book review · British · psychological suspense · thriller

Book Recommendation: What She Saw

How far would you go to keep your daughter safe?

Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter, Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, built a business to support them and found the perfect little cottage to call home. They hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears. It’s the relationship every mother dreams of.

But Leona never talks about why they moved to the Lake District.

She’s never told Beth anything about her father.

She says Beth should never speak to strangers. She says Beth doesn’t need friends.

She’s only trying to protect her daughter.

When Leona answers the phone one morning, her heart stops as she hears a voice from her past.

She’s given her daughter everything, but now she must tell her the truth. And once it’s out, can she keep her little girl safe?

What She Saw is a gripping psychological thriller with an incredible twist that will make your jaw drop. If you love The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or Behind Closed Doors you’ll be consumed by this.

My Review

4.5/5 stars

Wow, this is one of those stories that takes a while to get under your skin, but when it does you won’t stop reading till it’s all over.

The story centres on Leona who lives with her daughter, Beth, and partner, Scott, in the beautiful Lake District. Theirs is a quiet life and, for some strange reason, Leona wants to keep it that way. She doesn’t like to travel too far from home and she is quite stifling when it comes to her daughter’s whereabouts too. But, hey, if that’s what floats her boat, then who am I to argue?

Well, it’s all going well, plodding along nicely when Leona sees a face from the past – Ria – in a reflection at the local shop. From that moment on, her neuroses are on high alert. But why? Who is Ria, and why is Leona so afraid of her?

The story is told in alternate viewpoints by Leona and Beth at first. Then when Leona seeks help for her panic attacks, Ria comes in to tell her story. And, here is where we have “lift off”. From this point on, the author tells us just enough to keep us wanting more.

Relationships between the characters are explored, but we soon come to learn that Leona has not been honest with Scott, and that Ria is more important to Leona’s story than we might first imagine. At two-thirds in, the connections between the characters are solidified, and the drama in that last third travels at full throttle towards an exciting and tense ending.

The author portrays with sensitivity hard-hitting topics like abusive relationships (mental & physical) as well as school bullying and the struggle of a mother-daughter disconnect during those teenage years. Combined, these issues bring a grittiness to the story, which adds to the tension and drama particularly when the truth emerges. Never being sure how a character might react always brings an extra layer of intensity to a story, and such uncertainty is in abundance here allowing for multiple twists and turns along the way.

If you enjoy fraught emotional tales, strong characterisation amid a stunning backdrop, then you can’t go far wrong with this.

Purchase link: Amazon UK

As always,

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