Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.
Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.
Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.
It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.
EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.
BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .
Steven Harding is a handsome respected Literature professor, although I think he knows he is handsome. Ellie Masterson is a student, but she is in a relationship with Steven Harding.
Now they are getting away for full three days to themselves to celebrate having been together for 6 months, so a sort of anniversary celebration. Ellie has booked the place a nice secluded cabin in the woods in Chesapeake Bay, although there are no other homes within sight. Time away from all the noise and hustle and bustle of New York City. The perfect weekend break to relax. Or is it?
As the story begins Ellie and Steven’s relationship sounds perfect, he is even thinking for the first time in his life this is someone he could actually stay with. Steven’s father also a professor with lots of work published has always seemed to put his son down, as well as having lots of affairs with his students despite being married to Steven’s mum.
The story is told in the present but with flashbacks to the past. But the opening scenes are that of blue flashing lights outside the cabin and lots of blood on the inside. But who is injured, are they dead or alive, who? As you read the story you have no idea until the end what has actually gone on.
Told from two different points of view with alternating chapters most of the way through. How reliable are Steven and Ellie as narrators can we trust anything any of them say?
The tensions starts slowly but then over time it gradually starts to build as you learn the secrets. The suspense builds and builds keeping you the reader on the edge wondering what is happening.
As things start to unravel who will survive, anyone? Both of them? This is a very character driven story, for me I normally have to like at least one of the characters I need to be rooting for them. But I didn’t’ like either of these characters they are both flawed, but I had to keep reading because I just needed to know. I needed answers.
With a perfect pace, believable characters, the story definitely grips you and holds on to you until you turn those final pages. It’s very atmospheric and at times claustrophobic, the heavy snowfall, the surrounding trees looming outside the huge cabin glass windows, as both Steven and Ellie are used to the noise of the city, it means any noises they hear, are new to them, it’s not helped with the show falling fast outside. I had no idea which way this ending was going to go. But that’s the whole point, you need to be kept on the edge of your seat to keep on reading.
This is one great debut novel and certainly look forward to whatever the writer writes next. The storyline is very now and relevant. I loved how the writer uses all your senses within the story, the smells, the sounds, all aids to the tension building up. Especially as we learn more and more about the characters and the secrets they keep.
If you are looking for your next great Psychological thriller then give this one a go. You will be hooked from the start to the finish. Thank you to @MichaelJBooks for my gifted ARC of this book. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020) and FIVE :2:ONE. She has also been shortlisted for the 2018 and 2019 Bath Short Story Award, among others.