#psychologicalthriller #bookreview #amwriting
Date of Publication: 27th July 2018
Date of Review: 28th Jan 2019
You think you can trust the ones you love most.
But what if one secret could make you question everything?
Every day, a woman like Louise passes you in the street: elegant, confident, determined. But underneath, she’s struggling.
She doesn’t know her sister, Alice, has been scared of leaving the house since their mother died.
She doesn’t know when Alice babysits her little boy, Archie, he sometimes sees things he shouldn’t.
She doesn’t know Archie has a secret.
A secret that could send cracks through the heart of Louise’s carefully constructed life…
The Secret is an addictive ‘Domestic Noir’ style psychological thriller that delves into the toxic relationship between two sisters. Louise is a married career woman with an eight-year-old son, Archie. Alice is out of work and childless; she also suffers with ME and anxiety, and is scared to leave her home.
The story starts with a dual prologue: then and now. This is in first-person and from Archie’s perspective. What happened in the past, was witnessed by Archie, and it is this secret that fuels the narrative and keeps the pages turning.
Most of the story is narrated in first-person from Alice’s perspective, with some narration in third-person from Louise’s perspective. This dual narration adds to the ‘who’s telling the truth?’ element and allows a degree of empathy for Louise; although to be honest, she isn’t nice at all. Alice’s character is in first-person and this works really well, leaving the reader with no uncertain terms as to who the protagonist is. Alice suffers with ME and anxiety; I could feel the exhaustion and pain radiating throughout her body. Readers will be screaming at Alice and telling her to say ‘no’ to the demands of her bossy and overbearing sister. We learn early on that Alice’s health issues are linked to a previous relationship. I won’t say why this is as I don’t want to spoil things, but when she sees a stranger who looks similar to her ex, you start to question Alice’s sanity.
Alice’s nephew, Archie, is a wonderful character and really brings the story to life. Dealt a raw deal in life, with a mother and step-father who both put themselves and their own careers before their child, Archie finds solace in spending time with his Auntie Alice. This isn’t an easy relationship at first. Alice barely has enough energy to look after herself let alone stepping in to care for her sister’s child. But Louise is controlling and uses emotional blackmail, forcing Alice to agree to look after Archie. According to Louise, Archie has ADHD but when Alice starts to get to know him, and gives him the time and attention that is lacking at home, the pair bring out the best in each other, and Alice starts to questions whether this is true. Alice has had a horrendous past, and her health is at a point where it looks it is on a downward spiral with no way out. But whilst helping Archie, Alice unwittingly starts to turn a corner and she starts to integrate with the outside world.
Alice also starts to get to know one of her neighbours, Jenny. Jenny also has her own set of problems. But somebody doesn’t like Alice helping Jenny – or is it Archie they don’t like her helping? And just who is that guy who waves to Alice each morning from the tram, that reminds Alice of her ex?
True to its genre, the story is full of red-herrings. And just when you think you know what ‘The Secret’ is, think again! There’s yet another twist!
I really enjoyed reading this book. The things I will take away from this as a New Writer, are pacing of the narrative and how to drop seemingly inconsequential hints into the plot that only make sense once the twist is revealed.
Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book.
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