Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter, by Karen Dionne

The Marsh King's DaughterThe Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately, I’ve been reading a little more suspense/thriller. ‘The Marsh King’s Daughter’ is the most recent book in this genre to catch my attention. It certainly lived up to my expectations for a creepy, edge of my seat story.

The story centers on Helena, a woman with a secret past. While she lives her “normal” life as a mother, occupied with mundane daily issues, there is far more going on beneath the surface. She is always looking over her shoulder, never quite able to settle down or rest easy.

What Helena hasn’t told anyone is that her father is the notorious “Marsh King”. He abducted her mother when she was a young girl, holding her captive for many years and forcing her to be his wife. Helena is a product of her mother’s abuse at the hands of her abductor.

Of course, Helena did not know this for much of her youth. She was raised in a cabin in an isolated marsh. She grew up hunting and learning to survive off of the land. Truth be told, she loved it. She didn’t know of any other way.

Looking back, she can see that her childhood wasn’t without hardship. Her father’s rule was supreme. If she or her mother dared to cross him, they were punished swiftly and harshly. As a child, she didn’t have a basis for comparison. Now, it is clear to her that his actions were abusive.

Helena has long since come to terms with the fact that her father is a narcissistic psychopath. Everything in their lives revolved around keeping him happy. They lived in constant fear of setting him off, knowing that he could turn into a cruel, sadistic monster with the flip of a switch.

When Helena receives word that her father has escaped from prison, she has no doubt that he will be coming for her. After all, she knows that she was to blame for his eventual arrest. A man like her father doesn’t forget and he doesn’t forgive.

Her worst fears are proved true when a series of gruesome clues begins to pile up. It seems that her father is taunting her and trying to draw her back into a game that they used to play when she was little…only this time, she is hunting him. Sometimes, the hunter becomes the hunted though.

As Helena trekked through the wilderness in search of her father, I had chills. An eerie feeling pervaded this story from start to finish. All I can say is that it was creepy…very creepy.

Despite my enjoyment, I have to admit that I had a difficult time connecting with Helena. I admired her strength and the fact that she stood out from other heroines. However, I couldn’t really relate to her much. It made it a little more difficult for me to connect with the story, but eventually I did.

Once this story got warmed up, it had my complete attention. As Helena’s past was revealed through flashbacks, I began to piece together the entirety of the her life’s story. Her father, who seemed harmless at first, was gradually shown to be a truly cruel man as the violence he bestowed upon his family increased over the years.

This was a great book. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I was listening. There is something to be said for a book that can still make you want to check under your bed for monsters. If you’re in the mood for something creepy and disconcerting, this is the one.

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Review: Evelyn, After, by Victoria Helen Stone

Evelyn, AfterEvelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not exactly sure that I’d categorize this story as a Psychological Thriller, but ‘Evelyn, After’ definitely had a few twists and turns along the way. It managed to hold my attention somewhat, but I never felt a strong connection to any of the characters. I listened to the Audible version, and while it was very well-narrated, I couldn’t help but feel that it was missing something.

This is the story of Evelyn, a woman that has traded the better part of her life to do “what’s expected” of her. She’s the wife of a prominent psychiatrist and the mother of their teenage son. Somewhere along the way, she lost her own identity. Her entire being is defined by the interests of her husband and son. She does everything a dutiful wife should do, volunteering at the school and helping with PTA fundraisers. She is living a cliché.

To the surprise of no one except Evelyn, her husband is having an affair. Gary, the prestigious psychiatrist, is involved in an accident one night…but he isn’t alone. It seems that Evelyn’s douchebag husband has been sleeping with one of his patients.

To make matters worse, Gary has the audacity to call his wife out to help him on the side of the road while he has his patient/mistress with him! Then, when Evelyn confronts him about it, he has the nerve to get indignant with her like she’s imagining things. To say the least, Gary was easy to hate right from the start.

