3.5 star, adult

Review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Amazon.com: The Silent Patient (9781250301697): Michaelides, Alex: Books

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive.

“Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word…”

This story follows the criminal psychotherapist, Theo Faber, who has long waited for a chance to work with Alicia Berenson, to discover the truth behind her eternal silence, and her motivations for killing her husband. The plotline starts off innocuously as one might expect, we follow the point of view of Theo as he picks up his life to head to The Grove where Alicia is being treated. When he gets there, he discovers layers and layers of secrecy which he must unravel to find the real cause of Alicia’s silence and the truth of that fateful day. Occasionally letting us peer into Alicia’s diary in parallel to Theo’s point of view, Michaelides weaves an exciting tale, one that straps you down into the seat of the rollercoaster and doesn’t let go until the exciting finish.



3.5 Drink Me Potions


I found myself quite enthralled with the premise of this book. One of the main driving mysteries is the last painting that Alicia paints before she was locked away. It was titled Alcestis and is based on a Greek tragedy – a heroine of self-sacrifice. This is the narrative that is the key to unlocking Alicia Berenson. What on earth drove the painter to the point of murder? And how can it possibly be related to a heroine of self-sacrifice? Was it really possible for a move like murder to be altruistic in some way? This was one of the main questions I had throughout the whole book, driving me to read along, to find out what happened.

We quickly find out that Theo has issues of his own, a rough childhood with a tormenting father, and very keen to escape the shadows of the past. The novel really explores the theme of the past being an important precedent for the future. Many psychological and psychiatric themes are laid out in the many characters that are introduced. This also really tended to blur the boundary lines and create a type of moral ambiguity present in each character – how much can you blame a person for acting according to what their past has defined them to be? I found myself wonder what I’d be like in each of the character’s shoes, or how I would personally react to the same situations.

To be honest, I found some of the characters rather shallow and underdeveloped. A little bit inconsistent even, sometimes. That being said, it wasn’t badly written or anything like that. Some of the characters and actions just seemed a little bit unnecessary, or a bit out of place – this may have been to place red herrings for the readers, but I wasn’t completely convinced. This novel is kind of a hybrid between a thriller and a mystery, it has the setting of a murder mystery narrative but is also of course written in a first person POV that keeps us on our toes at every turn.

All that being said, I actually really enjoyed the ride! I’m also a sucker for Greek mythology, so that really rung true for me. If I think about the minor details and little twists and study them individually, I don’t find that I really appreciated the mall that much. However, if you are talking about the the holistic experience of a thriller “ride”, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Even if I was able to see the little twists that were coming up, I still felt like the way that it was written was very exciting for me, and the parallel chronological storylines particularly captured my attention. After all, I did finish this novel in one day!

Overall Recommendations:

The Silent Patient follows the deceivingly perfect life of Alicia Berenson and her descent into madness and murder, and how a psychotherapist comes to save her from her self-imposed silence. More and more secrets are revealed as Theo dives into Alicia’s past, uncovering her own troubled childhood, not unlike his own. And how does Alicia’s famous painting Alcestis tie into all this? This is a very exciting thriller from beginning to end – if you enjoy the uncovering of secrets and watching a puzzle come together, this is definitely one that you will enjoy!

4 star, adult

Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Image result for the turn of the keyWhen Rowan Caine stumbles across an ad for a live-in nanny post with a staggeringly generous salary, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss. And when she arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten – by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by the picture-perfect family who lives there.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke her up with booming music in the middle of the night and turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no other adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She’s not innocent, by any means. But she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Turn of the Key is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


4 Drink Me Potions


The Turn of the Key begins from the perspective of our protagonist, Rowan Caine, from a jail cell struggling to write to her lawyer about the events that transpired at the Heatherbrae House. Immediately we are thrown into a gloomy and suspenseful environment where the ending is all but certain. Even though we already know that our protagonist ends up behind bars, the whole suspense in this thriller novel is still kept up until the very end. Knowing how the story will end somehow makes the dread all the more suspenseful as we follow her through Heatherbrae House, fully aware that all is not as it seems, and behind every corner lurks yet another family secret.

This mystery follows the life of Rowan Caine (in the past), who takes up a new nannying job at Heatherbrae House, way out in Scotland. She sees the ad for a very generous salary, and quickly takes the interview for a chance at a new life. There, she meets the Elincourt family, living in their modern day fairytale dream of paramount technology, mixed in seamlessly with their ancient house and land. Though she receives some warning signs, she quickly brushes them off, confident that she can outlast the previous nannies and enjoy a comfortable life.

