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 Holly Seddon’s latest novel, ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’, which was released earlier this week. I was sent an signed ARC of this by Corvus/Atlantic Books, so thanks so much for that! Keep reading to find out my thoughts…
Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.
Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…
And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.
But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship…
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to explicit acts of both physical and sexual violence, including a scene of rape, and references to substance abuse/alcoholism and mental illness (including suicide).
‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ is Holly Seddon’s second novel, and was published on 6th July 2017, following on from her debut ‘Try Not To Breathe’ (July 2016). Seddon is a full-time writer who lives in Amsterdam with her family. She has previously written for newspapers, websites and magazines, and has always been obsessed with music and books.
‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ has received much positive praise. Publishers Weekly called it “[A] smartly plotted psychological thriller…plenty of last-minute bombshells await,” and Sun pinned it “[A] fascinating thriller…too good to miss!” Plenty of fellow authors also loved the book, for example Sam Carrington: “Thought-provoking, clever, twisty and totally compelling,” and Gillian McAllister: “It’s a really sensitive and gripping exploration of childhood issues looming large into adulthood.”
I was captivated by ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ from the very first page. It tells both the present-day and past stories of twins Robin and Sarah, as their present-day issues are gradually explained by the domestic horrors of their pasts. Robin is agoraphobic and unable to leave her house, and Sarah has been accused of a dreadful act. Both must confront their pasts in order to move forwards in the present…
I really enjoyed reading both Robin and Sarah’s accounts of the past and the present, and found that I loved reading both equally. Robin, the ex-guitar player of a rock band, is now living alone in Manchester and suffers from crippling agoraphobia. She refuses to answer the door to anybody and instead hides underneath her bed and suffers panic attacks. She’s a damaged, fragile character, and only when we begin to read her account of the past can we begin to understand the horrors she has experienced. I really related to Robin – Seddon’s account of her anxiety felt extremely realistic, and struck a chord with me personally. And when a stranger begins pursuing Robin, her anxiety only increases.
Sarah seems to have gotten the perfect life, but she has just been accused of something terrible. She got the caring husband and the baby, but both have been cruelly taken from her, and the only way to make amends is to confront her past. Sarah is a complex character who, on the outside, seems hard and stern, but on the inside she is still suffering from the trauma of her past. She goes on a hunt for her twin sister Robin, but unsurprisingly encounters many difficulties on the way. Towards the end of the story, I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Sarah, as it turns out that she is a remarkable character who has suffered a great ordeal.
Other characters in the novel include Robin and Sarah’s friend/step-brother Callum, and both sets of parents. Callum is another character that I really warmed to – he has had a difficult upbringing and has not received the love or support he truly deserved. He spends his life searching for that love, but will he ever find it? The family dynamic of the parents is confusing and complex, and both sets of parents interweave when a shocking revelation occurs.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel contains descriptions of explicit physical and sexual violence, including a scene describing a rape. It also explores the themes of substance abuse/alcohol dependency further along in the novel, and towards the end the themes of various mental illnesses and suicide are also described. Whilst these scenes are brief and not extensively described (in my opinion), they may be difficult for some readers – so if any of these topics may be triggering for you, I suggest you skip this book.
Both the past and present narratives motor forwards, and eventually collide. This is a novel about an extremely complex family dynamic, and I would personally describe it as more of a domestic drama than a psychological thriller, although the thriller elements are certainly there. It explores the idea of having to confront the past in order to move forwards in the present, and how the events of the past can truly scar an individual. It details the devastating effects of familial separation, and reminds the reader that love and family are most important in life.
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a shocking twist that I certainly never saw coming – in fact, I was convinced that things were going in quite the opposite way! From that twist, a series of shocking revelations occur, and the characters must work together and forget their differences in order to make things right again. There isn’t a dramatic final scene full of action and suspense; rather, there’s a revealing of a series of truths and betrayals. I was extremely satisfied with the ending, and felt that it tied together the events of the novel perfectly.
Overall, this novel is perfect for those of you who love thrillers, but also enjoy reading domestic dramas. I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this novel, and devoured it in just two sittings. My only criticism is that it was quite slow at the beginning – but once things get moving, they don’t stop! That being said, I highly recommend this novel to all of my readers.
Happy reading 🙂