Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Maybe love is waiting at the end of every room: EMMA IN THE NIGHT.

Emma in the NightEmma in the Night by Wendy Walker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cassandra Tanner and her sister, Emma, disappeared on the same night three years ago. Cass was fifteen and her lovely, enigmatic older sister seventeen. Suddenly, Cass shows up on her mother's doorstep, desperately begging her family to find Emma, whom she claims is being against her will on a remote island in Maine. Immediately, the FBI is called back to the case, including forensic psychiatrist Abby Winter, who has been haunted by the investigation since Emma and Cass went missing. Abby had a lot of theories about Emma and Cass' case--and saw similarities in their mother to her own--but kept most of these thoughts to herself. But now that Cass is back, with a story that doesn't completely add up, Abby realizes she might not be so off track after all. And that there might be a lot more to Emma and Cass' disappearance then everyone thinks.

This book is a tough one for me. It started off in great fashion--completely sucking me in. It's an interesting novel, as in some ways it seems like a rather straightforward tale of two missing girls, but it's also incredibly puzzling and keeps you guessing from the start. I think my brow was probably actually furrowed as I was reading. It's hard to trust anyone in this novel, or know who to believe, and that has you frantically turning pages, trying to figure out what on earth is the actual truth.

The story flips between Cass' point of view and that of Abby's. I was intrigued by Cass' story, though not particularly attached to her and while I sympathized with Abby, wasn't really drawn to her as a character, either. I actually sort of wanted to rush through her sections so I could get back to Cass and what was actually happening (or had happened) to her, and by proxy, Emma.

Make no mistake--the Tanner/Martin family saga is a twisted one. This book will shock and bewilder you--this is not a nice set of characters. Emma and Cass' mother is hateful and downright despicable, as are many of the supporting characters. Even Emma--via stories--is tough to care for at times. The premise is that Ms. Martin, the mother, has narcissistic personality disorder--the same disorder that affected Abby's mother as well. At first, this works, as you're shocked by the treatment of Emma and Cass and what it's done to each girl.

But, admittedly, after a while, I grew a little weary of this plot device. The disorder and its effects are explained repeatedly. If Walker could have explained it and moved on, I would have enjoyed the novel a lot more. I found myself skimming over some of the repetitive psychological descriptions, so I could get on with the story. As the story continues, the family almost seems too fractured and horrible; I was shocked at the continuing tale of horror regarding her mother, stepfather, stepbrother, and sister that Cass kept weaving. Goodness--they come across as diabolical, but not real.

I actually really enjoyed Walker's previous novel, ALL IS NOT FORGOTTEN - particularly because the ending lived up to the earlier parts of the novel and shocked me. Here, I am pretty sure the intent was the same, but it didn't quite pan out. By the time we reached the end, I was tired of the psychological drama and ramblings. I hadn't exactly figured out what had happened--I'll definitely give Walker that--but I knew something was up. I also felt so much of all of this could have been avoided from the start by Cass, but I won't go into that for spoilers sake.

So, alas. As I started this one, I really thought it was going to be a novel that I was going to recommend to everyone. By the end, I was a bit let down. I'll go with 3 stars overall, since it certainly did keep me flipping the pages.

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and Netgalley (thank you!); it is available everywhere as of 08/08/2017.

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