Eventually, Evelyn gets pieces of the truth from Gary. It doesn’t take long for Evelyn to discover that the “accident” was far more than it seemed at first glance. Gary’s actions have thrown her entire world into chaos. Evelyn is faced with a huge ethical dilemma as she weighs the risk of losing her comfortable lifestyle against the merits of telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Evelyn becomes obsessed with the pretty blonde patient that warmed her husband’s bed. What begins as a little online stalking, quickly gets out of hand. Before long, Evelyn has interjected herself into the life of Juliette Whitman.

While I wanted to feel a connection with Evelyn, it never happened. Mostly, I just pitied her. Here was a woman that was stuck in a trap of her own making, more concerned with her country club image than doing anything to change her circumstances. She was perfectly content to play the victim, all while turning a blind eye to everything going on around her. As a heroine, she came off as weak and rather pathetic.

In the end, there was a twist or two that I didn’t see coming. That being said, they weren’t particularly shocking or exciting. This ended up being an “okay” story for me. It wasn’t terrible, but it lacked that special something that makes a story stand out.

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Review: The Risk (Mindf*ck Series, #1), by S. T. Abby

The Risk (Mindf*ck Series #1)The Risk by S.T. Abby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy hell! This book was fantastic! I had never heard of S. T. Abby before now, but she has blown me away with this book. This is one twisted and fascinating story. I will be one-clicking her releases from this point forward.

The first in a series of five serials, ‘The Risk’ was suspenseful and utterly addicting. I could not put this super short book down. Once you’ve finished the first one, you’re going to want to delve into the next book immediately. Luckily, the entire series has been released, so you don’t have to live with the anxious anticipation for long.

Logan Bennett is a very successful FBI criminal profiler. His team is the FBI’s “dream team” of sorts. They get assigned the toughest cases, tracking down and capturing the country’s worst murderers. He is the quintessential “good guy” and a real-life hero.

Lana Myers is his polar opposite. Her life experiences have taught her that good does not always prevail. She is no longer a young girl with illusions of a criminal justice system that is fair and just. She knows all to well that there is true evil in this world. She has no qualms about handing out her own special brand of justice to those that she deems deserving of punishment. I can’t say that I disagreed either. Lana is quite possibly one of my favorite leading female characters ever…and she’s a serial killer!

When Logan and Lana cross paths, sparks fly immediately. One chance meeting at a coffee shop sets a chain of events in motion that will change the lives of these two forever. I was completely glued to this story. I knew that things were bound to get really ugly, but I couldn’t tear myself away.

Lana knows that the last thing she should ever do is pursue a romantic relationship with an FBI profiler. However, she just can’t deny herself the happiness that she feels with Logan. For his part, Logan is completely clueless about Lana’s true identity or what she does when she’s away from him. He has no idea that the serial killer he’s been hunting is actually warming his bed at night.

From start to finish, I could not pull myself away from this story. Despite being polar opposites, S. T. Abby managed to make both Logan and Lana characters that were endearing. I loved them both, even as I feared the heartache that I know has to be looming in the distance.

This story was dark, twisted and thrilling. This first serial ended with a big cliffhanger, that had me jumping into the next one immediately. I was blown away by this story.

If you’re a fan of dark, suspenseful stories that will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time, then you need to read this series. The first book is free, so you’re not losing anything if you don’t like it. If you’re like me, you won’t even want to come up for air until you’ve read all five. This series was phenomenal!

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Review: Behind Closed Doors, by B. A. Paris

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! This was certainly one creepy and screwed up story. I expected it to be really messed up, but not in quite the way that it was. A pervasive sense of uneasiness stayed with me the entire time that I was reading this book. Creepy…Very creepy.

The book opens with a dinner party at Jack and Grace’s home. Jack is a successful attorney, well-known for advocating for battered women. Grace is the soft-spoken, elegant wife. Everything about their life seems to be the picture of perfection.

It is all a lie. What goes on behind closed doors would shock their friends and the community. Nothing is what it seems. Jack is not the man that everyone thinks he is. Only Grace seems to be aware of his true nature and she is racing against the clock to stop him before he does worse than he already has.

