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Book Review: ‘Every Vow You Break’ by Peter Swanson

Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my publication day review of Peter Swanson’s latest thriller, ‘Every Vow You Break’. Happy publication day, Peter! I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC by Faber & Faber – thanks so much for the opportunity. So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…

Abigail Baskin never thought she’d fall in love with a millionaire. Then she met Bruce Lamb. He’s a good guy, stable, level-headed, kind–a refreshing twist from her previous relationships.

But right before the wedding, Abigail has a drunken one-night stand on her bachelorette weekend. She puts the incident–and the sexy guy who wouldn’t give her his real name–out of her mind, and now believes she wants to be with Bruce for the rest of her life.

Then the mysterious stranger suddenly appears–and Abigail’s future life and happiness are turned upside down. He insists that their passionate night was the beginning of something much, much more. Something special. Something real–and he’s tracked her down to prove it.

Does she tell Bruce and ruin their idyllic honeymoon–and possibly their marriage? Or should she handle this psychopathic stalker on her own? To make the situation worse, strange things begin to happen. She sees a terrified woman in the night shadows, and no one at the resort seems to believe anything is amiss… including her perfect new husband.

‘Every Vow You Break’ was published in paperback today (23rd March 2021) and is Swanson’s 8th novel, following on from ‘The Kind Worth Killing’ (2015), ‘The Girl With A Clock For A Heart’ (2016), ‘Her Every Fear’ (2017), ‘All The Beautiful Lies’ (2018), ‘Before She Knew Him’ (2019), ‘Rules For Perfect Murders’ (2020) and ‘Eight Perfect Murders’ (February 2021). Swanson graduated from Trinity College, the University of Massachusetts and Emerson College. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts with his wife and cat.

The novel has received positive praise from the likes of The Big Thrill: “A pulse-pounding not-so-happily-ever-after thriller”, Booklist: “The further we go into Swanson’s devilishly twisty tales, the moor hooks he sets” and O, The Oprah Magazine: “Hitchcockian thrills and chills abound in Swanson’s latest mystery, a twisty tale of survival and deception.” Fellow authors have also enjoyed the novel, such as Joe Hill: “Swanson is in the ranks of the killer elite alongside Tana French and Gillian Flynn. He’s the real deal” and Lisa Gardner: “Swanson rips us from one startling plot twist to the next.”

‘Every Vow You Break’ follows the life of Abigail Baskin, who is on her honeymoon with new millionaire husband Bruce Lamb. They are honeymooning at an exclusive retreat on Heart Pond Island, with some unwelcome guests and secrets also along for the ride…

The narrative is told from the third-person throughout, mainly focusing on Abigail. The reader is given an in-depth insight to her thoughts, feelings and emotions, as well as a distanced account of the events as they occur. The narrative is mainly told in the present tense, with some allusions to the past. Overall, the narrative is really easy to follow, yet still very effective.

Of course, Abigail is my favourite character in the novel. She is in love with her husband Bruce, who provides her with the stability and kindness that she has always wished for. But on her bachelorette party she made a huge mistake, engaging in a one-night stand with a stranger – a mistake that will certainly come back to haunt her. Abigail is a loving and caring wife who desperately wants to make her husband happy; but it soon becomes clear that she’s not all that perfect, and Abigail has a fair few skeletons lurking in her closet. Abigail is a very realistic, three-dimensional character, and I felt a great deal of sympathy towards her whilst reading.

Bruce is a successful millionaire who is obsessed with his work. He has some connections to the secluded retreat on Heart Pond Island and so chooses this as their honeymoon destination, with the intention of giving his wife the honeymoon she deserves. Bruce seems like a humble, kind man at first; but once you peel back the layers, you discover that he has a nasty streak and has the tendency to be hot-heated and irrational. Bruce loves his wife Abigail and will do everything he can to ensure that she remains loyal to him – even if that means putting her in dangerous situations. Bruce was another excellently-written character, and I enjoyed finding out more about him as the novel progressed.

** TRIGGER WARNING ** The theme of adultery and infidelity is explored throughout the novel, as Abigail struggles to hide her mistake from Bruce. The novel contains scenes of a sexual nature which some readers may find uncomfortable or distressing. The theme of domestic violence is explored throughout the novel, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Finally, the novel also includes some scenes describing a brutal murder. 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 narrative motors onwards, Abigail works to uncover the truth about her husband’s involvement on the island. She finds herself in a very dangerous situation on the isolated Heart Pond island, and must try everything she can to escape this honeymoon-from-hell. Will she manage to escape, before it’s too late?

So, let’s talk about the ending. Abigail finally discovers the truth about this strange island they inhabit, in the most astonishing way. There’s a dramatic end scene jam-packed full of action and suspense, and Abigail must fight for survival to protect herself and others from a very dangerous fate. My eyes were glued to the pages during the end scene, and I simply couldn’t tear myself away! I was really satisfied with the ending, and felt that it tied everything together brilliantly. A fantastic ending to a fantastic thriller!

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy psychological thrillers, particularly if you are interested in domestic-based thrillers or honeymoons gone wrong. With fantastically-written characters, an intriguing plot, plenty of mystery and suspense and a brilliant ending – what more could you want?! For me, this book lacked something and didn’t quite achieve the “wow” factor, meaning I awarded it 4.5 stars instead of 5. But that’s just me being extra critical, and so I would really urge you all to go out and buy this book.

Happy reading! 🙂

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