Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Teresa Driscoll’s debut psychological thriller, ‘I Am Watching You’. I had no idea if I was going to enjoy this book going into it, but I ended up loving it! Keep reading to discover my thoughts…
What would it take to make you intervene?
When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.
A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.
Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.
Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Explores the theme of child/teenage abduction in great detail. Physical violence and murder is a central theme to the novel. Mental illness, including suicide, is explored throughout the novel, particularly with relation to feelings of guilt and trauma. Domestic violence is also referenced within the novel, with regards to both physical and emotional abuse. Sex is also included in the novel, including the notion of slut-shaming.
‘I Am Watching You’ (2017) is Teresa Driscoll’s debut psychological thriller novel, followed by ‘The Friend’ (2018), ‘The Promise’ (February 2019) and ‘I Will Make You Pay’ (October 2019). Driscoll has previously written women’s fiction, before turning to psychological thrillers. During her career as a journalist, she worked for newspapers, magazines and television, spending 15 years presenting the BBC TV news programme Spotlight. Driscoll now lives in Devon with her family.
The book has received positive praise, from the likes of India Today: “perhaps one of the best psychological thrillers released this year…” and an Amazon reviewer: “right up there with the best thriller writers of today.”
‘I Am Watching You’ tells the story of Ella Longfield, a witness that is wracked with guilt for not intervening in a crime, and Anna Ballard’s family (the missing girl). One year later, when Anna’s anniversary appeal is televised, it soon becomes clear that Anna’s friends and family have not been telling the truth about her disappearance. Who is responsible for Anna’s disappearance? What really happened to her?
The narrative is told from the perspectives of ‘The Witness’ (Ella), ‘The Father’ (Henry), ‘The Friend’ (Sarah) and ‘The Private Investigator’ (Matthew). Ella’s narrative is told via the first-person, whereas all other characters are narrated in the third-person. This gives the reader a detailed, in-depth insight to the thoughts and feelings of multiple characters, as well as providing a distanced account of the events. There are also some chapters narrated by an unknown character, who is “watching” Ella. The narrative is relatively simple to follow, yet still very effective.
My favourite character in the novel is Ella. When on a train, Ella overhears a troubling conversation between two young girls and two older men who are “flirting” with them. But after being disgusted by the young girls’ behaviours, she chooses not to intervene, and the next day one of the girls is reported missing. Ella is overcome with guilt and emotion at not protecting these girls and choosing not to get involved, and she feels wholly responsible for Anna’s fate. When the anniversary appeal is released, Ella decides to take matters into her own hands and discover what really happened to Anna that night. Although I didn’t really relate to Ella particularly and I disagreed with some of her choices, I still felt that she was a very well-written, realistic character, and she reminded me of people I know personally.
Anna’s best friend, Sarah, also feels a great deal of responsibility for her friend’s disappearance. She has not been completely honest about the events that happened that night, and is terrified that somebody will discover the truth in the wake of the TV appeal. Sarah is very emotionally fragile and disturbed, and goes to extreme lengths in order to keep her secret buried deep down. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards Sarah, and found myself really relating to her.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** The theme of child/teenage abduction is the central theme to the novel, and is therefore explored in great detail. Many disturbing details about the crime are revealed as the police work to find out what happened to Anna. Physical violence, including murder, is also detailed within the novel. The theme of mental illness is explored throughout the novel, with scenes describing two separate suicide attempts. Guilt and trauma is key to the story, and so we discover the disturbed emotional states of multiple characters. Domestic violence is also referenced within the novel, with regards to both physical and emotional abuse. Finally, scenes of sex are included within the novel, and the notion of slut-shaming is also explored, as well as infidelity. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that any may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, the truth about Anna’s disappearance becomes more muddled than ever. We are fed small bites of information, before the tables are turned and an entirely different character acts with suspicion. Suspense and tension dramatically increase, as the reader attempts to solve the mystery of Anna’s disappearance. Will we ever find out what really happened?
So, let’s talk about the ending. The ending was okay, but I have to admit that I expected much more. We finally find out who was responsible for Anna’s disappearance, and I certainly never suspected this character. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced by this resolution, and I found myself feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. The ending let the book down, and for that reason I awarded this book 4 stars instead of the full 5.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you enjoy reading narratives from multiple characters. The book is full of suspense and tension, and I was hooked from start to finish. As stated above, the ending let the book down for me overall which was a real shame, but in summary I still really enjoyed the story. A very good read!
Happy reading 🙂