAT HAPPENED TO JULIA BLAKE?

She was young and beautiful, married to a famous author. They were celebrating their anniversary at their stunning country estate. So why did Julia Blake walk out of her perfect life, apparently leaving no trace?

Seren, a junior reporter for the local paper, can’t believe her luck when she lands an exclusive with Julia’s husband, Max. But as Seren spends more time at the couple’s remote mansion, probing ever deeper into the case, dark questions await.

What was Julia really like, behind closed doors? Was her marriage to this brooding, secretive man as perfect as it seemed? And did she really mean to disappear that night – or was she murdered?

Published March 2019 (E-Book) / July 2019 (Paperback) by Wildfire Books (UK)  

~ Review ~ 

Having really enjoyed Amanda Reynold’s previous books, Close To Me and Lying To You, I couldn’t wait to get started on her latest release, The Hidden Wife. As always, I found myself engrossed in this author’s incredibly compelling writing almost immediately and I was pleasantly surprised by the different feel and mood of this book.

In her previous two books, Amanda Reynolds has used the unreliable narrator to great effect. The Hidden Wife switches things up though, and this time we are firmly on Seren’s side as she attempts to untangle the mystery of famous author, Max Blake’s beautiful and much younger wife while interviewing him for her local newspaper.

There are three main characters in this book – Seren, a somewhat naive and eager to please junior reporter driven by her own tragic loss, Max – a brooding, charming but weirdly creepy and manipulative author (kind of reminiscent of Edward Monkford in J.P Delaney’s The Girl Before in many ways). And Brooke House, Max’s sprawling and remote mansion which was so atmospheric and eerie, lending a gothic hint which I absolutely loved.

I flew through this book, but that doesn’t surprise me – it’s what I’ve come to expect from Amanda’s novels. She really knows how to hook the reader, throwing twists and turns skillfully to keep you on the edge of your seat. I adored the uncertainty cast over missing Julia – had she disappeared of her own accord, or was something more sinister really at play? Mixed with such a well depicted setting which sent chills down my spine, The Hidden Wife has all the ingredients of a fantastic psychological thriller and I loved every second of it.

(I read an advance e-copy courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

 

 

#BlogTour #BookReview – Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson

Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . . 

Published March 7th 2019 by Faber & Faber (UK)

This is the first book by Peter Swanson I’ve read, and so had no idea what to expect. I did however really like the sound of it. I’m so glad I did though and it most certainly won’t be the last.

Before She Knew Him tells the story of Hen, an artist with a history of mental health problems manifesting in over imagination, suspicion and obsession. When she and husband Lloyd move into a quiet suburb it’s a new start and a chance to put a difficult episode behind them. But when their new next door neighbours, Mira and Matthew, invite them to dinner and Hen spots an item she believes links Matthew to a violent murder, it looks like Hen may be spiralling into ill health again. With her history, no-one is prepared to believe her. Is Hen loosing her grip on reality or is she really living next door to a serial killer?

I absolutely loved the style of writing in this book … it’s very distinct, with chapters alternating between Hen and Matthew. The tone struck an incredibly sinister atmosphere and had me turning pages furiously as it was so engaging and compulsive.

I loved the sense of conflict Peter Swanson creates in the character of Hen. There’s a vulnerability and honesty that has the reader completely on her side, yet all the while there’s an uncertainty whether she is right or is indeed gripped by a psychotic episode. Matthew is a masterclass in cold, clever and creepy. My skin actually crawled at some points.

This is a dark and disturbing story, exploring the impact of domestic violence, sexual abuse and childhood abuse on an individuals mental health and personality. It is shocking in it’s believability – I could almost feel sorry at times where I most certainly shouldn’t have. As thrilling as this book is, it also gives the reader lots to think about.

The book ends with a great twist I really didn’t see coming – and as a seasoned psychological thriller reader I’m not often this taken in by a twist. Though it left me feeling as if I should have spotted it – it’s clever and completely believable. I raced through this book, I loved the creepy, sinister atmosphere and the conflict and uncertainty  it provoked. An excellent read, and an author I’ll be making sure I read a lot more of in the future.

