It begins, they say, with a woman screaming…
On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.
For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: night-time intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched.
The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand and all-too-real – but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?
Gothic and creepy this story has all the components of a gripping, intense psychological thriller; the unreliable protagonist, the lines between imagination and reality blurred and a cast of characters, any of whom could be the antagonist. Where it differs is its quirky, supernatural content, which I loved. Combined with a vivid, gothic setting it introduces an added dimension into the plot, increasing the tension and drawing the reader into a living nightmare of past and present.
Zoe’s arrival on the island is shrouded in mystery, is she running away from a dominating husband or trying to escape herself and her secrets? The village appears friendly and gossipy, as you imagine living in a small community would be, but the house she is renting has a tragic past, but is this fact or fable? Everyone has an opinion but whose can she trust?
There is a disturbing, sexual thread to this story that increases the menace and brings Zoe’s state of mind into question. The sensual scenes are well written, but the implicit threat to Zoe’s safety gives them an ominous quality.
The story is fast-paced and packed with detail, its an exciting plot and each page bring the reader closer to the truth that when finally revealed is even more terrible than any gothic horror story.
Realistic and often sinister characters, an intense plot in a dramatic, unforgiving island setting make ‘While You Sleep’, a psychological thriller with a gothic twist, a thought-provoking, page-turning read.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins UK, Harper Fiction via NetGalley in return for an honest review.