The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

The Night Before - Wendy Walker Quick Review
The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

The Night Before – Wendy Walker Quick Review

When her relationship comes to a sudden end, Laura Lochner escapes city life for her sisters house in the suburbs. Despite the lack of luck she’s had in love, with the support of her sister Rosie, Laura pushes herself to try again. She’s met someone online. When she doesn’t return from her date the morning after, Rosie is left trying to piece together what could have happened to Laura… or what Laura could have done to her date.

The Night Before is separated between Laura’s past therapy sessions, Laura’s present POV, Laura’s POV from the night before and Rosie’s present POV. It sounds like a potentially clustered mess of chapters but I promise you, it is very easy to follow and the different POV’s worked well to serve the purpose of the book.

I could not stop reading this book. I flew through it all in one night, pulled in and consumed by the mystery. It was all the qualities I tend to fall in love with; emotionally resonant themes, characters and events, an unreliable narrator, intriguing twists and turns that had me changing my perception again and again and again.

Though I am new to Walker’s work, I could see her skill at evoking unease and dread, keeping the suspense and mystery building. Using carefully drawn out personal details and past events to color the characters and add to the way the readers view their actions. The subtle word choices that could be read as honesty or guilt or innocence or as a threat. The troubled girl who could be victim or predator just as easily. Who is the dangerous one? Laura? Jonathan Fielding, a stranger that Laura met online, who she’s alone with and vulnerable with, who she could potentially know nothing about? Are we being led to disregard Laura’s ability to be a victim because of how she and others perceive her?

There is no shortage of clever misdirection utilized. Honestly, I suspected several people, almost everyone, in turns which made the revelations at the end satisfying and the extent of it all surprising.

The two POV characters are convincingly their own voices. The rest felt mostly like background characters as the focus was for the most part on the two women and told in first person.

The one thing I had some trouble with (which I won’t go into much as I don’t want to give anything away) were some of the character decision making and opinions that felt kind of like odd leaps. There was also a lot of backstory, internal monologuey, telling but it was used well and definitely helped with some aspects of keeping up the story’s mystery.

This was a great read. I really recommend it. It’s short, it’s compelling and it’s psychologically dark.

*I have received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

– 4/5 The Night Before checks all of my psychological thriller boxes. It’s twisty, tense and the writing pulls you in and makes you question everything.

Buy it – The Night Before

 

 

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An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Quick Review

An Anonymous Girl - Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Quick Review
An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Quick Review

An Anonymous Girl – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen Quick Review

Jessica Farris signs up for much more than she bargained for when she stumbles into Dr Shields psychological study on ethics and morality. She expects the transaction to be simple – questions answered and money received on the other end. But Dr Shields has another agenda altogether more twisted and Jess is in far too deep by the time the plans are revealed.

Told through two P.O.V’s, Jessica and Dr Shields. The former a personal first person and the latter in second person, giving an effect of clinical, coldness and watchful control. An anonymous girl is an unsettling, absorbing and addictive read throughout. Easy to get through and difficult to put down.

The premise of a psychological study turned cat and mouse game was what really enticed me to the book. The way it all slowly unravels piece by piece was riveting, feeling the sense of something being very off from the moment you read Dr Shields P.O.V.

Jess goes into the situation blind and unprepared. Understandably she’s nervous to answer personal questions but is assured by the legitimacy she thinks a psychological study holds and the promise of the compensation on the other side. The sense of the unbalanced power dynamic is unnerving as Jess sits vulnerably in front of a computer and is watched and analyzed.

The set up and even beyond that as Dr Shields pushes Jess into more vulnerable positions is palpable tension.

I will say though I that I did wish for bigger and better twists as I expected most of them and never really felt that surprise or shock I was looking for. At points the story could have done with being just a little faster paced though I did understand the need for that build up, it took away from the tight suspense.

Morality is a major theme throughout, brought up in many ways. Abuse of power, infidelity and withholding truths being some of the things the main characters exhibit and struggle with in different ways. Though it was a bit on the nose with little ways for the reader to interpret the subject or the questions brought up themselves.

The characters are intriguing and complicated though Dr Shields at times is a little too villainous villain. There are points later on as her P.O.V seems to shift into a more personal tone that you find yourself somewhat understanding her behavior and motivation more. But she mostly remains this kind of alluring, calculated and twisted, unrelatable person.

Jess is the relatable average young woman. Her flaws pave the way for a big portion of the trouble she gets herself into. Her motivation revolves around survival and she uses this as a means to pull through the things thrown at her rather than being particularly smart or skilled. I did kind of appreciate that. They didn’t pull back from making her a real person who does shitty things, makes mistakes and isn’t a perfect, mystery solving genius who can go toe to toe with an older psychology graduate with years of experience under her belt, money at her disposal and an esteemed reputation.

The books charm is mostly in the dynamic between the two women. Each capable and damaged in their own way. Each with their own kind of allure. The cat and mouse game between them creates a creepy atmosphere and suspense as you wait for characters to catch on, anticipating the reactions and consequences once it all really hits the fan.

The story is not as psychologically scary as I’d have liked. It’s twisted, dark at times and light on violence. But it’s definitely one of those easy to consume stories. Entertaining and short.

– 3/5 An alluring and engaging read about an average young woman caught in the web of a manipulative and twisted psychologist who pushes her slowly and surely down a calculated path of her own very personal study.

Buy it  – An Anonymous Girl