Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my review of Alex Lake’s compelling psychological thriller, ‘Seven Days’. I picked this up after being intrigued by the blurb – and I ended up really enjoying the book! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
A race against time to save her child…
In seven days, Maggie’s son, Max, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens; she loses her child.
For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Max, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her.
She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…
‘Seven Days’ (October 2019) is Alex Lake’s fifth novel, following on from ‘After Anna’ (2015), ‘Killing Kate’ (2016), ‘Copycat’ (2017) and ‘The Last Lie’ (2018). Since then, Lake has also written ‘The Choice’ (August 2020). Alex Lake is a British author who was born in the North West of England. The author now lives in Brunswick, Maine, USA.
The novel has received rave reviews, from the likes of Daily Mail: “This is creepy storytelling of the highest order”, Heat: “A superb read for suspense fans” and Woman’s Weekly: “Evocative writing and emotional rawness”. Fellow authors have also praised the book, such as Sam Carrington: “Great hook, fast-paced, fully engrossing. Don’t miss out – read it now!”.
‘Seven Days’ follows the lives of Maggie and her son Max. Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement for the last twelve years, and Max is her third child. Max turns three years old in seven days, and Maggie knows that her captor is soon going to take him away…
The narrative is told from the third-person perspectives of Maggie, James (Maggie’s brother), Martin (Maggie’s father), Sandra (Maggie’s mother) and DI Wynne (the detective investigating the case), with each chapter alternating between characters. There are four distinct consecutive narratives within the novel. The story begins in the present day: Saturday 16th June 2018, with seven days to go until Max’s third birthday. The novel also jumps back in time to 2006 (twelve years earlier when Maggie was abducted), 2010 (eight years earlier) and 2014 (four years earlier). I have to admit, the narrative is quite complex and can be difficult to follow at times – however, I did manage to keep up for the most part.
Maggie is definitely my favourite character. She was abducted by her evil captor at just fifteen years old and has been imprisoned in his basement ever since. Maggie has given birth to three sons in captivity, with each being “taken away” by her captor on their third birthday. Although Maggie fiercely loves all of her children, she is physically much weaker than her captor, and has not been able to save the two sons before Max. However, this time she is determined to put a stop to the pattern and not let her captor take Max from her. As you can probably image, Maggie has been subjected to a great deal of violence and suffering during her many years of imprisonment, and she has really struggled to carry on. But she’s a very strong-willed and determined character, and will do anything to keep her children safe. I felt many different emotions towards Maggie, and I found her to be truly inspirational.
Maggie’s brother James is another fantastically-written character. The disappearance of his sister twelve years ago has really hit him hard, and since that day he has never been the same. James has turned to drugs and drink, and he has truly lost his way. He has attempted to lead a “normal life” with healthy relationships, but the trauma over his lost sister is ultimately too much for him and he is really struggling with his mental health. James’ parents try to help him as much as they can, but he deliberately isolates himself and will not accept any intervention. I felt a great deal of sympathy towards James – I really wanted to just give him a hug and tell him that everything will be okay!
Maggie’s parents, Martin and Sandra, are understandably reeling from the loss of their daughter. Their marriage is severely tested and individually, they are both extremely vulnerable. Martin attempts to hold his remaining family together and be the rock that they all need – but he is really struggling in himself and cannot deal with the fact that somebody may have hurt his little girl. Even though they both have their own personal struggles, they never give up hope and are always thinking about their daughter.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel explores the theme of abduction and violence in great detail, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The reader is provided with all the grizzly details of Maggie’s abduction and imprisonment, and we gain a deep insight to her negative thoughts and feelings. The theme of rape is also explored throughout the novel, as Maggie’s captor forces himself upon her multiple times and impregnates her three times. Mental illness is another big theme running through the novel, as many of the characters struggle to cope with the loss of Maggie. Finally, the theme of substance abuse, particularly drug use and alcoholism, is detailed throughout the novel. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that they may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the present narrative motors onwards, it gets closer and closer to the date of Max’s birthday, and Maggie must formulate a plan to keep him safe. As the past narrative develops, we discover more about the family’s past and how they have all struggled to keep afloat. Will Maggie manage to escape? Or is Max doomed?
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a dramatic end scene in which Maggie must fight for survival and attempt to escape with Max. She puts both their lives in jeopardy as she carries out a cunning but risky escape plan. The scene is jam-packed full of action and suspense – I simply couldn’t tear my eyes away! I was really satisfied with the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly. I really don’t want to give anything away at all – I urge you to just read this book and discover for yourself!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you like reading books about abduction and imprisonment. I have to say that I do feel like this story has been told before, made apparent by Emma Donoghue’s Room; but that being said, there are enough elements within this novel that make it original and unique. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and will be recommending it to everybody I know!
Happy reading 🙂