Review of Close my Eyes
Simon and Schuster May 2013
I used to like stories, especially the stories Mummy told me when I was little. The Special Child was best. It’s a bit of a babyish story for me now but I loved it the most back then. In The Special Child, there’s a child that grows up all happy with a mummy and a daddy who are the king and the queen and then a wicked witch from the next kingdom comes and takes the Special Child into a prison and the mummy and the daddy are really sad but the Special Child does special fighting and kills the witch and escapes back to the mummy and daddy.
When Geniver Loxley lost her daughter at birth eight years ago, her world stopped… and never fully started again. Mothers with strollers still make her flinch; her love of writing has turned into a half-hearted teaching career; and she and her husband, Art, have slipped into the kind of rut that seems inescapable. For Art, the solution is simple: Have another child to replace Beth. For Gen, the thought of replacing her first child feels cruel, nearly unbearable. A part of her will never let go of Beth, no matter how much she needs to move on.
But then a stranger shows up on their doorstep, telling Gen the very thing she’s always desperately longed to hear: that her daughter was not stillborn, but was taken away as a healthy infant. That Beth is still out there, somewhere, waiting to be found. A fissure suddenly opens up in Gen’s carefully reconstructed life, letting in a flood of unanswerable questions. How could this possibly be true? Where is Beth? And why is Art so reluctant to get involved?
As Gen delves into the darkest parts of her past, she starts to realize that finding the answers might open the door to something even worse, a truth that could steal everything she holds close. Even her own life.
With searing emotional insight, Sophie McKenzie weaves a breathless thriller that digs in its hooks without mercy and twists without warning, confirming her place among today’s most exciting new voices in psychological suspense.
Sophie McKenzie is an award-winning author of young adult thrillers and romances. Close My Eyes is her first psychological thriller for adult readers and it has been compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn crossed with Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson.
Psychological thrillers are a fairly new genre for me as a reader so I was pleased to be given this book to review and I was drawn very quickly into Close My Eyes with its stripped back, no frills writing, its cleverly drawn world of intrigue and its suspenseful situation.
The characters are on the whole believable, mainly because they are seen through Geniver’s eyes. The first person present tense is intimate and immediate and so we live with Geniver in ‘real time’, the action unfolding for us as it does for her. We have a lot of her thought processes and so we build the characters up through these as much as through their actions and dialogue.
There were times when I wanted Geniver to be feistier, as she’s always reacting rather than being proactive, but she did stay within character. I would have liked to know more about Geniver’s family and why she has no one close to her that she can trust. I had to suspend my disbelief a little but the pace kept me enthralled and I was pulled in with the idea of not knowing who you can trust – like North by North West and The Thirty-Nine Steps.
The plot was appealing as it suggested in turn that a certain character was not to be trusted and then this suspicion was switched to someone else. And so on. I did guess the big reveal as to who was the ‘culprit’ but that could be because I am a novelist and trained to look out for these things. But I was not in any way ready for the punch that the epilogue delivered. Kapow!
A small point: I didn’t like the title much as it is a bit generic. And the names of the characters are unusual so I found this distracting.
Close My Eyes is definitely worth a read, even if you wouldn’t normally go for psychological crime. It’s an emotionally engaging, page-turning read and I definitely recommend it.
This review first appeared in Serendipity Reviews on May 15th 2013