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 C.L. Taylor’s fantastic new Thriller, ‘THE FEAR’. This book is released today (22nd March 2018), and I’m also due to take part in the blog tour for ‘THE FEAR’ next month, so keep your eyes out for that! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…
When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.
Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.
But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to mental illness, including self-harm and suicide. Also contains references to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including descriptions of rape. Includes some mild references to substance abuse.
‘THE FEAR’ (22nd March 2018) is C.L. Taylor’s 5th adult Psychological Thriller, following on from ‘THE ACCIDENT’ (2014), ‘THE LIE’ (2015), ‘THE MISSING’ (2016) and ‘THE ESCAPE’ (2017). She has also written a Young Adult Thriller, titled ‘THE TREATMENT’ (2017). In the past, she has written various short stories and romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor). Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.
The novel has received fantastic reviews from many fellow authors, such as Clare Mackintosh: “Fans of C.L. Taylor are in for a treat. The Fear is her best yet”, Sarah Pinborough: “Smart, packing a punch to the heart, and dark in all the right places”, C.J. Tudor: “Twisted, unbearably tense and a shock ending”, Lucy Clarke: “A gripping and disturbing psychological thriller”, Lisa Hall: “Pacy, well written and anxiety inducing” and Emma Kavanagh: “The Fear is a compulsive read, that forces the reader to consider just how far they would go to protect themselves and those around them.”
‘THE FEAR’ follows the life of Lou Wandworth, who was groomed and taken abroad as a teenager by her karate teacher Mike Hughes. Now an adult, Lou discovers that Mike is grooming another teenager, and she does everything she can to stop history from repeating itself. But things don’t go to plan, and once again she must protect herself from the dangerous man.
The narrative is told from the perspectives of Lou, Wendy and Chloe. Lou’s chapters are narrated in the first person, offering an in-depth viewpoint of her thoughts and feelings, whilst Wendy and Chloe’s are narrated in the third person. The narrative also contains time jumps, mostly narrated in the present day (2007) but also containing flashbacks in the form of Lou’s diary entries. The narrative is made up of many elements, but is still very easy to follow.
Of course, Lou was my favourite character in the novel. She’s an extremely complex character – on the one hand, she’s really tough and determined to do what’s right, but on the other hand she is still very vulnerable and emotionally-driven. She puts everything in her own life on hold to help out a young girl (who she doesn’t even know), which really moved me as a reader. Sure, she makes plenty of mistakes, and at times her decisions are very impulsive, but ultimately she’s just a very strong-willed character. She’s an extremely realistic character, and I found myself really relating to her at many times during the novel. She’s probably one of my favourite ever characters!
Mike is, as you can probably guess, a very unlikable character. He’s nasty and controlling, with a terrible violent streak that causes him to be aggressive to most people around him. He’s an expert at grooming young, vulnerable girls – he really turns on the charm and makes them feel loved, but deep down he is just a monster. The less said about him, the better. Wendy is also initially an unlikable character, but towards the end of the novel I started to warm to her a bit more. She goes out of her way to hunt down and seek revenge on Lou, and at first the reader is left confused as to why. But soon the connection becomes clear, making me dislike Wendy even more! Towards the end of the novel she does redeem herself slightly, finally learning to do what’s right.
Chloe also deserves a special mention, as she’s an extremely well-written character. Taylor truly grasps the thoughts and feelings running through this young girl’s head, and the reader is provoked to feel really sympathetic towards Chloe. She believes she’s in love with Mike, and when things go wrong she believes she has nobody to turn to, which really broke my heart. Thankfully she too begins to see Mike for what he is, and the tables all turn on Mike. Other characters in the novel include: Ben (Lou’s boyfriend), Alice (Lou’s friend), Chloe’s parents and her younger brother Jamie, Chloe’s school friends, and various members of the police.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) This novel focuses a lot on the grooming of young girls as committed by Mike. The novel details, often through the form flashback but also through present-day accounts, the physical, emotional and sexual abuse that the girls’ suffered at the hands of Mike, including battery and rape. The novel also contains references to mental illness, including self-harm and a suicide attempt. Finally, the novel also touches upon the issue of alcoholism. Taylor handles these issues very well, and explores them in just the right amount of detail. But if any of these issues may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
The three narratives all motor onwards, and all characters reach crisis point. Lou must work hard to defeat the man who’s had a hold over her for most of her life, Wendy must put aside her fears and fight for what she knows is right, and Chloe must escape from the man whom she loves so dearly. The characters must work together to overpower Mike once and for all, and stop this evil monster from taking more young girls… but they are rapidly running out of time.
So, let’s talking about the ending. There’s a dramatic scene close to the end of the book that is jam-packed full of action and danger. The characters confront Mike, but things go horrifically wrong. My eyes were glued to the page during this entire scene – I simply couldn’t tear them away! The scene is then followed by a fantastic resolution, and I was really happy with the way the events were resolved. The ending made me feel so many emotions, and provoked me to think deeply about morality – which only the best Psychological Thrillers achieve, in my opinion.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you out there who enjoy Psychological Thrillers, particularly with more disturbing story-lines. I fully agree with all the critics out there who have named this C.L. Taylor’s best novel yet, and I’m a huge fan of all her books! A truly absorbing, gripping, compelling read – I guarantee you won’t be able to put this down! C.L. Taylor’s writing is exceptional, and with ‘THE FEAR’ she has truly outdone herself.
Happy reading 🙂