Waiting on Wednesday: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  My book this week is : Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough.  Another book with a bit of a wait but absolutely worth it.  Due out January 2017 this book is already gathering a lot of favourable attention (which really doesn’t surprise me – I love everything I’ve read by SP so I’m on pins now waiting for this one to come out!).  Here’s the description:

behindhereyesDestined to be the blockbuster book of 2017, Behind Her Eyes is a psychological thriller with a to-die-for twist for fans of Luckiest Girl Alive and Stephen King.

Love at first sight can be blinding…

It’s said that the only people who really know what goes on in a marriage are the couple themselves. But what if even they don’t know the truth?

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He’s a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

Louise, David’s new secretary, is intrigued and drawn into their orbit. But as Louise gets closer to each of them, instead of finding answers she uncovers more puzzling questions. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can’t guess how wrong – and how far a person might go to protect a marriage’s secrets.

I can’t wait for this!

 

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 16 June 2016

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1313 minutes s a psychological thriller that looks at life through the eyes of a bunch of 16 year olds.  It’s one of those books that, reading as an adult, makes me simultaneously almost giddy with relief that I’m no longer at high school followed by this horrible prickly sensation about maybe never truly knowing another person.

As you can gather from the book jacket the story starts with 16 year old Natasha Howland  (Tasha) being pulled from a freezing cold river.  For a few minutes, in fact 13 to be precise, Tasha actually died before she was revived and taken to hospital.  When she eventually awakens she has no memory of the events that led to her near drowning experience but given that she was in the local woods in the early hours of the morning, with a text from an unknown number luring her to the spot the police are a little suspicious of events.

What really worked for me with this book is the deceptively simple writing and the easy way that the characters and their histories are so easily brought to life on the page.  This is truly a mean girls story where the popularity stakes have reached an all time high.

So, to the characters.  The majority of the story is narrated through Becca, who was once firm friends with Tasha until she was unceremoniously dumped because she no longer fit the image required to become ‘popular’.  Quickly replaced by a newer, prettier version Becca never totally got over the rejection and in fact suffers from rather low self esteem.  Tasha and her two followers (known as the Barbies) are the toast of the school, everyone wants to be their friend – or just be noticed by them.  They’re beautiful.  They set trends and go to all the cool parties.  However, it does seem that after Tasha’s near death experience something isn’t quite right.  The friendship doesn’t seem to click any more and there is something strange unfolding.

The setting is pretty much a modern day high school setting and obviously most of the characters are 16 years of age, so it seems on the face of it that this is aimed at a YA audience – however, don’t be fooled by that.  This is a clever story, well written with plenty of mystery and tension.  I would also mention that the f-bomb, sex and drugs play a role here but only in a way that gives the story added realism and not in a gratuitous fashion.

I’m not really going to go into the plot.  There is plenty going on and no let up in the drama.  I admit that some of it will have a familiar feel in terms of being set in a school, the back biting, the bitchiness and the struggles of the students who seem to have the constant threat of committing social suicide hanging over their heads.  The story is much more than a school drama though.  Narrated partly through Becca, diary entries by Tasha, police reports and notes of therapy sessions along with the odd texts and other articles.  That probably sounds as though it would give the story a choppy feel but that really isn’t the case and in fact it all adds to the tension.  It’s also worth paying special attention to all of these different methods of narration because on reflection the author gives a lot of subtle hints to the reader – at the same time of course as throwing in plenty of red herrings, giving everyone secrets and making half the cast appear to be implicated!

I thoroughly enjoyed this.  It’s an absolute page turner and very entertaining.  A murder mystery that isn’t afraid to really take a look at relationships, look at people’s fears and motivations and examine the mixed messages and double standards that so often lead to mischief, difficulty or, in this case, much worse.

I’ve enjoyed all the books I’ve read by Sarah Pinborough and this is no exception.  A talented author who seems to be able to turn her hand to anything and give it a certain special something I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

I received a copy of this courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

Waiting on Wednesday…

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This is my first time taking part but I’m keen to share some upcoming releases.  This Wednesday’s choice does feel like a bit of a long wait but I’m excited about it so wanted to share it:

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough – due for release 18th February 2016:

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

This sounds amazing and frankly I’ve loved every book that I’ve read by this author so you can take it as read that I’m excited for this.

Murder by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 29 July 2015

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Murder was one of my books that I’ve had for a while waiting to be read and I’m so pleased that I finally made the time to pick it up.  It’s such a good book.  Really, I don’t think I’ll be able to heap enough praise on it although i’ll certainly give it a good try.  Let the gushing commence!

Murder is the second book in a series by Sarah Pinborough, a series that started with a creepy and dark first instalment called Mayhem.  I think this could be read as a standalone to be honest although I would recommend reading the first in order to get the full measure of the characters involved.  And, if you haven’t read Mayhem then this review will undoubtedly contain spoilers so be aware of that before continuing.

The story starts a few years after the conclusion of Mayhem.  Dr Bond is finally beginning to recover from the events that saw the death of Harrington and has managed to convince himself that the strange monster that he thought he saw at the time was nothing more than a drug induced fantasy.  He’s carved out a comfortable lifestyle for himself and managed to become a firm family favourite with Harrington’s widow and son, in fact he harbours strong hopes of making Juliana his wife (in spite of a rather significant age difference).

Unfortunately, however, the past has no intention of lying quietly to one side and past events are about to be raked over when an old friend of Harrington’s from the US (Kane) visits London to pay the good doctor a visit.  He has a bundle of letters that seem almost crazy, written to him by Harrington, and he wants somebody to look them over and see what they make of the whole thing.

