#57 Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.

One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.

Hardback | 339 pages

Publisher:

Read: 24th July – 28th July

Target Audience: Adult, Thriller.

I found the blurb both haunting and interesting. This was a ‘must have’ for me. I haven’t been reading a lot of dark thrillers recently, so I thought it was about time I dipped my feet back into the waters. From the first couple of chapters I can tell that this book is a really, REALLY, dark and twisted book. I’m already very invested in the main character but I think this will be a book that I’ll read in segments rather than all at once.

Very easy to read, the problem is stopping my imagination from running wild when I’m not reading the book.

The cast of characters in this book were so prominent and compelling. I was driven by the story of each character like a fly in a spider’s web and I was almost anxious to find out what had really happened.

Jasmine – I definitely felt the most sympathetic towards Jasmine, as she was the character, I felt I got to know the best. It was very obvious that for the most part she was suffering from PTSD but that she was also partially in denial about all that had happened to her. I found her compelling and reading from her POV was almost addictive, like a drug. I felt a lot of compassion for her and felt that her trials and tribulations felt very real and raw.

I worried for Jasmine’s safety and for the state of her mind throughout the story because it was clear that she was struggling to find her identity again since being released from the grasp of ‘Lena’. Considering what she went through I think she coped fairly well in the aftermath of her escape. I could see how muddled her mind was and how trapped she felt in the real world.

Jasmine became the path to finding out what really happened, and I clung onto her as I read through the book. She became a lynchpin for me, and I couldn’t tear myself away from her side of the story.

Hannah – At the beginning, Hannah creeped me out. I found her hard to read and suspicious. It was hard to connect to her character and view her with unbiased eyes. It also creeped me out that her name was Hannah, as mine is, because she wasn’t the victim, I’d expected her to be.

I got less suspicious of Hannah the more I read on and realised just what conditioning had been done to her while growing up. I started to see her as more of a victim who didn’t know any better, rather than someone to be weary of.

Lena – Was the suspicion throughout the whole book. What did happen to her? Her presence was felt even when she wasn’t being focused on and there was a great mystery created around her as the story wove on.

At times, it was almost too vivid, the book is heavy on its ability to draw the reader in and this was partly why I read the book in parts, but I had no problem in reading it.

This book presents a really chilling and dark story about a survivor of abuse and a thirteen-year-old missing person case. Although I figured early on that this book would be a dark one, I was excited to read because this type of book is what I enjoy reading as the narrative is usually too complex and intwined for me to figure out the ending. (Unlike ‘cosy crimes’ or ‘traditional detective crimes’ which I find all too easy to figure out.)

Part of the joy of this book was looking at all the characters singularly and wondering which one of them was the guilty culprit. It was an ongoing tension that strung the book together and led me down many avenues that I explored as time passed in the book. Books that present the guilty party as a ‘surprise character’ or a ‘barely mentioned character’, look like a cheat to me. Those kinds of books read to me, like the author didn’t know how to end to book.

I was surprised with the ending, of course I was, but it didn’t go the way I had expected. I wasn’t happy with who the guilty culprit turned out to be but if I reveal exactly what disappointed me, it might spoil the reading of the book should you chose to read it yourself.

Overall, this book thrilled me, chilled me, and overwhelmed me. It’s translated from German, and I was relieved to see that it still packed a punch and that there wasn’t a loss in the translation process.

This was a 5 out of 5 read for me. It was a very well thought out book with every part detailed in perfect accuracy. The different POVs did get a little confusing at times, especially trying to separate Jasmine from Lena but something about the chaotic nature of the POVs just made me want to read more and discover more about the underlying mystery. I’d recommend this book to friends who enjoy dark thrillers, it’s original and compelling and will make a crazy amount of questions bounce around your head.

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