Wednesday, August 9, 2017

ARC Review: Emma in the Night

Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source: Giveaway Win from Publisher

From the bestselling author of All Is Not Forgotten comes a thriller about two missing sisters, a twisted family, and what happens when one girl comes back...

One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

My Review

When I first started Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker, I knew I was in for a different kind of book. First of all, the novel is a thriller, and while I typically don't read thrillers, I do like them from time-to-time, especially around Halloween or when I grow tired of contemporary novels. That excited me - to try something different and just see how it worked. I also realized way before I picked it up that it wasn't quite Young Adult, but I thought that it would appeal to many YA readers. After reading this thriller, I'm glad to say that my hunch was right, and I'm sure I'll be reading more of Ms. Walker's books in the future.

Three years ago, sisters Emma and Cass Tanner disappeared from their million-dollar home and lifestyle. The obvious questions were brought up - Did they run away? Were they kidnapped? - but no one was able to find a trace of the girls until three years later when the now eighteen-year-old Cass knocks on her mother's door one morning. Immediately, the investigation begins again, with the FBI on the case within minutes. As Dr. Abby Winter listens to Cass' story of what happened that night and during the years after, she starts to get the sense that something isn't quite right. She thinks it's up to her to use memories from her childhood to unravel the mysterious case.

Told from two different perspectives in alternating chapters, Emma in the Night is a book that I'm sure will reach readers of all ages.

One of the narrators is Cass Tanner. She's just returned from being missing for three years, and boy does she have a story to tell. When the FBI arrives at her mother's house, they start asking Cass to explain what happened the night that they disappeared. Cass begins by telling bits of the story, and for most of the novel, her story is out of order, leaving Dr. Abby Winter to piece together the timeline of events. While Cass' story is not difficult to follow, it is sometimes difficult to believe, meaning that readers (and Dr. Winter) are questioning Cass' reliability.

The other narrator of the book is an omniscient narrator, but this narrator just focuses on what Abby is going through during the novel. Readers are able to see how she's feeling during the investigation, and they're also able to see what she's thinking while Cass is telling the story of the disappearance. Readers are also able to see how events from Abby's childhood make her see this case differently than most of the other agents on the case. She has a personal connection to it that makes her question everything going on in the Martin/Tanner family.

What I really liked about Emma in the Night is that the book didn't seem forced. Everything in the book from the plot to the lies to the mental health issues just felt real. Nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, and this seems like something that could really happen. I also liked how Ms. Walker chose to organize the book. Cass doesn't recall the events of her disappearance chronologically, but I think it makes the book a little more special. It's almost like the reader is a detective, trying to piece everything together.

Emma in the Night is technically a general fiction book, but I really think that this book is one that will reach readers of all types. While it does read like a general fiction book, parts of it, especially the chapters where Cass recalls what happened, read like a Young Adult book. Because of this, I think Emma in the Night would be a great book for Young Adult fans who are looking to explore more genres and read more adult books. It's like getting the best of both worlds.

All in all, Emma in the Night is an amazing book. I don't want to spoil too much, but I think readers will appreciate all the different elements - a dystfunctional family, mental health disorders, crime, etc. - in the novel. There are plenty of moments that will really make readers question if they are reading things correctly, but all reveals itself in the end, which will satisfy anyone looking for a good family drama.

Wendy Walker is a former attorney and investment banker in Fairfield County, Connecticut who began writing while at home raising her three sons. Her debut thriller, All Is Not Forgotten, has become an international bestseller and was optioned for film by Warner Brothers with Reese Witherspoon set to produce. Emma In The Night is her second thriller.

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