Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Samantha Hayes for the chance to read and review this book.
Loving husband? Or total stranger?
When Ella wakes up in a hospital following a hit-and-run incident, she is scared and confused. Close to tears, her eyes fall on a get-well-soon card on the window sill and the nurse reassures her that her loving husband will be back soon.
But Ella has never been married.
In fact, she has lived alone her whole adult life: working hard, rarely socialising, quietly harbouring a terrible secret from her past.
Fear sweeps through Ella when she instantly recognises the man who enters the ward. He is not her husband, but she knows she must do as he says and play the part of the dutiful wife. What choice does she have? He was there the night of the fire, he knows her secret too…
Do you absolutely love twisty and unputdownable psychological thrillers like ‘Girl on The Train’, ‘The Wife Between Us’ and ‘Gone Girl’? Then you will be totally hooked by this jaw-dropping about the dangerous secrets behind a perfect marriage.
Ella Sinclair is a loner who enjoys the routine of her life: Work, home, sleep. Work, home, sleep. She doesn’t date, doesn’t really socialise and prefers to live that way because of a dark secret from many years ago. While cycling home from work on a rainy night, she is hit by a van and wakes up in hospital. She has suffered serious injury but is reassured by the nurse that her husband has barely left her side the whole time. There is just one problem; she has never been married. Instantly recognising her ‘husband’ Jacob as someone from her past that she hoped she’d never see again, Ella knows she must do as he says and go along with the charade or risk devastating consequences. These opening chapters were riveting and full of terror and disbelief as you fear for Ella having to go home with this sinister character, knowing the hell that no doubt awaits her and hoping she manages to escape his clutches before she suffers too greatly. As she is made a prisoner in his home and becomes increasingly reliant on him not only physically but practically and financially, her chances of freedom seem totally hopeless.
Wow! This was one of the most intense, addictive and harrowing psychological thrillers I’ve read not just this year but in a long time. I devoured this book in less than 24 hours, something I’ve not done in quite a while, but it was just impossible for me to put it down. The suspense, foreboding, dread, desperation and sheer helplessness are all there on every page and create an atmosphere that has your heart pounding. Each time you think Ella is going to either save herself or be rescued everything falls apart and she’s back to having no way out. I honestly had many moments in this story where I doubted a good ending for her but I needed to get to the end and find out.
Our villain, Jacob, is honestly the most malevolent and vile example of a husband I’ve read. He is a sociopath who has planned his imprisonment of Ella to the last detail, making her chances of escape all the more hopeless by the minute. The level of delusion he has and the extremes he goes to in his quest to have this life he’s built for them in his head is astounding and frightening. He is well written and very believable.
As a survivor of abuse I could see myself in the situations Ella was in and believe that she was too scared to not go with him or ask for help and that others fell for his charms and believed him to be the dutiful and doting husband. The author has completely captured the dark truths of an abusive relationship and controlling partner. Thankfully security systems weren’t really available to most people back when I was in that kind of relationship as having that made him omnipotent and she was without a moment really alone. I thought the author used a fantastic analogy about why people don’t leave abusive relationships and there were many quotes that struck a chord with me on a deep and personal level.
The ending of the book was jaw-dropping. I never saw it coming and still can’t believe what I read. A few books I have read this year have had endings that I say I didn’t expect but this one was on a whole other level. I am still blown away by it and love that the author wrote the book so incredibly well that it surprises you in such a huge way. I was already a fan of Samantha Hayes after reading her book The Reunion in the summer but this has put her on my list of must-read authors. If you love psychological thrillers and gripping stories then this book is for you. Just make sure you’ve got a clear schedule as you’ll not want to put it down.
I’ll finish this review with what is my favourite quote from this book, a line that sums up abusive relationships perfectly: “Freeing herself is going to take something way more complicated that simply escaping”.
Out November 22nd