I read a free copy of this book courtesy of the Publisher  

before she knew him bt

#BookReview – The Wife’s Shadow by Cath Weeks

From one of Elle magazine’s ‘authors to watch’ comes a twisty, suspenseful and emotionally fraught novel about how little we really know the person we marry. For fans of The Affair and Dr Foster.

Every woman has a secret…

Everyone admires Suzy and her doll’s house life. She has a gorgeous family, a beautiful home and a successful business. But Suzy hasn’t always been in control. In her past lies a shadowy tale of fear and instability – a life that she once ran away from, and has hidden from ever since.

When Suzy starts being followed, she fears that her past may finally be catching up on her. And when she finds herself unable to do what to her is the most important thing – keep her loved ones safe – she has to decide how far she’d be willing to go to win everything back.

Even if it means sacrificing everything she knows and loves..

Published in Ebook – September 2018/ Paperback- March 2019 by Little Brown (UK)

~ Review ~  

When I was invited to read The Wife’s Shadow on Netgalley I’ll admit to not knowing all that much about it. I was swayed by the gorgeous cover though and the premise of a perfect life being not quite as it seems. And actually, I was very pleasantly surprised, because The Wife’s Shadow ended up being quite different to how I expected it, but in a good way.

The book begins when Suzy starts to notice strange things linking to her childhood in a town many miles away – a packet of red cigarette papers, a leaflet for a local event and an old toy. All of them pretty mundane but incredibly significant to Suzy. Convinced someone is following her and trying to scare her, she sets off to find out what really happened all those years ago. But knowing the truth doesn’t bring Suzy peace of mind as she starts to feel she is loosing control of her life and sanity. Is it the ghosts of the past who are haunting Suzy or is there something more sinister at play in her present.

Right from the beginning, I was gripped by this book. I loved how an uneasy feeling was built as Suzy becomes increasingly confused by what’s happening. The decline of Suzy’s apparent mental stability is expertly done, as she transforms from  strong, controlled and assured to weak, anxious and uncertain. It’s all very subtle and leaves the reader wondering what’s really going on or is it all in Suzy’s mind?

I thought the flashbacks to her past were very good, slowly building a picture of a troubled childhood and an impending sense of doom that something awful is going to happen. Cath Weeks tackles the difficult topic of domestic violence, and the impact on children who witness it, sensitively. The glimpses of her childhood also allow the reader to understand Suzy’s actions and behavior in the present, making her easy to sympathise with, even while doubting her reliability.

The cover and the synopsis scream psychological thriller, and yes there is a strong element of suspense. But this book isn’t just about the big twists, it’s is also a strong character study, of a woman who’s suffered childhood trauma, manipulation, betrayal and is struggling to let go of her past. Suzy was a character I was really rooting for by the end. There’s a lot packed into this book, and I wondered how all the threads were going to tie together and I wasn’t disappointed when they did. If you like a more subtle psychological read with a strong lead character and complex layers, then I would recommend THE WIFE’S SHADOW without hesitation.

(I read an advance ebook edition courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

 

#BookReview – The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald

They said it was an accident. Her mother knows they’re lying. But the truth comes with a price…

A fast-paced and action packed psychological thriller that is full of twists and turns you won’t see coming. The Night Olivia Fell is the most gripping suspense mystery you’ll read this year.

IT’S EVERY PARENT’S WORST NIGHTMARE.

Abi Knight is startled awake in the middle of the night to a ringing phone and devastating news – her teenage daughter, Olivia, has been in a terrible accident.

Abi is told that Olivia slipped and fell from a bridge into the icy water below, and now she lies silent, dependent on life support.

But then Abi sees the angry bruises around Olivia’s wrists and learns that her sensible daughter is in fact three months pregnant . . .

WOULD YOU BELIEVE IT IF THEY TOLD YOU IT WAS AN ACCIDENT?

