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.
Wow! Dark, immersive, intriguing, complex, and totally gripping. A smart new take on a story of a person held captive.
This book has a very dark start, so much so, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a book for me. However, I continued, and was so glad I did.
Told from the viewpoint of a number of extremely well written characters, the story begins with Lena, abducted, she has been held captive, in a cabin in the woods, along with her two children Hannah and Johnathan and their father, her captor. She has miraculously found a chance to escape, and running through the woods to the road, is hit by a car and badly injured.
The driver has called an ambulance. Lena is taken to hospital, along with her daughter. All they can get from Hannah are their names. Running a trace the police find a resemblance to a Lena Beck who went missing, after walking home from a party 13 years ago, and the detective who lead the missing persons case and her parents are called.
That is a brief re-cap and I will stop there, as so much of the wonder of reading this book is from it’s structure and the way the author uses the perspectives from each character to build, continuously throughout the story, tracing out not only what is happening now, since her escape, but also during the time of her captivity.
There is an element of concentration needed for this but with such a well written book as this, and brilliantly translated I must add here, it is an extremely clever and gripping read.
The characters are so well thought out. Raw, vulnerable, sinister and the description of the chapters taking place within the cabin are frighteningly vivid. The adults have that element of being totally believable yet always , at the edge of my mind, wondering if they could be trusted. Hannah, who is particularly well written, is damaged and vulnerable but also slightly scary too! This is a dark novel, but my investment in the characters and my need, to know how it ends, made me speed through this and I was utterly hooked. When the part in the book that made me chuckle was the young girl deciding on which of her red crayons to use to draw the body on the kitchen floor, highlights the nature of this read but it is also much more than that. A great thriller and a great study of people. Matthias’ obsessive and sometimes destructive hope in finding his daughter, after all these years. Lena’s behaviour towards her captor and the damage captivity has had on the children, who know no different, is a real study to read.
An intense thriller that gallops along taking you on one hell of a ride!
Dear Child is out in paperback in December and can be purchased from BookShop.org https://uk.bookshop.org/a/1882/9781529401431
and most independent book shops