This story kept me on the edge of my seat right up to the very last word. There was no time wasted and the story moved quickly. It was a nice change of pace for me.

I was appalled by some of the things that Jack did in this book. Yet, it was the anticipation and the fear of the unknown that was most chilling. Unlike other books dealing with abuse and sociopaths, ‘Behind Closed Doors’ did not provide a lot of graphic, gory details. Instead, the author chooses to give you just enough information to piece things together for yourself and leaves the rest to your imagination. If your mind is like mine, it can go to some pretty disturbing places when lead down that path.

There were several times that I did want to shake Grace. Mainly, I couldn’t understand how quickly she seemed to submit to Jack’s will. Although, seeing how things worked out for her on the few occasions when she did try to get away did help to convince me. It was unbelievable that Jack could wield so much influence, but it worked for the storyline I suppose.

Overall, this was a fantastic, fast-paced story. I listened to the Audible version and the narration was great. I highly recommend this standalone for anyone that loves a suspenseful, psychological thriller but cannot stomach the gory details. If you can keep your imagination under control, the author doesn’t provide any horrendous details that will leave you scarred. You will definitely be creeped out though. Count on that.

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Review: Bad Mommy, by Tarryn Fisher

Bad MommyBad Mommy by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! I just finished ‘Bad Mommy’ last night and I’m still trying to process everything I read. This is one of those stories that will leave you questioning exactly WTF you just read. As much as I enjoyed this book – and I did enjoy it – I am so glad to have gotten off of that crazy train! One more hour in the mind of Fig Coxbury and I’m sure the craziness would’ve rubbed off on me.

As many others have pointed out, including Tarryn Fisher, this story has a ‘Single White Female’ meets ‘Fatal Attraction’ feel to it. Although, ‘The Hand that Rocks the Cradle’ is the movie that stands out in my mind, if we’re throwing out movie comparisons. Remember that one? Creepy stuff.

In any case, Fig Coxbury is one seriously crazy lady. There is no disguising the fact that this woman is certifiable. Nutso. Bonkers. Cray-cray. You get the picture. This lady was 100% looney tunes.

Fig sees Jolene Avery and her daughter, Mercy, at the park one day and becomes obsessed. She convinces herself that Mercy is the reincarnated soul of the baby that she miscarried years ago. Fig begins stalking Jolene, going so far as to purchase the house next door to her when it goes up for sale.

Jolene has the life that Fig thinks she deserves. In her mind, Jolene has her daughter and the “perfect” husband, Darius. Fig befriends Jolene and slowly infiltrates every aspect of her life. She hangs out with her friends, invites herself over during family time and shows a complete disregard for normal boundaries and socially acceptable behaviors. If Jolene buys something, so does Fig. It is very, very creepy.

Although Fig’s feelings toward Jolene bounced back and forth between resentment, envy and admiration, somewhere along the way her actions become more laced with malice. She is no longer satisfied to be the friend in the shadows. She wants everything that Jolene has and she begins actively plotting to get what she wants.

At first, I was enjoying the novelty of Fig’s craziness. I kept thinking that Fig was the perfect mate for crazy Joe from Caroline Kepnes’s ‘You’. She was like the female version of Joe with her crazy rationalizations and her stalker behaviors. However, just like Joe, crazy gets old.

After a while, I was irritated with the bat-shit crazy thought processes that made up Fig’s inner monologue. Luckily, about the time that I had had all I could take of her insanity, the POV changed. It happened rather abruptly and I didn’t see it coming, but I was grateful. If the story had continued in Fig’s POV, I’m not sure I could’ve handled it. Ms. Fisher did a great job of impressing upon me the craziness of the situation and taking me right to the brink of what I could handle, and then changing it up before I lost interest.

Darius’ POV is presented next. Surprisingly, he was just as crazy as Fig! I knew this guy was kind of a douche, but the depths of his betrayal was shocking. His duplicitous nature was a complete surprise to me.

