I had seen a lot of buzz on bookstagram about this novel at the start of the year, so in April I was excited to be approved for an arc copy and eager to read the book for myself. Six months later I’m delighted to be taking part in the Instagram blog tour for the paperback release of this riveting thriller.
Thank you to Millie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.
‘Literary suspense as dark and fresh as midnight in winter, with a merciless twist-of-the-knife finale. One of the most striking debuts I’ve read in years.’ – A. J. Finn
In this compulsive, twist-filled and haunting psychological suspense debut, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played the night her life changed forever…
Don’t trust him. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been me.
Meet Evie, a young woman who has fled with her uncle to the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding her to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. Something Evie can’t remember.
But Evie isn’t her real name. And Jim isn’t really her uncle.
In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie pieces together the events that led her here. And as her memories return she starts to wonder if Jim is really her saviour …or her captor.
A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind. Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth even from ourselves.
The book is narrated by Evie and is split into “before” and “after” the night that she did something terrible. We have no idea what she did, or in fact if she actually did it, and that made the book very confusing for me at first. I found it hard to follow what was happening and it was hindering my enjoyment, but I never give up on a book before I’m a quarter of the way through and I was intrigued by the plot. Soon the story began to flow more smoothly and I was completely hooked and immersed in Evie’s situation.
“He’s trapped me in the nineties.”
The book starts with Kate, who is now going by Evie to hide her identity, having her head shaved by a man she says she once loved. She’d tried to run from the house in the secluded beach town that he’s brought her to but he found her and reminds her that “they” are looking for her and she isn’t safe. She’s skinny and he gives her juices with a powder he tells her will help her gain weight. He also takes her to the doctor and she’s prescribed antidepressants but the man, who she decides to call Jim, refuses the doctor’s suggestion that she see a psychologist. He tells her he’s helping her heal mentally and she doesn’t need to see anyone else.
When Evie begins to tell us the story of before the incident she begins by taking us back to her first memory: at five years old her Nanny left her alone in the bath for a few moments and she poured scalding water onto herself, scarring her for life. Not long after her mother died and her father retired from his professional rugby career to work in finance and raise her himself.
Back in the present Evie is starting to remember little bits about that night: drinking, the mysterious ‘him’ lying face down with blood spreading under his head and herself in the car. She’s afraid to remember more even though she is sure she didn’t do anything bad, that it had to be Jim and he’s lying to her. She writes letters that Jim sends back to Melbourne which are full of confusion and fear as Evie talks vaguely about what happened and tries to grapple with what the truth is of that inauspicious night. She is determined to escape as she becomes increasingly sure that Jim is lying to her and holding her captive rather than protecting her. But who can she trust? And when she sees what’s being written about her online she is once again unsure where to turn and what’s real.
As the book goes on we learn more about Evie’s life growing up in Melbourne, her relationship with her dad, friendships and blossoming relationship with a boy named Thom. But we still don’t know much about that night or who Jim really is. I had my suspicions but I found they vacillated as the story went on.
“Sometimes if you bite into a joke you find a stone of truth at the centre.”
This was a strange book at times but highly addictive and I devoured it in one sitting. I needed to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, to know what Evie supposedly did, if she did it, if I was right about who Jim was, and if people were really after her. I wasn’t prepared for the shocking twists in this story or how the one I had guessed correctly would play out. I was completely blindsided. The complex plot and multifaceted characters are cleverly written and you are kept guessing until the final sentence.
Call Me Evie is a story about love, anger, fear, truth and lies. It makes you question the truth of your own memories and what reality is. A spectacular debut that I can see making a great movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and thrillers.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J P Pomare grew up on a horse-racing farm in small town New Zealand with his three older siblings and his father. He left for Melbourne where he developed his craft, entrenching himself in the Australian literary community. For almost two years he produced and hosted a podcast called On Writing, interviewing almost thirty local and international authors including Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, Dorthe Nors, E Lockheart, Chris Wormersley, and Sofie Laguna.
J P Pomare has been published in several journals including Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe, and Mascara Literary Review. He has also won, and been short and long listed for a number of prizes include the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Call Me Evie is his first novel.