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Mini Reviews: Thrills, Tension and Trust

Thrillers, psychological fiction, suspense stories – there’s something about mind games, unreliable narrators and devious characters that makes me gravitate towards this genre. I love a novel which can challenge my expectations. A novel I can’t put down until I’ve unveiled the unknown.

Each of the three books featured in this post is seething with suspense. They all involve a question of trust and an answer of betrayal. I questioned the characters’ motivations, I felt uneasy at times, and oh, they challenged my expectations alright. So, without further ado, here are three thrilling tales which will have you hooked from start to finish.

Sleep

Author:  C.L.Taylor  Published:  April 2019  Rating:  4.5 stars

Sleep by C. L. Taylor review

Anna Willis is drowning in guilt following a tragic road accident involving her work colleagues. The fatal incident leaves her plagued with insomnia, flashbacks keeping her up at night. If she does fall asleep, she soon wakes up screaming. What’s more, she has an unnerving feeling that someone is stalking her. As a means of escape, she leaves her already broken relationship with Alex and starts fresh in the remote Scottish Island of Rum working in its only hotel. However, she may not be as safe as she thinks.

Seven guests book into the hotel, each with their own secrets and reasons to get away. One guest, however, has their sights set on Anna. This retreat quickly snowballs into a real-life nightmare. 

This psychological thriller is what you call a page-turner. Taylor’s writing was so engrossing that I felt as if I was in the thick of it all. I, too, was trapped on this remote island, claustrophobic as the raging storm cuts us from all civilisation.

The characters all had their own quirks which meant for a diverse group dynamic. Any of them might have had their sights set on Anna. Think ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ but in an isolated Scottish hotel. Who do you trust? I spent the entirety of the novel playing detective as I puzzled possible clues together. I had my speculations, but I didn’t once guess ‘who done it’.

The darkness of the final chapter left me with chills; the revelation of Anna’s stalker surprised me. However, their twisted motivations behind it all are what shocked me most. This is a story about guilt and its immense power to consume us. This was thrilling, gripping, a book worth losing sleep over.

An Anonymous Girl

Author:  Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen  Published:  March 2019  Pages:  375  Rating:  3.5 stars

An Anonymous Girl book review

We’re introduced to Jess, an aspiring makeup-artist who is strapped for cash. With the promise of anonymity and a paycheck, she signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields. Answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. Simple, right? However, as the questions become more intense, it’s not long before the study takes a turn. It morphs into something dangerous. Jess is caught in a web of deceit and jealousy and desperately tries to untangle her way out. 

Unlike Sleep, there aren’t any major twists, just subtle ones that take the plot in an unexpected direction. That being said, every time I thought I had it all figured out, there were more revelations and I didn’t know who to trust. 

Similar to how Jess felt a pull towards her, Dr. Shields intrigued me. She was the perfect unreliable narrator. A modern-day wicked-witch, with her amiable facade and generous gift-giving, wrapping Jess around her little finger. Her manipulative scheming is what kept me turning the pages, leading towards a satisfactory ending. 

If I took one thing from this book, it’s to read the fine print before taking a survey. You really don’t know what you’re signing yourself up for. 

Call Me Evie

Author:  J.P. Pomare  Published:  March 2019  Pages:  368  Rating:  4 stars

Call Me Evie book review

I’ll be honest and say what initially drew me to this book was the fact that my name is in the title. However, I wasn’t disappointed.

This haunting suspense story begins with seventeen-year-old Kate waking up in an isolated cabin in New Zealand. The man holding her captive, Jim, concocts a story claiming he’s her uncle and that she now must go by the name of ‘Evie.’ Although drug-induced and confused, Kate is certain he’s not telling the truth.

Call Me Evie follows Kate as she attempts to solve the puzzle of what her role truly was during the crime committed in Melbourne. She’s left with nothing but nebulous memories and vague dreams from the incident. Sedated and locked up, she is determined to discover the truth.

With her hazy memory, Kate is an unreliable narrator who left me second guessing various incidents throughout the plot. There are a plethora of well-developed characters in this small bleak New Zealand town. Is Kate being held captive or protected? Who can I trust? Moreover, who is Jim and what are his true motives? These questions kept me turning the pages as I itched to unveil their answers. 

Thanks to NetGalley, Avon Books UK, Pan Macmillan and Little, Brown Book Group UK for providing me with e-ARCs in exchange for honest reviews!

Are you a fan of thrillers? Do you have any recommendations?

11 Comments

  1. foreverseptember1 foreverseptember1

    I’m determined to read more this year, I love the sound of call me evie – one to add to the list!

    Lucy | Forever September

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I really enjoyed it!!

  2. I love thrillers! If I’m in a reading slump and want to get back into the rhythm of it, I’ll reach for a thriller. I read An Anonymous Girl in September and ended up rating it 3/5. It was a solid novel, but I felt like Jess was prematurely paranoid and that Dr Shields could have been more compelling if she were portrayed more human, and so the suspense was not as much as I had hoped it could be. -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Thrillers are some of my favourites to read for that exact reason, they always get me out of a slump! I agree, it just wasn’t believable enough for me. Thanks for reading! x

  3. One of my goals for the year is to reed more so will definitely give Sleep a go!

    Jenny | localleo.co.uk

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      I really enjoyed it, good luck with your reading goal!

  4. I love these kinds of stories – it keeps you on the edge. Sleep is an interesting book. It gives me a bit of the chills because I lived out of a hotel for 1/2 of a year one. An Anonymous is great if you just want a straight forward book. These books sound interesting! Thanks for sharing!

    Nancy ♥ exquisitely.me

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      Sleep was definitely favourite of the three, makes me nervous about going to a hotel now haha. Hope you get the chance to read it for yourself!

    • eviejayne eviejayne

      You should definitely give it a go the next time you fancy reading a thriller!

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