Published by HQ Stories (UK) February 2019 

~ Review ~

I started reading The Night Olivia Fell with high expectations. I’d read some fantastic reviews and the plot sounded right up my street. For anyone who follows my reviews, you may notice I’m a very emotional reader – I like a book that’s going to make me grin like a Cheshire cat or cry big fat ugly tears. This book seemed like it was made for me.

So maybe it was those high expectations that got in the way when I first started reading this book. It took me a while to get into, feeling a bit slow paced and not altogether gripping me. I think the main issue was that I just didn’t gel with main character, Abi, whose daughter Olivia is on life support waiting to give birth. She’s prickly, aggressive, and in the flashbacks to life before the accident, controlling and oppressive towards teen Olivia.

However, as I read on I started  to relate to her. Abi and I have a lot in common, and as a single parent I remember that feeling of wanting to prove your child can have every opportunity a child with two parents can have. As we learn more of her backstory, I could empathise and understand her, and her overwhelming fear of loosing those she loves.  And I really enjoyed watching her character develop, as she overcame her demons of both past and present.

The mystery of what happened to Olivia is tightly woven and while there’s clear suspects marked out, it really could have been any of them right up until the reveal. This is a complex mystery, wrapped up in secrets and lies, some designed to protect and others to destroy. At it’s heart is a young girl, Olivia, who tragically seems to be manipulated from all sides, yet remains a thoughtful, caring and optimistic young woman. Whereas I initially found Abi difficult, I loved hearing Olivia’s story in the flashback chapters leading up to that fateful night.

The final third of this book was excellent. I read it with held breath, tears streaming down my face so heavily I couldn’t see the page. All the emotion I missed at the begin is there in those final heartbreaking pages with some incredibly tender and moving writing searing my heart. I was glad I’d stuck with this book, it was well worth it in the end and I think this is a story that will stay with me for quite sometime, as well as serving as a reminder to appreciate my own teen daughter. This is a story that will  slowly creep under your skin and rip your heart out before putting it back together again.

(I read an advance ebook courtesy of the publisher and netgalley)

#BookReview – Friends like These by Sarah Alderson

We all know someone like Becca.

She has the job everyone wants, a designer wardrobe, a hot-shot lawyer boyfriend, holidays to exotic locations. And she flaunts her perfect life all over social media.

It drove her colleague Lizzie mad, but she couldn’t stop looking. They were never really friends – and yet Lizzie knew everything about her.

Or did she?

When chance, and a terrible mistake, pulls Lizzie back into Becca’s orbit years after they lost touch, she’ll realise that you can’t always believe what you see online… and that finding out the truth might be the worst thing you can do.

There’s no such thing as a perfect life. Only a perfect lie.

Published December 2018 by Mulholland Books (UK)

~ Review ~  

I absolutely love a creepy, crazy, twisted character and Friends Like These has two of them. This book was RIGHT up my street. I loved this book and was utterly gripped from beginning to end.

It starts with a 999 transcript, with no indication of who’s making the call. The book then backtracks five days and we discover the events that lead to that terrifying and frantic call. It’s kind of like you know how it will end, but the need to know just how and who really drives this book, making it such a compelling read.

We’ve all searched out someone on social media, just out of curiosity and to have a nosy into their lives – right? Lizzie can’t believe it when one drunken night she finally finds an ex-colleague, Becca, on Facebook. Keen to share her discovery with her friend, Flora, she sends her a message linking the page – along with a few bitchy comments. But the next morning, Lizzie realises she actually sent the message to Becca herself. And Becca isn’t happy about this at all.

Can. You. Imagine? I will NEVER send a Facebook message without triple checking again!

Lizzie’s mistake sets of a roller coaster of twists and turns, where nothing is ever as you expect. It’s impossible to know who you can trust, is Lizzie or Becca the crazy one? The gripping, twisty writing is peppered with subtle dark humour that also really appealed to me, along with a cautionary tale of the perils of social media.

