What’s it about?
SHE’D DO ANYTHING FOR HER HUSBAND.
Julie has the perfect life. A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.
Cora’s life is a nightmare. A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret. There’s no way out.
But one night, their worlds collide.
Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened – and who they can trust to set them free.
From the bestselling author of The Never List, this is a breath-taking new thriller about the wife of a kidnapper and her relationship with his last victim.
This novel is very character driven. There are three characters (Julie, Cora and Adam) who are the main focus but there was actually one that I felt this novel was really most about and – here’s a surprise – it wasn’t the girl kept captive. Don’t get me wrong, I felt for Julie, the girl that got abducted and locked up in a room with boarded up windows. Her ordeal was horrific and although nothing graphic is mentioned, it doesn’t take much to feel the impact of her situation. Fact is, she gets only a few scraps to eat from Cora turning her into a severely emaciated girl. She certainly isn’t the lively girl from before, her days turned monotone and all she’s able to do is think about the best tactic to escape. I was happy to see that even in the most dire moments she never loses the fire within completely and she’s quite smart too in the way she’s thinking, how she tries different tactics to please her captor. I read her chapters and was very on edge every time because I knew she would only need a moment. I was waiting with her for that break, that opportunity to attack and be free again after all these months. Unfortunately, that moment doesn’t seem to come along as all angles are covered…
No the one I’m talking about is Cora, the woman who brings her food and who Julie tries to appeal to and engage in conversation every day. When I met Cora I thought she was pure evil to let this happen. When her husband James is away she could set her free if she wanted too. Then it became clear that these women share a bond. Even though Cora can move freely, she is just as scared for her husband and after a while it dawned on me that there was a time when she was just a normal kid. The only thing that made her different from you and me was her tragic life and the fact that nobody believed in her, was her friend or lover. I couldn’t help but feel pity and just when that feeling of empathy overruled, I was catapulted back to the present situation. I wanted her to still have some good in her, I wanted to believe in her, but all I saw was someone cold and detached, evil. How did it come to this, how can she be like that? All is explained in chapters in between, going back and fro present and past, working its way slowly up to her encounter with James, her husband and leader of a cult.
James’ voice isn’t very prominent but it was rather horrifying to read that she’s falling for him. It’s clear he kind of brainwashed her, or perhaps she wanted to believe in what he was telling because she never had anyone who believed in her and just wanted to belong. Again, I felt understanding and sympathy with her past self, alternating with anger for her present character. She dreams of living a quiet life on the farm and having a loving family. With a father who never gave her the time of day she finally sees someone who can give her the life she longs for. She starts believing and becomes his follower. They believe that The Revelation will come. What that entails will be revealed slowly, after I already feared the worst.
A final mention is for Adam, an ex-cop with an – unhealthy – obsession for finding missing girls and this case in particular for his own personal reasons. Adam is on a mission to rescue someone but who is he going to rescue exactly? I was a bit confused how Adam got on Cora’s trail because she wasn’t missing and I thought I spotted a few plot holes there in his explanations but nothing that put a downer on my reading experience.
This is Koethi Zan’s second novel and although it wasn’t as mind-blowing as The Never List (which I gave 5 stars) and has a different approach, it was intriguing and played with my feelings brilliantly. The characterization of Cora and Julie was very strong and on point and I could have given it 4 stars but I don’t think I really want to read it again, it’s not a very uplifting story after all, hence my 3.5 stars.
I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.