She’s in your house. She controls your life. Now she’s going to destroy it.
A terrifying and timely new psychological thriller, from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Ice Twins.
She watches you constantly.
Newly divorced Jo is delighted to move into her best friend’s spare room almost rent-free. The high-tech luxury Camden flat is managed by a meticulous Home Assistant called Electra, that takes care of the heating, lights – and sometimes Jo even turns to her for company.
She knows all your secrets.
Until, late one night, Electra says one sentence that rips Jo’s fragile world in two. ‘I know what you did.’ And Jo is horrified. Because in her past she did do something terrible. Something unforgivable.
Now she wants to destroy you.
Only two other people in the whole world know Jo’s secret. And they would never tell anyone. Would they? As a fierce winter brings London to a standstill, Jo begins to understand that the Assistant on the shelf doesn’t just want to control Jo, it wants to destroy her.
This story has seeped into my psyche and given me the most bizarre dreams of technology terrorising my life since reading. I don’t have an Alexa, any smart meters or Home Assistants. And after this book, I have never been more thankful of that! Intriguing, suspenseful, creepy and unpredictable, The Assistant exposes and explores a very modern fear alongside ones that have been around for years.
Jo is a freelance journalist, recently divorced and living in her best friend Tabitha’s spare room. The Camden flat is the height of luxury and high-tech, filled with the latest Home Assistants who control everything from the temperature and lights, to answering your questions. Jo is alone most of the time so she’s started talking to one of the assistants, Electra, for company. But one night the assistants suddenly don’t seem so friendly, uttering the terrifying words – “I know what you did…I know your secret.” Jo is horrified because she does have a secret. One that only two others know. A secret that has haunted her for fifteen years. As the assistants begin to terrorise Jo, it soon clear they want more than control. They want to destroy her. As her life slowly unravels, Jo desperately tries to get to the truth before it’s too late for herself and those she cares about.
Eerie, menacing and sinister, The Assistant is a timely story about our love affair and reliance on technology mixed in with a story about mental health problems and good old fashioned vengeance. It is a claustrophobic story and you have a real sense that someone or something is always watching and listening.
Jo was an unreliable protagonist as early on we learn her father had late-onset schizophrenia and his symptoms were remarkably similar to what she is experiencing. Everything is questionable: is she hallucinating the assistants saying these things or is this really happening? I liked this as we never know what to think which makes the story harder to predict and you’re full of questions right up until the end. I would go back and forth in my own thoughts on Jo’s sanity and what was really happening throughout the book.
The idea that someone could weaponise the assistants against us filled me with a lingering sense of horror. We’re all dependent on technology to some degree. If I leave the house without my phone I panic and feel like my arm has been cut off. We don’t think twice about using these devices to make life easier and connect with people. It is also seen as something that doesn’t make mistakes and it certainly doesn’t think for itself, which is why no one believes Jo when she says it’s out to get her, is speaking to her and doing things using her email accounts of its own accord. That’s just crazy. And it seems just as crazy that someone could be using the assistants to get some kind of revenge. After all, Jo is in charge of the apps.
This was my first book by this author but won’t be my last. I loved the language and vivid imagery in his writing and though I felt like it started a little slow, the tension soon ramped up to a nail-biting suspense. I was desperate for answers and couldn’t put the book down, racing towards the finale where the jaw-dropping twist and revelations left me blindsided.
I would recommend this unsettling and unpredictable novel for anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers. Just make sure you unplug your Alexa before you start…
Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollinsUK for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published November 29th.
Published November 29th.