I’m being purposefully vague because I don’t want to give anything away, which is making this a difficult review to write. I just want to tell you how great this book is – hopefully you’ll take my word for it. I read a lot of psychological thrillers and this one really stood out to me. It’s a little bit different, a gripping page turner and well worth a read! I loved it!

(I read an advance proof copy courtesy of The Amazon Vine Program and the Publisher)

#BookReview – The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

YOU’LL NEVER FORGET THE FLOWER GIRLS

The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose.

One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity.

Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing.

And The Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again…

Published January 2019 by Raven Books 

~ Review ~

I can’t remember how or when I heard about The Flower Girls, but it jumped straight into my pre-order basket. Months later when it eventually dropped through my letterbox, I abandoned all plans and snuggled down to read it.

“The Flower Girls” are sisters Laurel and Rosie – infamous for a brutal murder when only children themselves. While older sister Laurel has been in prison for many years, Rosie – only six years old at the time of the killing- has spent the last couple of decades living with a new identity and in fear that one day someone will work out who she actually is. And then, another child goes missing from the hotel she is staying at with her parents. A hotel where Rosie (now known as Hazel) is also on the guest list…

Wow, this was an unsettling and dark read. With the past and present eerily twisting and colliding, The Flower Girl’s had me engrossed. I flew through the pages, desperate to unravel the mystery of the missing girl in the present and just what had happened all those years ago to drive two seemingly innocent little girls to commit such an horrific act.

As expected, this is often an uncomfortable and disturbing book which challenges the reader to consider whether a person is shaped by their early experiences or are inherently bad. It prompts us to question whether someone who commits such an atrocious crime at such a young age can ever be rehabilitated and released back into the community. We see the impact on the victim’s family – grief, bitterness and an overwhelming need for justice and revenge. My mind whirred as I read this book, as I was forced to question, then question again.

Throughout the book, the author creates a chilling sense of unease with undercurrents of  suspicion and doubt. I never knew quite exactly what to believe or expect as I read The Flower Girls. With some shocking twists thrown in right at the end, this is a book with impact – it will shock and disturb, leaving you thinking about it long after you turn the last page. If I had one complaint, then it would be that I’d like to have known a little more about the sister’s early life and what made them the way they were … this bit felt a little glossed over and I would’ve liked to understand (if ever you could) them more. However, one complaint aside, I felt this was a smart, thought provoking and dark thriller which had me hooked from beginning to end. Recommended!

 

 

 

#BookReview – The Rumour by Lesley Kara

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back 

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed? 

Published December 2018 by Bantam Press (UK) 

~ Review ~

Lesley Kara’s debut novel, The Rumour, is immediately gripping. It’s one of those books which you start, and then when you next look up a huge chunk of both time and pages have flown by. This is down to both her incredibly catchy and easy writing style and her ability to create remarkably recognisable and relatable characters.

We’ve all been there … said a little more then we meant to, got caught up in a moment. But when Joanna finds herself involved in gossip about the rumours flying around her local community, she has no idea of the danger she will shortly be facing. I thought Joanna was portrayed perfectly and could relate to her feelings of isolation, wanting to fit in and unease with herself. I also thought the tense, simmering anger of the small town was perfectly captured,  as fingers started pointing and revenge is sought. I’ve lived in that small town kind of environment – I’ve seen how quickly rumours can spread, evolve and completely spiral out of control. Lesley Kara’s The Rumour is absolutely on point in that respect and completely believable.

I got completely caught up in this book, desperately wanting to know just who was the notorious child killer and wondered why they seemed so intent on singling out Joanna for her part in the gossip and speculation. Kara throws the reader off scent several times with red herrings, which kept me on my toes and glued to the pages. The first half of the book was excellent, I couldn’t put it down and it was heading towards five star read status. However, I guessed the big twist just before it came, which unfortunately for me dampened the impact a bit. And while I could’ve lived with this, I thought the ending became a little far fetched. Whereas I’d been completely convinced for the majority of the book, the ending just lacked quite as much credibility for me.

