As far back as Marta can remember, she has been a dutiful wife and mother. But her son has recently left home for the first time and Marta decides to stop taking her pills. Just to see what might happen. Soon she starts seeing a blonde, gray-eyed girl who seems to be trying to tell her something. The visions of the girl seem like memories to Marta. But she can’t trust her memory, either, as she finds herself smoking when she doesn’t remember ever having been a smoker. Memory or delusion? Either way, Marta is in danger.
I won this book in a giveaway from Gone Pecan a few months ago. I like thrillers so I thought this would be an interesting one to try. What impressed me about this book was the tone. The entire book was dark, stifling, and tense. Marta narrates in present tense, which isn’t always my favorite, but worked well here to build suspense and kept with the quiet tension running throughout the book. The book is set somewhere in Scandinavia during the winter, which also helped with the feel, too. It’s cold and dark and Scandinavia=thriller in my mind (too much Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I guess). I also liked that Marta’s narration never resolves the ambiguity of what is happening to her. We never learn whether she is the victim of a crime or the victim of her own mind. I like a thriller with an open-ending and while the ending here is pretty definite there is no resolution to a lot of the questions that come up and I like being left to mull things over for myself.
What I wasn’t too keen on here was the plot in general. I guessed what Marta’s repressed past was on like the second page of the book and while it didn’t really detract from the story or make it less satisfying, it was a little disappointing. If you have read any number of the popular thrillers in the last 5 or so years (especially something like Before I Go to Sleep, which is mentioned in the book blurb on the ARC I won), then the twist isn’t really a surprise. So I kind of had a “this has been done” feeling while reading, even though I think the writing was a lot better and fresher than some books with similar plots. Also, one thing I like about thrillers is the plot twists and the author’s ability to mess with my mind. Guessing the secret meant no plot twist thrills for me. But I guess Chapman has messed with my mind, with that ambiguous ending, so credit where it is due.
If you like thrillers, the writing in this one is good and it is worth picking up just for Chapman’s ability to create a creepy atmosphere and build tension. It won’t make my list of best thrillers ever (Gillian Flynn has ruined me for other authors), but I’d be willing to read another book from Chapman if/when there is another.