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I read this with the intention of seeing if it would be a good comp for my upcoming domestic thriller (it is!), and I was not disappointed. If you’ve ever known someone in an abusive situation and wondered why they don’t “just leave,” this will answer that question. Manipulation is a tricky thing, and the antagonist has it down to an art.
Chevy Stevens intricately weaves together the present and the past, jumping between times with ease. The main character, Lindsey, is trying to move on with her life after a very troublesome past. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was abusive both mentally and physically, even though at first, he was the sweetest and most thoughtful guy she knew. After their wedding, he plays on her kindness and naïvety, turning her good qualities into weaknesses that he can exploit. She struggles with the love she feels for him and the fear that grows over time, blaming herself for the things he punishes her for.
I really connected with Lindsey and her thoughts, questions and confusion because Stevens presents her character so well. She goes from a happy, bubbly young woman to a fearful and confused housewife who is desperate to protect herself, and more importantly, their daughter, Sophie, from Andrew’s increasingly abusive behaviour. We see the lengths she will go to get away from him. The story is well-crafted and believable. An unexpected twist occurs when their plan of escape is played out.
The story jumps into present day. Sophie’s point of view is introduced now that she’s older. We get to explore her thoughts on the twists and turns that begin to happen when Andrew is released from a ten year stint in jail. At this time, she begins her first real relationship with Jared, both seniors in high school, as if her mother doesn’t have enough to worry about. As Lindsey begins to feel the insecurity that was bound to happen when Andrew is released from prison, she turns to Marcus, a friend she made who teaches self-defence to battered women.
Stevens does an excellent job introducing characters along the way, all of whom you will suspect, at one point or another, are at the root of Lindsey’s paranoia. The end had me like 😱
If you like psychological/domestic thrillers, you should read Never Let You Go. It’ll take you deep into the terrifying realities of being stuck in an abusive relationship. You’ll also be immersed in the paranoia that comes after leaving.
You can follow Chevy Stevens on Twitter @ChevyStevens and on Instagram @chevystevens.