Finally, Jolene’s POV is provided. Although all of the narrators were unreliable, Jolene was the only one that didn’t exude craziness. My heart went out to her. She had invited a whole lot of crazy into her life and paid the price. Move away Jolene — far, far away. Change your name. Live off the grid. Hide!

All in all, I enjoyed this trip to crazy town quite a bit. It was definitely a unique and unexpected reading experience. I don’t think I could handle reading too many stories like this in a row, but it provided a nice change of pace. And that ending – creepy. I hope it was a joke. Creepy. Very creepy.

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Review: Pretty Girls, by Karin Slaughter

Pretty GirlsPretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! This was one dark and disturbing story. I love dark reads, but this was pretty gruesome for me at times. I was at the edge of my seat from start to finish with this one. I even had nightmares about this book. As I start to write this review, just thinking about it is giving me the chills. It was just that messed up.

When Claire Scott is widowed by her wealthy, seemingly perfect husband, she is left to pick up the pieces. With the FBI and the local police showing a suspiciously high interest in her husband’s murder, and the subsequent break-in at their home, Claire does not know what to think. When she stumbles upon some computer files of her husband’s, she begins to question the very foundation of her marriage and what she really knew about the man she married.

From beginning to end, this book was full of twist and turns. Everyone was a suspect at some point and you never knew who you could trust. As Claire partnered up with her estranged sister, Lydia, to try and sort through the clues her husband inadvertently left behind, the truth seems to become less and less clear.

Claire’s husband, Paul, was not who he said he was. He had secrets…big secrets. The more the sisters unearth, the greater the danger. They can’t turn back, but they don’t know where to turn for help either.

At the center of this book is a string of missing teenaged/college-aged girls, including Claire and Lydia’s own sister, Julia. Unsolved disappearances with undeniable commonalities, which all somehow connect back to Paul. Everything is not as it seems though. Claire begins to suspect that there is involvement at the highest levels, protecting those responsible for these horrible crimes.

If you like psychological suspense/thrillers, then this is a great story. Be forewarned, this book is very graphic and downright gory. It contains detailed descriptions of barbaric torture, sexual assault and murder. The sick and twisted actions of this serial killer are not left to the imagination. If you cannot handle the graphic descriptions of torture, then this is not a book for you. I’m a big fan of dark stories and it gave me a nightmare or two.

Overall, I thought that it was a fantastic story. It was suspenseful and kept me in a hyper-vigilant state until every question had been answered. I had chills while listening to this story. This has got to be one of the most screwed up, disturbing stories that I’ve “read”.

I listened to the Audible version of this book and it was great. The narration was well-done. I found it to be an excellent audiobook selection that was easy to follow. The mood and emotions were conveyed clearly, which is sometimes hard to come by in an audiobook. I could almost touch the fear and the anxiety in “Claire’s” voice. Kudos to the narrator(s).

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Review: Shatter Me (The Jaded, #1), by Alex Grayson

Shatter Me (The Jaded, #1)Shatter Me by Alex Grayson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This story was upsetting, raw and gritty. I personally love darker stories, but the harrowing account of abuse that Bailey survived was difficult to read about. One particularly graphic scene toward the end required me to take a “time out”, which almost never happens for me.

Essentially, this is a story about a young woman, Bailey, that is on the run from her abusive husband. With little more than the clothes on her back, she moves from town to town, picking up whatever work she can in order to keep her moving. She’s learned the risk of staying in one place too long the hard way. It’s a mistake she doesn’t plan to make again.

When Bailey finds herself in a small town in Ohio, she is immediately welcomed by the town’s friendly residents. Making friends with the waitress she met almost immediately upon her arrival, she is soon hooked up with a job and a place to stay. For the first time in her life, Bailey begins to feel like she might have found a place to fit, where somebody actually cares about her.

