A compelling thriller…
Banting examines bullying, childhood trauma, and mental illness in his latest psychological thriller. As a shy child and awkward teen, Jess has always found it difficult to fit in, becoming a target of the bullies. Her parents’ early separation, her mother’s unhinged nature, and father’s complete abandonment further add to the trauma. Now in her late thirties, Jess is a loner, working a low-paying job and severely disillusioned and bitter. Trying to get even with the bullies, Jess embarks on a journey of revenge and madness. When she meets Brandy, a young and lovely college student, Jess is immediately drawn to her. But the only way Jess knows how to make Brandy her own is to kidnap the young woman, unaware they share much more than it seems on the surface. There are multiple third-person narratives, with some of the chapters in Jess’s first-person voice, adding to the intrigue. Timelines that alternate among the present and past, both recent and decades ago, add tension and depth to the intricate story that touches on the subjects of bad parenting, psychological abuse, long-lasting trauma, family and sibling bonds, and relationships. Banting weaves in a thorough police investigation, investigative journalism, a series of arson incidents, kidnapping, and plenty of twists to keep readers guessing. The fast-paced narrative prompts the quick page turn. The plot is one-dimensional, but Banting adds enough intrigues and surprising revelations to keep the reader invested, and the characters, both major and minor, are vivid and sympathetic. Jess’s unhinged nature is frankly explored, permitting Banting to highlight different sides of childhood trauma, bullying, and emotional abuse. At the same time, it allows readers into the head of a troubled woman struggling with severe mental illness. Although the story revolves around Jess, it’s Brandy who shines all the way through. Nathan doesn’t get much space in the story but leaves an impression nonetheless. Garett as a father is utterly realistic and relatable. Laura is compelling and so is the self-pitying Lorraine. The novel is concerned with how childhood trauma and long-term bullying twist a person’s psyche who is already struggling from some form of mental illness. There’s a tantalizingly thin line between hatred and mental sickness here. Mistaking one for the other is easy. This compelling exploration of childhood and teenage bullying, mental sickness, pain, grief, family, love, understanding, and compassion makes for a page-turning read.
By Don Banting
Price $18.00 CAD
Categories: Suspense and Thriller