Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Five years ago Geo’s first love was revealed as a terrible serial killer.

But he escaped and went on the run.

Now, bodies have started turning up, killed in exactly the same way as before.

The message is clear: he’s making his way to her, one murder at a time…

MY REVIEW:

Deftly written, evocative, bold and breathtaking, Jar of Hearts is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. It consumed me and I flew through the pages, unable to get enough as I devoured the story quickly. But it isn’t for the faint hearted. It was gruesome and stomach-churning at times and chilled me to the bone. But it was a work of sheer brilliance with the author’s vivid imagery and heady mix of mystery and terror filling every page.

Geo is trying to put her life back together after spending 5 years in prison for her part in her best friend Angie’s murder. Gone is her high-paying career, the luxuries she enjoyed and even her fiance. Instead she’s had to move back in with her dad and is unemployed because no one wants to hire her after what she did. She is lonely, isolated and is finding freedom harder than prison where she at least had friends, a routine and wasn’t reviled. She was a complex character who made some bad decisions but after the truth about her relationship with Calvin is unveiled, you can understand her choices were made out of fear. Overall I liked her and particularly enjoyed the humour from her inner monologue that punctuated the fear and tension. Nevertheless, I had a nagging feeling that there was something more lurking beneath the surface, that she wasn’t the person she wanted us to think she was and it was only a matter of time before we learned the truth.

As we learn about the relationship between Calvin and Geo we gradually see how he controlled and abused her as their relationship quickly became toxic. Their dynamic echoed that of an abusive relationship in my past and the author’s descriptions of how it felt for Geo took be straight back to that time – making rationalisations about how it was my fault, thinking that the passion means the whole relationship will be intense, and accepting that walking on eggshells and living with fear is the price you must pay to be with this man you love so fiercely.

Calvin was a classic sinister villain. Better known The Sweetbay Strangler, his movie star looks and charm mask his true obsessive, controlling and abusive nature. We only see Calvin through other people’s eyes which added to his dark, menacing and enigmatic magnetism ad made him even more frightening and mysterious. The threat of him hung in the air and it felt like he was always lurking in the background, just waiting to pounce.

Jar of Hearts is a phenomenal thriller that took my breath away and immediately secured its place as not only one of my favourite books this year, but of all time. The author repeatedly delivered jaw-dropping twists and revelations that made me question everything I thought I knew. I read in breathless anticipation as I approached the startling conclusion; my heart pounding and filled with the urge to scream warnings to the characters on the page. Disturbing, tense, gripping and unflinching, this is a must-read for any thriller lover.

Out now.

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