Published by HarperCollins on May 19th 2015
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Psychological, Suspense, Thrillers
ARC provided by TLC Book Tours
What if you realized the terrifying book you were reading was all about you?
A brilliantly conceived, deeply disturbing psychological thriller about a woman haunted by secrets—and the price she will pay for concealing the truth.
When a mysterious novel appears at Catherine Ravenscroft's bedside, she is curious. She has no idea who might have sent her The Perfect Stranger—or how it ended up on her nightstand. At first, she is intrigued by the suspenseful story that unfolds.
And then she realizes.
This isn't fiction.
The Perfect Stranger re-creates in vivid, unmistakable detail the day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew—and that person is dead.
Now that the past Catherine so desperately wants to forget is catching up with her, her world is falling apart. Plunged into a living nightmare, she knows that her only hope is to confront what really happened on that terrible day . . . even if the shocking truth may destroy her.
This book messed with my head a little bit. The concept is frightening. Disclaimer explores what would happen if you found a book in your home that was about you, that told your deepest secret. This book also explored the lengths some people could go to exact revenge on an enemy. It left me wondering how far I would go in either position.
Catherine is enjoying some time off work as a documentary filmmaker to get settled into her new home. Her only child has just moved out and she and her husband are enjoying their new found freedom. She finds a book called The Perfect Stranger in her new home and starts to read it. The book is telling Catherine her own story, the one she desperately wants to forget ever happened. The disclaimer in the beginning of The Perfect Stranger stating this is a work of fiction has been scratched out. This is her story written by someone else. When she discovers that the author has sent the book not only to her, but also to her son to read, she gets really scared. This secret could destroy everything for her.
This story is told in two POVs, one of Catherine and the other of the author of the book The Perfect Stranger. We learn about Catherine and the author a little at a time. In the beginning, the author, a lonely widower turned author, just seems out to destroy poor Catherine. As the story unfolds, we see that Catherine is not necessarily the victim. What if she had it coming? The protagonist in the The Perfect Stranger dies, that might be Catherine’s fate. According to the story, she did have it coming. Maybe this widower is right to seek revenge. The blame shifts from person to person throughout the story as we, the reader, are given scraps of information about The Perfect Stranger and the events within it.
This story also jumped back and forth through time. Everything is labeled for the reader, and I wasn’t left confused by this at all, surprisingly. The thing is that we get things that Catherine remembered and then we get things that the author of The Perfect Stranger wrote. These two POVs are very different, so that kept me wondering. It is a brilliant the way the Renée Knight built this memory up for the reader to interpret.
I am really struggling with how I feel about this book. On the one hand, Disclaimer dragged in the beginning. I felt nothing for the characters to begin with and that carried on for the first few chapters. I really didn’t care about their secrets until about 1/3 of the way through. It is hard to want to read a book when everyone is the villain. The beginning of this story really keeps readers in the dark. There is a secret, but no one says what it is. No one is being honest in this story. Everyone looks guilty.
One the other hand, the premise of this story is very intriguing. What if the book you were reading revealed your deepest darkest secret? What if the book in your hand revealed something you have tried for years to forget? Also, by half way through this book I couldn’t put this book down. Once I got over the hump, I really wanted to find out the truth and got really irritated that my “life” kept me from reading straight through to the conclusion.
So this was tough for me to rate. I ended up enjoying the book a lot more then I thought I would. If you pick this book up, I recommend you stick it out. Keep in mind that this is a thriller, and can’t give you all the good feels of a more safe genre.
About the Author
Renée Knight worked for the BBC directing arts documentaries and has had TV and film scripts commissioned by the BBC, Channel Four, and Capital Films. In April 2013, she graduated from the Faber Academy “Writing a Novel” course, whose alumni include S. J. Watson. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
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