by Stephanie Kuehn
To be published by St. Martin's Press
on June 23, 2014
Source: Thanks to St. Martin's for allowing me to read an advance copy through NetGalley
Synopsis adapted from Goodreads: Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Jamie Henry breathed a sigh of relief when a judge sentenced his older sister to juvenile detention for burning down their neighbor’s fancy horse barn. The whole town did. Because Crazy Cate Henry used to be a nice girl. Until she did a lot of bad things. Like drinking. And stealing. And lying. Like playing weird mind games in the woods with other children. Like making sure she always got her way. Or else. But today Cate got out. And now she’s coming back for Jamie.
My take: Eeeeeeep. I just re-read that synopsis and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Full disclosure: I edited the synopsis and kept it on a need-to-know basis, because when you're reading a psychological thrillers the less about the book you know going in the better. In the course of my review, I promise to keep you in the dark as much as possible -- mwah-ha-ha....
If you read Stephanie Kuehn's debut novel, Charm and Strange, you know that she's a talented writer who is a master at creating a creepy and suspenseful mood and keeping readers guessing until the very last page. Like like Charm and Strange, Complicit is narrated by a teenage boy who has some stuff to deal with, for lack of a better explanation. Jamie is still suffering the consequences of his tough childhood. He's since been adopted by a well-off and well-meaning couple whose own children died. Jamie's a shaky, vulnerable mess, barely holding it together and just trying to get through every day. Then he gets the news: his scary sister Cate is baaaaaack.
Jamie was such a sympathetic character -- he struggles so much to control all his fears and anxieties. Anxiety is an exhausting thing, and I really felt his inner struggle. He's like a wobbly little baby bird, trying to fly and then you see this dark shadow looming overhead -- a hungry bird of prey -- ahhhh!!!
That's all I want to say about the plot. In order to preserve suspense, I'll just turn to the general things I love about the book.
I love Stephanie Kuehn's writing. You read the first few sentences of her books and just know that you can relax, that you're in talented and confident hands. She does the whole "teenage guy against the world" POV that I've loved from Holden Caulfield on and does it really, really well.
To me, good suspense writing is all about understatement, and this book is a fantastic example of that. The best writers do the minimum and cleverly get you to scare yourself. As I was reading, I was just wriggling in my chair, not even knowing what to be afraid of -- I just knew that I was scared...
The twists and turns
I did guess some of these, but I wasn't sure if I was right or not, right up until the end.
If you love suspenseful books, books that mess with your mind and make you question what you think is going on, definitely put Complicit on your list!
I'm so keen to read this!! I actually thought it was a sequel to Charm and Strange...but it's not, right?! Either way I JUST got my hands on Charm & Strange and I'm squeeing with happiness. XD XD I love thrillers and the more startling the better. I'm not reading the synopsis for this one though, just in case. ;)ReplyDelete
I so can't wait tor read this book. I read Charm and Strange and loved loved loved it. I am so happy to hear this book is another masterpeice and I can expect the same writing, twists, and suspense. great review.ReplyDelete
The writing and suspense sounds amazing, and I need to give this one a try especially with the goosebump synopsis.ReplyDelete
This sounds awesome, I love psychological thrillers. I haven't heard of this author before but I'll definitely make sure to check it out :-).ReplyDelete
I'm excited to read this one too. I hadn't planned on it, but after receiving the package in the mail I decided I definitely need to. I think I'll read Charm & Strange first though, which was also in the package. :) I'm glad you enjoyed it!ReplyDelete
This is actually the second time I'm hearing of this one in recent weeks. Apparently it's really terrifying?? I love scary stories but sometimes when I read at night my overactive imagination gets the best of me. :(ReplyDelete
Ahh! I need to pick this one up! I love the whole suspense aspect of the whole novel and I definitely need a read like this. I've been reading so much contemporaries lately! Great review :)ReplyDelete
Patrick @ The Bookshelves
I really enjoyed CHARM & STRANGE so it looks like I'll have to check this one out! If you like psychological thrillers, have you read THE HALF LIFE OF MOLLY PIERCE? I just reviewed it on the blog. Enjoyable and really surprising, though not the best one out there. However, it deals with subject content that I've never come across before, so that was super interesting.ReplyDelete
Adding this to my list!!ReplyDelete
I really need to read this book because i've read so many great reviews for this one and it seems like EVERYONE has something good to say about it! AHHHHH <3 Plus i love psychological thrillers and anything with suspense! Great review!ReplyDelete
First off, I'm curiously attracted to the cover. And that's not something I admit quite freely. Second, as much as mystery books tend to frustrate me, you made such a huge case for this one. Great review, Jen.ReplyDelete
I've been looking for a good suspenseful book, thanks for sharing!ReplyDelete
YAYYYY!!! I love suspenseful books! What a great review! Cannot wait to read it :)ReplyDelete
Just added this to my TBR list- it sounds soo wonderfully creepy and I can't wait to read it. I can't believe I've never heard of this book before! Thanks for the review and the heads up!ReplyDelete
I loved this one too!!! Kuehn can write some amazing thriller type books! Great review..ReplyDelete
Hmmm...I mean, I wanted to read this, but now I REALLY want to read this. ;) I'm all about the understated psychological thriller. I hate when I'm able to guess every twist and turn. :(ReplyDelete
I agree that knowing as little as possible going into these psychological stories is preferable - thanks for keeping this review spoiler free and editing the synopsis. Can't wait to read this!ReplyDelete
YAAAY! I'm so happy that you loved this Jen. I agree that the writing was just sublime. It was wonderful, and felt very relaxing despite being on edge at the same time. Does that even make sense?? What did you think of the ending by the way? Were you surprised when he threw IT to the fire? It was so cruel and I felt like all that search was for nothing but it only goes to show how extreme Jamie's character was!ReplyDelete
Faye at The Social Potato
I'm so glad you loved this one. I don't know if I could take it, but if it's written well and not too gory then I may give it a try.ReplyDelete
Ooooooooooooh, I want to read this!ReplyDelete
And I already have a prediction.ReplyDelete