Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson

mistertenderMister Tender’s Girl is one of those books that gets under your skin.  It’s a creepy book that gave me a serious case of the goosebumps.  It’s one of those books that makes you want to look over your shoulder when you’re reading because you have an irrational fear that somebody is watching you.

The Story brings to us Alice Gray.  On the face of it Alice is doing okay, more than okay even.  She owns a nice house and has room for a lodger in a separate set of rooms above her property.  She has her own business, a coffee shop with regular customers and she looks after herself working out at the gym a few times a week.  However, as soon as you start reading this it becomes immediately obvious that there’s more to Alice than at first meets the eye.  There’s a sense of fear and suspicion in the way she interacts with others and she comes across as so tightly wound that one nudge could take her over the edge.

Approximately 10 years ago, Alice Hill, aged fourteen, was the victim of a vicious attack.  She was stabbed multiple times and left for dead.  The attack became something of a news frenzy for more reason than one.  Firstly, the attack was carried out by twins who happened to be classmates of Alice.  Secondly, and probably the real cause of the frenzy, the twins claimed that they stabbed Alice in order to please Mister Tender – a fictional character from a graphic novel created by her father.  Following this the family struggled to cope, the parents split and the mother took Alice and her brother and moved from London to the USA (where Alice changed her name).

So, Alice is coping. She has PTSD and panic attacks occasionally but she’s getting by day to day until she receives a package in the post that contains an unpublished copy of one of Mister Tender’s tales, a story that in fact depicts Alice as she is now.  This is a story that, although started by her father ,was never completed.  Overwhelmed by guilt after the attack on his daughter Alice’s dad immediately stopped writing about Mister Tender and a few years later was himself murdered.  Someone else has picked up the mantle and sent a new story to Alice immediately squashing any feelings of security that she was clinging to and plunging her into a fear fuelled trauma.  Determined to no longer play a victim in her own story Alice decides to take action and once and for all put these ghosts from her past to rest.

I’m not going to go further into the plot.  This is as much a mystery as it is a gripping, tension fraught thriller and coming to the story without any preconceived ideas is definitely the best way to get the most out of the read.  I, for one, had no idea where this was taking me and I certainly didn’t second guess the ending.  I found this totally compelling, I was scared reading it but equally scared to put it down – I simply had to know what was happening.  I think the reason why this is so scary is it has this horrible sense of being watched or stalked.  Somebody knowing exactly where you’ve been, what you’re doing – is there really anything worse – I think the idea of the mysterious watcher is almost worse than what they may be potentially planning.  It’s just that dreadful sense of fearful anticipation where your imagination takes over and makes things even worse and this book captures that feeling so well and does so in a believable fashion.

I think the other thing about this is the awful realisation that victims of crime can potentially attract such unwanted attention, the sort of attention that is deeply invasive where people have become so fascinated with the victim that they become obsessed. That feeling of reality, together with the fact that this story was actually inspired by a true crime is what gives Mister Tender’s Girl it’s real edge.

In terms of characters.  I liked Alice, I felt scared for her and I was pleased when she resolved to take control.  The characters around her are more thinly sketched but quite easy to imagine and in a book where everyone could potentially be a suspect it’s probably better that the author is a little bit careful in terms of what he reveals.

I really enjoyed the writing style.  It has a crispness that really lends itself to the style of the book.  It isn’t overly descriptive or weighed down with exposition.  Everything feels relevant to the plot and the style successfully ratchets up the tension and creates a fast paced read.

I didn’t really have any criticisms although the ending did feel slightly off kilter and I’m not really sure why.  In one respect I liked it and think its perfect, especially in terms of the graphic novel that is the underlying foundation of the whole story.  But, in another respect it felt like things happened so quickly, Alice seemed to act out of character and it had more of a horror feel somehow.  Now you have to take into account at this point your own wimpometer or ability to cope with horror and understand that what I find horrible or scary you might find to be not so much so – just bare this in mind when picking this up.  Also, not a criticism but worth noting, particularly as I predominantly read speculative fiction – this book is a mystery/thriller story.

On the whole I had a thoroughly good time with this book – in other words I was gripped with tension and full of fear the whole time – which for me equals success.

My thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this, courtesy of Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.



23 Responses to “Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson”

  1. Tammy Sparks

    Wow, I knew nothing about this until I read your review. It sounds like something I’d love! I really enjoy well done thrillers that keep you guessing:-)

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is a good read, my only small concern was the ending but I did find this very creepy.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Barb (boxermommyreads)

    So I totally need to read my copy of this. After reading your review, this sounds like what I expected from “Final Girls.” Although of course with a different plot. So that really makes no sense but I’m hoping as a fellow bookworm you can understand me.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha – yes, obviously I completely understand. I hope you enjoy it
      Lynn 😀

  3. Carmen

    It sounds scarily good, if you know what I mean. 🙂 I wouldn’t read it though because I scare off easily. 😉

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is scary, and even more so because the inspiration is from a true case.
      Lynn 😀

  4. sjhigbee

    My whimpometer is dialed up to 100… thank you for an excellent review about a clearly effectively creepy read – which I shan’t be reading!

  5. Melissa (My World...in words and pages)

    Oh wow. This story line with the attacks sounds like an attack I watched about not to long ago. Two girls, about 14, stabbed their other friend to please Thin man. Crazy!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, that’s the inspiration for this story. It’s very creepy – and yes, crazy.
      Lynn 😀

  6. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    This sounds really good! I wonder if it was inspired by Slender Man. There are some disturbing parallels!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I enjoyed this. It was creepy and yes, it was inspired by the Slender Man case – which again gives me the shivers, brrrr.

  7. DJ (@MyLifeMyBooksMyEscape)

    You already have my heart racing from reading your synopsis alone! I definitely want to check this one out

  8. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    There was a time, long ago, when I enjoyed thrillers and read a great deal of them, then my fascination with speculative fiction won and I stopped reading them, but with this kind of premise and thanks to your very enthusiastic and very intriguing review, I know I will not hesitate to move out of my “comfort zone” for this book.
    Thanks you so much for showcasing this! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy. I found it creepy. I’m still torn with the ending but overall I thought it was a very good read.
      Lynn 😀

  9. proxyfish

    I’ve not read a good thriller in some time – but this sounds great! It reminds me of Slenderman and the creepy following it garnered. Definitely adding it to the non spec. fiction TBR! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      This was very good and apparently the slenderman case was the inspiration.
      Lynn 😀

  10. jessicabookworm

    Lynn, I am pretty sure you are braver than me, so I don’t think this book is for me! 😛

    • @lynnsbooks

      Haha, I don’t know about that but it was creepy and so if you don’t want to be creeped out then perhaps not
      Lynn 😀

      • jessicabookworm

        I’m just going by the fact you generally read bloodier, creepier things than me, so if you think it was creepy then it is really creepy. 😀

      • @lynnsbooks

        You have a point 😀
        Lynn 😀

  11. February : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Mister Tender’s Girl by Carter Wilson […]

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