I’m actually not going to go into the plot at all other than the above.  Once again Pinborough manages to write a work of fiction bringing to life real people and events from a period of the past that was particularly scary and once again she provides us with what appears to be two murderers.

What did I really like about this book.  The writing.  It’s simply so very good.  Frankly, I’m a pushover for really good writing and so this was an easy win for me.  Every time I opened the pages I sunk into them and became unaware of everything around me.  I was literally like the fly on the wall watching everything happen – and some of it was damned scary enough for me to want to fly away.  SP paints the scene expertly.  She gives details but doesn’t dump, she captures the era perfectly without being a stickler to it and she absolutely succeeds in bringing her characters to life and giving them real emotions.  You are definitely going to feel for these characters and Pinborough will put you through the emotional wringer along with them.  I really didn’t foresee some of the events that took part and I’m not too proud to say that they left me gobsmacked.  There’s also the perfect evocation of a dirty, smoggy, dark and despairing London where evil seems to lurk in the very mist and sink into the pores of the people travelling the streets.

On top of that the characters.  I think Dr Bond is one of the most compelling characters I’ve read for an age and one that I’ve had the most torn feelings over.  His journey into madness and despair is perfectly riveting.  The other characters are equally good and written in a way that builds them up slowly.  Kane for example, I started off mistrusting him and his thoughts in general and in fact finding him a little offensive at first and I think this was really clever because at the back of your mind you start to assign the character other secrets or see something more sinister about them.

I’m going to stop there as I don’t really want to give anything away other than the fact that I really enjoyed this book.  In fact, for me personally, it surpassed Mayhem.

A totally gripping, horrible, nasty, dark and grimy, chill inducing book with twists and turns aplenty and an excellent finish – which even gives me a tiny hope for something more.  Pretty please.

Read it.  That is all.

I’m submitting this for my Backlist Burndown book over at Tenacious Reader and also I’m adding it as one of my completed series (although secretly I am hoping for more!)

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough is an emotional and dark story.  A story that puts the focus on life and death and how people cope when faced with their own mortality.

I won’t deny that this is a difficult review to write and I’ve been mulling it around in my brain some.  Firstly, I’m aware that I won’t be able to do the story justice and, secondly, given the nature of the book I don’t want to portray this as really gloomy and put people off. It is undoubtedly a dark book and just a look at the cover alone gives you an idea that it’s going to be somewhat bleak, however, it’s so much more than that.

The story is set in the future although as a reader we find out very little about the time or lifestyle. We really only catch glimpses into the world when Toby takes a trip down memory lane, and these are only snippets designed to give us a small insight into what is going on.

Okay, this is my take (and I have been wrong on occasion). In this particular future it seems that children are given blood tests up to the age of 18.  Up to that age, if they’re going to develop a defective gene, it will show up in the blood.  After that they’re clear.  Not many people seem to have this defect and that would explain why all the children are so relaxed about the regular testing.  However, if the defect appears, well, the child is removed, immediately!  It’s very odd.  What is this defect. Well, I can only think that disease has been almost eradicated, however, maybe sometimes it rears it’s ugly head and it seems to manifest in all sorts of different ways – it could be worse than that but we don’t really find out! Anyway, defect equals incarceration. Why, not really sure – maybe there’s a great fear of disease once again taking a hold.

So, Toby, has been taken from his family and taken to a remote island where he now lives with a number of other inhabitants in an old mansion known as ‘The Death House’. This is a pretty horrible existence.  To a certain extent the boys and girls live a sort of boarding school existence with lessons in the morning and other activities that they can take part in to pass the time.  The problem is – they all know why they’re there and what could possible be worse than counting down your own existence never quite knowing when the grim reaper will show up. On top of that, you could call this a care home – except nobody really cares about their charges – it’s just all a means to an end. Cold and sterile and actually a little bit forbidding in the shape of Matron!

Okay, you’re probably thinking where’s the good.

Characters: I know I’m always banging on about characterisation but I do love good characters when I’m reading and this book has good characters in spades.  I mean, they’re not all as well developed as each other but we pretty soon get a good idea of the dynamics and different groups.  Toby, has become almost like a carer to the younger boys on his ward.  Jake is the tough guy and seems to have attracted the wannabee toughies.  Ashley turns to worship and given how scared they all are he also develops something of a following.  Then we have The Matron – everybody is trying to stay under her radar.  She is over starched to say the least.  Nurse Ratched could take a few lessons from her!

Plot: well, it’s all like a mystery and it’s compelling to read about.  You feel in the dark as a reader – which is somewhat ironic as Toby does like to spend most of his time wandering around by himself at night alone.  This is until the latest new additions to the house which include a young girl who is about to upset the tentative status quo. Clara.  She has an undoubted love of life that not even being brought to the Death House has squashed.

Setting: A dilapidated mansion on a remote island with lots of unfurnished, unused rooms.  It could be incredibly creepy but Toby relates the story in an unaffected manner.  He doesn’t believe in ghosts and is happy to spend time alone at night in what really could be a bit of a spooky setting.

The unexpected.  I sort of spent most of the novel gagging to find out what was going on.  What was the Sanatorium where the sick children disappeared to.  What actually happens there.  What I actually received instead was a captivating tale of love.  The love and care that some of the inhabitants found for each other in spite of such dire circumstances, the love that some of them managed to find in the most simple things – such as snowfall, and then the relationship that developed between Toby and Clara.

I will say that this is an emotional read.  I’m not going to lead you astray on that point.  But, it’s also intriguing and mysterious. You start reading and you don’t want to stop.

Pinborough has a way with words.  She’s the word master!!  I’ve read quite a few of her books now and she defiantly manages to evade genres skirting around on the edges of contemporary and speculative fiction. I love it!

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