After a childhood filled with neglect and abuse while her druggie parents turned a blind eye, and a horrifying marriage, Bailey has some serious self-worth issues. When her new boss, Jaxon, and a variety of other townsfolk take an active interest in her, Bailey is overwhelmed with the support and sense of security she feels. Although she continues to look over her shoulder, she allows herself a bit of a reprieve. She begins to explore her feelings for Jax, even though she doubts she will ever be able to have a “normal” relationship with any man.

If Bailey’s husband, Steven, was the epitome of a monster, then Jax was the quintessential knight in shining armor. Quickly sensing Bailey’s troubled past, Jax steps into the role of protector. If you love a strong Alpha-male, Jax is your guy.

Although his actions were a bit over-the-top and there was a strong “insta-love” vibe, I absolutely loved his character. As the story unfolds, there are events in Jax’s past that explain many of his early actions that seemed over-zealous at the time. He has his own ghosts that haunt him and Bailey’s situation brought it back to the surface.

As a heroine, Bailey was someone that I both pitied and admired. If anyone had ever been dealt a bad hand in life, it was her. She had never known anything other than abuse in her life. She endured things that nobody should ever have to, both as a child and as an adult. Yet, she was strong and resilient. She showed such courage and fight, despite everything that she’d endured.

While I was very much absorbed in Bailey’s story, there were some things that drove me crazy with this book. There were many times that I found myself skimming, because I was overwhelmed with unnecessary details that didn’t add value. It was very frustrating to be on the edge of my seat wondering when Bailey’s psycho husband was going to pop out of the shadows, only to have the suspense derailed by detailed descriptions of every room in a house that went on for pages, etc. I really didn’t need to know the color of the decor or detailed descriptions of what everyone was wearing, so on and so forth. All of the unnecessary details were distracting and took away from the story.

I also had some reservations about the way things played out toward the end. I guess that it is “technically” a HEA, but I wasn’t left feeling very happy. Bailey and Jax get a future together, but that is where the happy ends. I’ll just say that it didn’t work out so well for everybody else and I was left feeling gutted.

Despite my reservations, I thought this was a great story. It was heartbreaking and difficult to read, but all of the best books make you feel things, whether you want to or not. This book will definitely elicit an emotional response.

That being said, take the disclaimer seriously. There are graphic descriptions of abuse, physical, psychological and sexual, contained in this book. There is an abundance of dark material in this book. Although it isn’t gratuitous, in my opinion, it is definitely not for the faint of heart.

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Review: The Butterfly Garden (The Collector Trilogy, #1), by Dot Hutchison

The Butterfly GardenThe Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! This was one of the creepiest stories that I’ve read in a long time. It was just so damn sick that I can’t wrap my mind around it. This one was disturbing and bizarre, but I loved it!

This story is told from the POV of Maya, a young woman that has just been rescued from a serial killer, and the FBI agents that are interrogating her. Maya refuses to be rushed as she recounts her tale, to the utter frustration of the agents. The story alternates between the past and present, as Maya provides the horrifying details of her abduction and captivity.

While this type of storytelling, with frequent flashbacks, often seems disruptive and disjointed to me, it really worked for this story. In fact, I’m not sure that I would’ve enjoyed the story if it hadn’t been broken up between the past and present. Too much time in the garden all at once might have been too much to handle. Regardless, I think that the way this story was told, gradually revealing the secrets of the garden, was brilliant.

Maya, along with several other girls, lived for years in captivity. They were abducted by a man they refer to only as “The Gardener” and kept as living “butterflies” in a fully enclosed “garden”. The Gardener is, not surprisingly, one very sick individual. He repeatedly rapes the girls and eventually murders them, preserving their bodies in glass cases. Yet, he has convinced himself that he has “saved” these girls and that he has somehow honored them in death.

As if The Gardener weren’t enough to handle, he has two sons. Avery, is feared by all of the girls. He is sadistic and cruel, taking pleasure in the suffering of the butterflies. Like his father, he is one sick individual. The younger son is less violent, but disturbed in his own way. While Avery relishes the taboo activities that take place in the garden, his younger brother struggles with the brutal reality.

