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Book Review: ‘He Said/She Said’ by Erin Kelly

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Erin Kelly’s fantastic Psychological Thriller, ‘He Said/She Said’. I absolutely adored the book and highly recommend it to all of my readers! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…

he said she said

Don’t be left in the dark.

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden . . . something she never could have guessed.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including a scene of rape. Also contains references to mental illness. Contains references to pregnancy issues, and also substance abuse.

‘He Said/She Said’ is Erin Kelly’s fifth novel, and was published in April 2017. It was a Sunday Times bestseller, a Simon Mayo Radio 2 book club pick, a Richard and Judy book club thriller 2018 and was shortlisted for Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. She has also written ‘The Poison Tree’ (2010), ‘The Sick Rose’ (2011), ‘The Burning Air’ (2013), ‘The Ties That Bind’ (2014) and ‘Broadchurch: The Novel’ (2014), inspired by the hit TV series. Kelly lives in North London with her husband and daughters.

The novel has received loads of positive praise, from the likes of Observer: “Kelly is a master at drip-feeding us the details, keeping us guessing about the truth, and the many shades of grey it contains, right until the end”, and Sunday Mirror: “Seamless plotting, descriptive prose, characters so real they pull you in to their tangled lives – and then an absolute humdinger of a twist that will take your breath away”. Many fellow authors also loved the book, such as Clare Mackintosh: “I’m calling it: THIS is the book I wish I’d written”, Kate Hamer: “Superbly dark and complex” and Ruth Ware: “A tour de force – a gripping, twisting, furiously clever read that asks all the right questions and keeps you guessing until the very end”.

‘He Said/She Said’ is an exceptional Psychological Thriller, meditating on the difficulties of trust and betrayal. The novel follows the lives of Kit and Laura, whose lives are torn apart after they witness a young girl being attacked. Years later, Kit and Laura struggle to to cope with their anxieties and lead normal lives…and then the events of that night come to the forefront of their lives again.

The narrative is split into five parts, mirroring the five parts of an eclipse: first contact, second contact, totality, third contact and fourth contact. The narrative is told from the perspectives of couple Laura and Kit, narrated in both the present day (2015) and the past – the event of the eclipse viewing festival (1999). These accounts are detailed and in-depth, providing the reader with lots of information about each of the characters, and the ordeal they have encountered.

Laura is definitely my favourite character in the novel. She suffers with anxiety and panic attacks, and lives her life constantly feeling on-edge. In the present day, she is pregnant with twins, and must learn to try and put her fears behind her and be the best mother she can possibly be. But she’s fragile and easily agitated, and when Kit leaves her in the house alone to go on a trip to view the eclipse, she struggles to cope. She’s a kind-hearted, lovely character, who has unfortunately been through a lot of hard times in her life. She’s an extremely relatable and believable character, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her.

Laura’s partner Kit is a seemingly lovely character, but it soon becomes clear that he has a few secrets lurking beneath the surface. He’s extremely kind and supportive of Laura, and will do anything to make her feel safe. But he’s very troubled by his past, too, and occasionally the reader gets a glimpse of his jealous, nasty side. Beth, the girl whom Laura witnessed being attacked, is a seemingly “bad” character. She’s strong and in control, and knows how to manipulate people into getting what she wants. She was the victim of a tragic crime which she did not deserve, and has been through a great ordeal. But she’s a much more complex character than first meets the eye.

Other characters in the novel include: Jamie (Beth’s attacker), Mac (Kit’s twin brother), Ling (Mac’s wife), and various other family members and friends. The novel consists of a relatively small cast of characters, which I really appreciated as all of the characters bring something fresh and exciting to the novel.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel explores the themes of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, including repeated references to a scene of rape. The rape goes to trial, and all the grizzly details of the crime are revealed in the courtroom. The novel also explores the theme of mental illness in some detail, especially anxiety and sleep disorders. Pregnancy issues and fertility issues are spoken about in some detail in the novel. And finally, the novel also details substance abuse, including alcoholism and drug use. All of these issues are explored in sufficient detail and with appropriate sensitivity, but if they may trigger a negative response from you, I would suggest you skip this novel.

As the present day narrative progresses, it soon becomes clear that somebody is after Kit and Laura, and they are no longer safe. Laura’s due date grows closer, and she must face her fears one final time before bringing two new lives into the world. As the past narrative progresses, we discover exactly what happened at that fateful eclipse festival in 1999. Will Kit and Laura be able to move on from the past, or will they always live in fear?

So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s an astounding revelation in which all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. But the reader doesn’t get a chance to process this, as Kit and Laura’s present lives are in danger, and they must fight for survival. There’s a dramatic end scene jam-packed full of action – I absolutely loved it! My eyes were glued to the page all during the ending, and I couldn’t have put it down if I tried! I was really pleased with the way the novel ended.

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy Psychological Thrillers, particularly those of you who enjoy reading courtroom dramas and references to crimes. The novel really puts into perspective the debilitating effects of such a horrendous crime, and how it can negatively affect the victim, and others, years later. A fantastic thriller jam-packed full of twists and turns, fantastic characters and an astounding ending – what more could you want?! My only criticism is that it was a bit slow to start – but once it got going, it didn’t stop!

Sound good? Click here to purchase your copy!

Happy reading 🙂

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