The Rumour is still a great read. The writing flows, keeps the reader engaged and the pages turn effortlessly. The themes of small town mentality, gossip, rumour and revenge are a fascinating and compelling combination. It’s a very solid debut and despite feeling some of the impact was lost at the end, I still enjoyed this book very much and will definitely look out for more from the author in the future.

*I read a free advance readers copy courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program and the publisher*

 

 

Book Review – The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (@Janecorryauthor @PenguinUKbooks #TheDeadEx #BookReview )

One man’s disappearance throws four women’s lives into chaos–and not all will survive. . .

Vicki works as an aromatherapist, healing her clients out of her home studio with her special blends of essential oils. She’s just finishing a session when the police arrive on her doorstep–her ex-husband David has gone missing. Vicki insists she last saw him years ago when they divorced, but the police clearly don’t believe her. And her memory’s hardly reliable–what if she didhave something to do with it?

Meanwhile, Scarlet and her mother Zelda are down on their luck, and at eight years old, Scarlet’s not old enough to know that the “game” her mother forces her to play is really just a twisted name for dealing drugs. Soon, Zelda is caught, and Scarlet is forced into years of foster care–an experience that will shape the rest of her life . . .

David’s new wife, Tanya, is the one who reported him missing, but what really happened on the night of David’s disappearance? And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself? The answer lies in the connection among these four women–and the one person they can’t escape. 

Published June 28th 2018 by Penguin UK  

~ Review ~

I absolutely loved Jane Corry’s previous novel, Blood Sisters (reviewed here) and was so looking forward to reading her 2018 release, The Dead Ex. But then life got in the way, reading unfortunately got pushed aside as I seemed to roll from one drama of my own to another and I didn’t get around to it. Well, aren’t I kicking myself now after finally picking it up this week? Once again, I was completely sucked in and held captive by Jane’s twisty, compulsive writing as I devoured this addictive book in a couple of days.

The Dead Ex begins with alternating chapters told from the perspective of Vicki, a reclusive, seemingly timid aromatherapist who definitely has something to hide in the present, and Scarlett, ten years previously, an eight year old child who’s caught up in her chaotic mother’s criminal activities. Both narrators where fascinating and gripping, but what really intrigued me was trying to work out just what connected the two of them together. There is absolutely no way I could have guessed, and loved the turn the book took!

There’s a LOT of theme’s running through this book – child neglect and family loyalty, Female relationships and bonds, a need for a sense of belonging, ambition, power, loss of identity…it goes on. Vicki is a fascinating character with so many layers that even by the end I’m not sure I’d seen them all. Jane Corry writes each aspect of her so convincingly, I completely believed in her. I also absolutely loved the references to aromatherapy oils and uses, which I find fascinating and felt really complimented the book.

I flew through this book, despite reading it over a couple of busy days, grabbing any moment I could to read a bit more. With fascinating and complex characters and a plot that left me second guessing at every turn, this is compulsive reading at it’s best. An absolute page turner that manages to surprise and shock over and over again.

(I read proof copy courtesy of the publishers and Netgally)

 

#BookReview – The Woman In The Window by A.J Finn (@Fictionpubteam)

the woman in the windowWhat did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself? 

Published 25th January 2018 by HarperCollins (UK)  

The Woman In The Window was put firmly my on my most anticipated reads list of 2018 list months ago, drawn in by both the synopsis and that atmospheric cover. And boy, when I picked it up last weekend I was not disappointed – right from the start I was gripped by this intensely addictive read, struggling to put it down and staying up way later than I should to finish it.

Agoraphobia sufferer Anna Fox hasn’t been out of her house for almost a year. Alone and reclusive, she fills her days with online activities, watching old thrillers and spying on her neighbours with only occasional and brief conversations with her husband and daughter who are no longer around.  But when new neighbours, the Russell’s, move into the house across from Anna, things begin to change. After Ethan and Jane Russell both call on Anna, she becomes convinced there’s something dark and dangerous going on within the family, lapping up hints of a controlling husband and domineering father. Then when she see’s something shocking through her window, she tries to help. But with no evidence of a crime, Anna has a fight on her hands to make herself believed, eventually even to convince her own fragile mind that she knows what she saw.

