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Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Published: December 31st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.


A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

MY REVIEW:

OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish. I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on. 

Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.

The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong.  But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed. 

The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.

Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.

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He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the & gifted copy of the novel .

SYNOPSIS:

This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisty and smouldering with tension, nothing is as it seems in this spectacular thriller.

Lured by the promise of inheriting life-changing wealth, siblings Beth, Eddie and Portia are reluctantly recreating the road trip they took with their Grandpa twenty years ago. Things happened on that first trip that they have never discussed again, not even amongst themselves, the memories tormenting them as they retrace their journey. And when they realise they are being followed, the siblings begin to wonder if this trip will end just like the first, or if this time they will manage to emerge unscathed…

Wow! Samantha Downing has done it again. Her debut, My Lovely Wife, was one of my favourite books of 2019 so I was eagerly anticipating this follow up and hoping that lightning would strike the same place twice. Thankfully it did. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from start to finish. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from the first pages. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. 

The Morgan family are a family held together by gossamer threads and haunted by the ghosts of twenty years ago. They are fractured, troubled, well-written characters who are each full of secrets and their own hidden agendas for agreeing to this road trip, besides the money of course. The narrator, Beth, tells the reader from the start she’s no heroine, giving us a small hint of the turbulence to come as the layers of her character are slowly peeled away. 

He Started It left me reeling, I did not see that ending coming at all and was left with my jaw on the floor. An absolute tour de force, this is a thriller you don’t want to miss. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her next book is called He Started It and will be released in 2020. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.

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