Despite the dark nature of this story, I did not find the abuse to be incredibly graphic or detailed. It is clear that the girls are repeatedly raped and abused, but most of the details are left to readers’ imagination. Believe me, the details of the abuse are not required. More effort was put into describing the aftermath of the abuse, describing the physical effects of the abuse rather than the actual incidents, giving a pretty clear picture of what transpired.

Since most of the girls are taken as teenagers, child abuse is clearly a prevalent theme. Toward the end of the book there is one particularly disturbing account of abuse that is especially difficult to read. If these are topics that you cannot handle, then you might want to reconsider reading this book.

Although the scenario painted in this book is possible, it is very implausible. This is the type of story where you have to be willing to overlook some of the details that are highly unlikely. I questioned many things, as I listened to Maya’s account of her captivity.

For example, there are around 20 girls between 16 and 21 years of age. Yet, they never try to fight back or gang up on any of the 3 guys, even though they are usually alone and unarmed. Okay, maybe they’re just so damn broken and conditioned that they wouldn’t even try.

Then there’s the fact that the police search the grounds at one point, but never even go into this huge “garden” within a garden. How exactly do you make a structure with 20+ bedrooms and an indoor atrium with water features completely disappear? I don’t buy it.

I won’t give away the ending, but I will say that it was a bit too convenient for me. I didn’t think that the “connection” made was necessary at all. It was just one more thing that was too hard to swallow for me.

That being said, I very much enjoyed this story. It was dark, disturbing and creepy as hell. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, waiting to see how Maya and the others came to be rescued as I took in the horrifying account of their time in captivity. It was fascinating and brilliantly told.

I listened to the Audible version of the book and the narration was pretty good. I liked the female narrator more than the male narrator, but since his parts were fewer it was not a big factor for me. Overall, it was a great book.

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Review: Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2), by Ker Dukey and K. Webster

Pretty Lost Dolls (Pretty Stolen Dolls, #2)Pretty Lost Dolls by Ker Dukey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Pretty Lost Dolls’ picks up right where ‘Pretty Stolen Dolls’ left off. Jade is once again at the mercy of Benny, aka Benjamin. She is reliving her worst nightmare. Only, this time around Benny hasn’t taken a young, passive girl. He’s taken a grown woman that has spent years training to take him down and he will have a fight on his hands.

Much light is shed on Benny’s past, making him a far more human character. There’s no question that he’s crazy. However, his story called to me and I found myself feeling sorry for the boy that grew into a monster. Poor Benny. My heart broke for him, even as I knew that there was no redemption for him.

Jade is reunited with Macy, but finds that she’s no longer the sweet little sister that she left behind. Her time as Benny’s captive has irrevocably changed her for the worse. All of Jade’s hopes of rescuing the sister that she left behind are turned upside down as she realizes that Macy may be worse than Benny. He’s turned her into a monster, just like him.

I also found myself growing even more fond of Dillon. He may have started off as a jerk, but he really proves himself to be a stand-up guy in this book. He is unfailingly loyal to Jade, even when his own life, and the lives of his loved ones, are placed in danger.

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It was dark and oh so twisted. Where book one hinted at Benny’s depravity, this book will submerse you in his disturbing world. I was equal parts terrified and curious to see what would happen with each flip of a page.

This was a fantastic, dark read. If you love dark, suspenseful stories that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, then this is a great choice. If you are the type of individual that is triggered by abuse, sexual assault, or diabolical psychos, then steer clear. This is the type of book that will give you nightmares…and I loved every minute!

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Review: All Is Not Forgotten, by Wendy Walker

All Is Not ForgottenAll Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first saw the reviews for ‘All Is Not Forgotten’ start to pop up on friends’ pages, I was intrigued. It sounded like exactly the type of story that I would love. It was dark, suspenseful and a total mindf*ck. Everyone that read this book seemed to love it.

