Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my full review of C.L. Taylor’s latest psychological thriller, ‘Sleep’. I was lucky enough to take part in the blog tour for this book – you can find that here. Thanks so much to Avon for sending me a proof copy! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.
Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to a serious car crash, including explicit references to physical injuries and the court case regarding dangerous driving. Explores the theme of mental illness, including PTSD and anxiety. Contains scenes detailing physical and emotional abuse.
‘Sleep’ (3rd April 2019) is C.L. Taylor’s sixth adult psychological thriller, following on from ‘THE ACCIDENT’ (2014), ‘THE LIE’ (2015), ‘THE MISSING’ (2016), ‘THE ESCAPE’ (2017) and ‘THE FEAR’ (2018). She has also written a young adult thriller named ‘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 book has received rave reviews, from fellow authors such as Fiona Barton: “Sleep does not do what it says on the tin: I was awake until the small hours under its dark and twisty spell”, Claire Douglas: “Extremely creepy, atmospheric and twisty”, Steve Cavanagh: “A classic premise with a paranoid protagonist and juicy suspects”, Tammy Cohen: “Another masterclass in heart-in-mouth suspense” and Lucy Clarke: “Deeply addictive, dark and so, so twisty”.
‘Sleep’ follows the life of protagonist Anna, who moves to the Scottish isle of Rum after experiencing a life-changing accident. She takes up a job in the isle’s hotel, and seven guests arrive to attend a walking tour. But strange things begin to happen, and it soon becomes clear that one of them is a killer…
The narrative is split into 3 parts: Part One is told from the first-person perspective of Anna and the third-person perspectives of Mohammed and Steve; in Part Two the third-person perspectives of Alex, Trevor and Dani are introduced; and in Part Three the first-person perspective of Christine and the third-person perspective of Katie are introduced. Throughout all parts of the novel, there are also diary entries from an unnamed narrator. The novel begins before the accident, and then moves forwards in time to after the accident. The narrative structure is fairly complex, but is still fairly easy to follow in my opinion.
Anna is my favourite character in the novel. At the beginning of the story, she is the victim of an unfortunate accident, and she feels guilty and responsible for her colleagues who also experienced the accident. She suffers with anxiety and flashbacks to the accident, and moves away to a remote Scottish island in order to escape her troubles and start afresh. She’s a kind-hearted, lovely character, who is haunted by the demons of her past. She takes up a job at the island’s hotel, and is keen to immerse herself into her new life. Ultimately, she deserves to be happy, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her. She’s very believable and realistic, but is also deeply flawed.
There isn’t really another “main” character in the novel in my opinion, instead there’s a relatively small cast of characters that all play an equal part – so next I’m going to talk about the characters from Anna’s “old” life. Anna’s ex-boyfriend Alex is cold-hearted and selfish, and instead of supporting her after the accident, he decides it will be best for them to part ways. He quickly moves on with his life, giving little consideration to Anna after their two-year relationship. Anna’s colleague Mohammed is left physically crippled by the accident, and he struggles to adjust to his new disability. Although physically separated from Anna, he plays a key part in the novel.
The guests staying at the hotel are as follows: Joe Armstrong (a mysterious character who is very difficult to read), Christine Cuttle (an old, retired nurse), Fiona Gardiner (a heart-broken young woman whose relationship has recently ended), Trevor Morgan (a mentally ill character who is suffering from the after effects of war), Malcolm and Melanie Ward (married couple whose relationship is extremely rocky) and Katie Ward (a teenage carer who is Malcolm and Melanie’s niece).
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The novel contains repeated references to a serious car crash, in which some of the victims were killed. The novel explores explicit references to physical injuries obtained in the crash, and the court case regarding dangerous driving. The theme of mental illness is explored in the novel, specifically anxiety and PTSD. Finally, the novel contains some scenes that detail emotional and physical abuse. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity, but if any may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, strange things begin to happen in the hotel. The guests become stranded after a vicious storm, and are unable to get in contact with the outside world. It soon becomes clear that there’s a killer on the island, and they won’t stop until they get what they want…
So, let’s talk about the ending! There’s a huge twist and the killer is revealed, but is it too late? There’s a dramatic end scene and Anna must fight for her life. I was physically glued to the pages – I couldn’t stop reading! The ending was dramatic, twisty and shocking, and I was totally hooked. I was really satisfied with the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly.
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you like claustrophobic, tense thrillers. I did really like this book, although not quite as much as C.L. Taylor’s other psychological thrillers. This kind of story/premise doesn’t excite me that much anymore as I feel it’s been done many times before – but I can definitely appreciate that it’s probably one of the best!
Happy reading 🙂