Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Jenny Blackhurst’s fantastic novel, ‘How I Lost You.’ I really enjoyed this book – keep reading to find out why…
My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan.
I have no memory of what happened but you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police are telling you, don’t you?
But if you can’t remember what happened, how can you be sure that they are telling the truth?
And if there was the smallest chance your son was alive, wouldn’t you do anything to get him back?
If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to explicit acts of physical and sexual violence, including rape
‘How I Lost You’ (October 2014) is Jenny Blackhurst’s debut novel, followed by ‘Before I Let You In’ (November 2016). Her newest novel ‘The Foster Child’ is due to be released as an eBook in September 2017. Blackhurst grew up reading crime novels, so it was only natural that she write her own. ‘How I Lost You’ was inspired by her personal emotions she felt around the birth of her own son. Blackhurst was born in Shropshire and continues to live there now.
‘How I Lost You’ quite rightly received much positive praise – for example, Shropshire Star called it “A thrill.” Authors also loved the novel, such as Alex Marwood: “As twisted as a mountain road, Blackhurst’s fast-moving and unputdownable debut will keep you glued to your seat,” and Clare Mackintosh: “Utterly gripping – brilliant debut!”
This novel truly had me on the edge of my seat throughout, and Blackhurst’s writing is intelligent and sophisticated. The narrative essentially follows Emma/Susan, who was accused of murdering her baby son Dylan and then served three years in a psychiatric institute. Upon her release, she receives clues that Dylan might not be dead – and so goes on a hunt to search for the truth.
Emma/Susan was by far my favourite character in the novel. It’s very easy to dislike her at first, but once the reader learns more about her, it’s clear to see that she’s a good person at heart. She’s an extremely loving person and has found it very difficult to come to terms with the fact that she has allegedly murdered her son, and her life has truly fell apart since. But once she receives clues that Dylan may in fact be alive, her motherly instincts kick in and she will do anything to find out the truth and protect her family.
There are not many likeable characters in this book! Emma/Susan’s friend Cassie has good intentions, but her actions and behaviour is sometimes very extreme and bizarre, and she’s often very overprotective of her friend. Nick, the reporter, seems kind and sweet at first, but he is hiding his own secrets deep down. And Emma/Susan’s ex-husband Mark has made some terrible mistakes in the past, but has finally learned what love and family means.
The narrative switches back and forth in both time and perspectives. It switches from the present-day troubles of Emma/Susan’s, and the earlier accounts from over twenty years ago of the “Brotherhood.” The two narratives do seem extremely disjointed and confusing for a while, and the connection only clicks about two thirds of the way through the novel. But the link is fascinating and clever, and Blackhurst’s skill as a writer truly shines through.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel details explicit scenes of both physical and sexual violence, including scenes of rape. The novel becomes pretty dark and difficult to read at times, especially towards the end. If you think these issues may trigger a negative response for you, or reading about them may harm you emotionally, then I would urge you to skip this book.
This novel addresses many issues, such as death, abandonment, law and justice, mental illness, relationships and peer pressure within specific elite social groups. It truly explores the human psyche, and the ways in which individuals may be manipulated to believe they have carried out a specific act. It explores actions and consequences, and the ways in which the past may come back to haunt us.
As both narratives motor forwards, many more secrets are revealed, and the tension gets stronger and stronger. Emma/Susan receives more and more hints that Dylan may not be alive, and it soon becomes clear that somebody is after her. As the past narrative continues, the disgusting and atrocious acts that the “Brotherhood” committed are revealed, and the novel gets pretty dark. The two narratives collide in the most astonishing way, leading up to the excellent finale.
So, let’s talk about the ending. The ending is absolutely spectacular. Just before the dramatic ending scene, everything finally clicks for the reader and it becomes clear that something is about to go very wrong – but is it too late? There’s a dramatic final scene in which the characters must fight for what’s right, and ultimately fight for survival. The scene is so full of tension and suspense – I simply couldn’t look away! I’m glad that the novel ended the way it did, and it gave me much satisfaction.
Overall, I’d highly recommend this novel if you like more complex and sophisticated Psychological Thrillers. It’s full of mystery and suspense, fantastic characters and a truly excellent ending! My only criticism is that, for me personally, it took a little bit too long for the two narratives to connect together – I’d have liked to see the link a bit sooner. But regardless of that, this is an absolutely fantastic read, and I’d urge you all to read it!
Happy reading 🙂