Published: October 2013
Source: I purchased this book from Amazon.
Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.
But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.
Augh, how to convey how much I loved this book?! I took off half a star for the ending, which I didn't love personally but which I grudgingly admit did work well for the book. Everything else about this book was sheer perfection. It was the best kind of psychological thriller - I was immediately drawn in and invested and I had chills from page one.
Since it's pretty clear from the book description, I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that Marta is an unreliable narrator. As a reader, you very much want to believe in her version of events, but often find yourself unsure if you can. And at the same time you almost feel it might be best if the flashes of "memory" she begins to have do turn out to be hallucinations, because if they're real her whole life is a lie and she is married to a monster. Personally, I started to lean one way pretty early on, but there were quite a few moments that made me question my position.
The characters here are well-crafted. It is impossible to get a good read on Marta due to her unreliability, but it is equally impossible not to feel very protective of her. Whatever the reality it is clear that she lives an unfulfilled and isolated life. Marta's husband is, at best, controlling, sexist and manipulative. Her mother-in-law is a nightmare brought to life - horribly judgmental, constantly present, and impossible to please. Life with these two could push anyone into a nervous breakdown. It is heartbreaking to watch Marta push her beloved son away with her overbearing, desperate need to keep him close.
I've seeh a few reviews that complain that the ending is ambiguous, but I disagree. Although it may not be clearly spelled out, I do think it's clear by the book's end what really happened.
This is a great book to read this time of year, so if you haven't read it yet I strongly suggest that you do so. Fans of psychological suspense won't be disappointed.
If you have read it, I'd love to hear what you thought!
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