I knew it would be my next read, so I went to Amazon.com and that’s when it happened–I saw the atrocious price of $12.99 for the Kindle edition! Yep, you read that right. Not $2.99 or $1.99, but a whopping $12.99! So, I said “to hell with that” and picked another book to read. After all, this author was a complete unknown to me and even bestselling authors that I know I can count on to deliver generally don’t charge more than $5.99 for a Kindle edition, with very rare exception.

Maybe I’m a cheapo, but the price tag on this book was a huge deterrent…no matter how much the blurb and the reviews called to me. (Granted, most of my friends who wrote these early reviews had received ARCs and didn’t purchase this book at it’s over-inflated price.) It is really a shame too, because I know that many readers feel the same way and this book deserves to be read. I’m no marketing guru, but I’d bet that this book would top the charts and be much more profitable if offered at a more reasonable price.

Now that I’ve gotten my rant about the ridiculously high price out of the way, let me say that it was worth every penny. Months later, I continued to hear about this book. I couldn’t quit wondering about it and kept coming back to it. Eventually, being the book addict that I am, I caved and bought it. I don’t regret it for a minute, but I also know that I am an obsessive reader and most people would have walked away and never given it another thought. That makes me very sad, because this story was phenomenal.

‘All Is Not Forgotten’ tells the story of a teenaged girl, Jenny Kramer, whose innocence is stolen in the most brutal of ways. She is tortured and raped when she steps outside to clear her head, just yards away from a raging house party. Readers are immediately confronted with Jenny’s traumatic experience, Ms. Walker not wasting any time or holding back any punches.

The entire story is told from the POV of Dr. Alan Forrester, as he recounts his encounters with the various cast members that were tied into this story. You see, Dr. Forrester became the Psychiatrist that treated Jenny, as well as her parents. He helped them, both collaboratively and separately, heal following Jenny’s assault. In addition, Dr. Forrester was tied, both personally and through his professional practice, to many other characters that prove to be integral to the story.

Although it took a little getting used to at first, looking back now, I couldn’t have imagined the story told in any other way. No other character had such an expansive knowledge of Jenny’s case, or could have connected the dots like Dr. Forrester did. Ms. Walker did a masterful job of writing this story. It was absolutely brilliant!

In the hours immediately following Jenny’s rape, her parents are forced to make a very tough decision. They are given the option to “treat” Jenny with an experimental medication, which would suppress her memories of her attack. The drug, designed to prevent PTSD in soldiers, creates a type of amnesia. The theory is that if the patient can’t remember the traumatic event, they won’t suffer the negative psychological effects that follow the trauma.

Jenny’s father, Tom, opposes the treatment. He wants Jenny’s rapist brought to justice and realizes that this is unlikely if she cannot remember the attack. Jenny’s mother, Charolette, wants to pretend that nothing ever happened and move on with their lives. She sees the treatment as the easiest way to make that happen.

In the end, as the more dominant person in their marriage, Charolette wins out. It is a decision that has consequences that nobody could have anticipated. Some events are too horrific to be entirely erased. They leave their mark, even if the person living with it doesn’t even know it. Such is the case with Jenny, who spirals into depression after the treatment.

I don’t want to give too much away, because this is a story that needs to be experienced. I will say that it is a story about far more than just rape, although that is clearly a crucial component of this story. It is a story about the connections that people make over the course of their lives, some healthy and some unhealthy, and the lengths that they will go to in order to maintain those connections. It is also a story of a parent’s love and how good people will do terrible things if necessary to protect their offspring.

Every character became a suspect, but the truth was not revealed until the very end. Every time I thought I knew where something was heading, I’d be surprised. Let me just say that it blew me away! I could not believe how twisted the truth really was. I didn’t see it coming at all.

I found this story to be multifaceted and absolutely riveting. From the first page to the last, I could not pull myself away from this book. I thought about it for days after finishing it. It is the type of story that becomes all-consuming.

Even though this book comes with a hefty price tag, I highly recommend it. It is worth every penny. This book was mind-blowing! It is easily one of my top-reads for the year and a new favorite of mine. I cannot do it justice. Just, read it!

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