Immediately, Anna is a fascinating character – a former child psychologist now struggling with her own mental health, she is shrouded in mystery and doubt. What happened to make her this way? Why aren’t her husband and Daughter around anymore? How reliable is she? Or is everything just a figment of her disturbed imagination? I thought the author conveyed Anna’s fragility very, very well meaning I could feel her panic and sense the suffocating loneliness and despair she felt. I was torn between doubt at Anna’s reliability about what she saw – she drinks too much and double doses on the many pills she takes to control her crippling anxiety, and frustration and pity that no-one believed her and dismissed her as crazy.

The pacing of the book is perfect, with a tense and atmospheric prose drip feeding information about Anna’s past and creating an increasingly desperate need in me to know the truth. Even when I realised before one of the reveals what was going on, it didn’t matter, it still sent chills down my spine and had me turning pages at lightening speed.  And with plenty of other twists and turns, it managed to keep me guessing right until the end, continuing to surprise and shock me along the way.

The Woman In The Window is exactly the type of psychological thriller I love to read – twisty, intense, shocking, conflicting and utterly gripping, leaving me unable to look away.  A fantastic debut from A.J Finn – I’ll be sure to watch out for more from this author in the future – and a great start to this years thrillers. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be hearing a lot more about this book.

( I read an advance proof courtesy of the Amazon Vine Program)

 

#BookReview – Final Girls by Riley Sager

final girlsTen years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.
 
Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. 
 
That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished. 

Published July 2017 (HB), 25th January (PB) by Ebury (UK)  

Well, as far as psychological thrillers go, this one certainly has an original plot! We’ve all seen those teen horror movies, where from a group of friends, only one survives a horrific massacre. Riley Sager’s Final Girls takes this concept and adds a new twist, by revisiting Quincy, survivor of an horrific holiday cottage massacre years after her ordeal. She’s doing her best to put the past behind her – she’s avoided the media, has a successful career and a fantastic fiance. To all intents and purposes, she got it together and isn’t letting the past hold her back. But inside, she’s still struggling to come to terms with that awful night, and the guilt of being one of three “Final Girls” – a small group sharing a similar traumatic experience. But when fellow final girl, Lisa, is found dead in an apparent suicide and Sam, mysterious and enigmatic third sole survivor turns up apparently seeking support from Quincy, it would seem her ordeal isn’t quite over just yet.

I loved the concept of this book, and thought it started really well. Quincy is clearly just about holding it together and with most of that terrible night a blank, I was intrigued to know what had happened. When Lisa is killed and Sam shows up, the tension builds and it’s clear Sam isn’t exactly who she seems. There’s a creepy, unsettling feeling about her, and my hackles where raised where she was concerned right from the start.

I did feel the book dipped in pace and lost some tension a little after the first fifty pages, although the interspersing of flashbacks to Pine Cottage kept me interested enough to carry on and find out just what had happened all those years ago and how it was connected to the death of one of the other Final Girls. Then around the half way mark, boy did it pick up again! As I raced towards the dramatic climax, I was surprised by some twists I hadn’t seen coming, and even though I knew something was amiss, I hadn’t expected it to turn out as unexpectedly as it did.

I mostly thought the character of Quincy was very well written, and the turmoil, guilt and need to not be a victim came across convincingly. However, I didn’t connect with her as much as I felt I should have, possibly because the author lead the reader to question Quincy’s reliability as a character too, which unfortunately left me feeling slightly detached.

Overall, I thought this was a good read. A unique and fascinating plot, some unexpected twists and turns and enough tension and intrigue to keep me reading. Although I found the pace a little slow going at times, I was glad I kept reading and felt the second half of the book redeemed it, with me reading it in one breathless chunk. If you’re looking for a new twist on your psychological thrillers with a hint of horror, then this may be the book for you.

(I read an advance ecopy courtesy of the publishers and Netgalley)