However, very quickly many things seem to go wrong. The house is mostly controlled by an app called Happy, which allows wireless and also voice control of many of the house’s appliances and amenities. While this is initially a delightful experience, Rowan quickly discovers that someone else seems to have more control than her over the house, even though she is the only adult there. Seemingly many “malfunctions” and mysterious events start happening, which Rowan is determined to stick through for the money, despite her growing anxiety.

Ware carefully builds each character in a way that makes them each simultaneously friendly yet also suspicious. Even the less likeable characters have their redeeming qualities, making it ever so difficult to guess who is really friend or foe. This builds up Rowan’s (and in turn ours) anxiety as the number of people she can trust dwindles, and the number of shady characters increases. So many inexplicable things happen to her while she is at Heatherbrae House, and it truly becomes her unending nightmare.

The whole novel has a very suspenseful feel to it, and even with some of the ending given away at the beginning, it is still impossible to tell for sure who is responsible during her journey there. Ware has even hidden one last crucial secret to be revealed at the climax of the story, which really brings all the carefully placed icicles of mystery come crashing down around Rowan. Once again, Ware has created an incredibly thrilling story with elements that will truly chill you to the bone.

Overall Recommendation:
If you are into the heavy psychological thriller type of story (like I am), you will definitely enjoy this novel. Ware has quickly become one of my favourite modern authors of such mysteries, as each story is so well written and really keeps me in suspense no matter how much I get used to her plots. Although the ending is not necessarily the ending I wanted to see, the whole journey was definitely a delightful(ly scary) experience, and I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys all the twists and turns of a psychological thriller!

4 star, adult

Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Image result for the death of mrs. westaway Harriet Westaway – better known as Hal – makes ends meet as a tarot reader, but she doesn’t believe in the power of her trade. If she did, what would the cards say about the choice that lies ahead of her?

When Hal receives a mysterious and unexpected letter bequeather her a substantial inheritance, she knows that it wasn’t meant for her because Mrs. Westaway is not her grandmother. Struggling with crippling debt, Hal is presented with a difficult choice: ignore the letter, or use her cold-reading skills to potentially claim the money and change her life.

After a loan sharks pays Hal a threatening visit, she decides to attend Mrs. Westaway’s funeral. she meets the family at Trepassen House, the Westaways’ country estate. Once there, Hal discovers more secrets than she could have ever imagined. There is something very, very wrong with this family, and somehow Hal and the inheritance are at the centre of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, The Death of Mrs. Westaway is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.


4 Drink Me Potions


Never believe your own lies.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway begins as an almost innocent backdrop of a story. Classic rich grandmother leaving behind a massive fortune in a dramatic reading of her final will. However, the story (and mystery) is so much more than what can be seen on the surface. Behind layers of lies and deceit lies the story of a girl who has never known family, struggling to find her place in a world which seemingly has no place for her.

This mystery follows the life of our protagonist, Harriet (aka Hal), who was born into a poor life and tries to make ends meet providing tarot-reading services on a pier. This is important, as the tarot cards become the crux upon which the story moves along. It is completely fascinating and enthralling, as the whole mystery is almost like a lengthy tarot card reading on its own. As the suspense unfolds, each path is laid forward by the explanation of a different card, and this really gave the whole story a mystical element. Even if you don’t believe in such things, Ware really gives it life in this number.

One for sorrow, Two for joy.

Hal was raised by a single mother, who tragically passed away in an accident when she was eighteen, leaving her an orphan. Forced to take up her mother’s role in tarot reading with no family to turn to, her life takes a surprising turn when she receives a letter indicating she is a beneficiary in Mrs. Westaway’s will. As her crippling debt comes catching up to her, she is forced to go to Trepassen to find out what is in store for her in the Westaway family.

Preparing herself to attend her “grandmother’s” funeral, she does not realize what she steps into when she arrives. Behind every member of the family seems to be another door, with secrets of their past hidden. While every mystery may be like this, instead of a murder mystery, this story revolves more around the secret of Hal’s past – just how is she linked to the Westaway family? And will she be caught in her own lies as she tries to take a piece of the Westaway fortune with her to repay her debts?

The whole novel has a very ethereal quality and an air of mystique. It is impossible not to follow along the signs the cards give, and the omens given in the magpies as we follow Hal down the dark alley of her past. The overarching theme of mysticism and cold-reading are beautifully woven into the story, and spellbinding really is the word to describe this page-turner of a suspense. Definitely an enjoyable read – full of mystery even without revolving around a murder.

Overall Recommendation:
If you are into mysteries at all, and the suspenseful writing of a whodunnit novel, this book is definitely for you. This story features a young adult fighting her way through thick and thin, with only her tarot cards and cold-reading skills to guide her through. While understandably the whole art of tarot may be met with skepticism (admittedly for me as well), this book definitely paints it in a different light. Additionally, it really was well woven into story and really was the propelling force of the whole suspense. I definitely recommend this one!