When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.
The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.
No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.
Review: If you’ve been somewhat awake for the past few months, chances are you’ve seen The Escape floating around and people raving about it left, right and centre. C.L Taylor is a hit with book bloggers and readers alike for her gripping thrillers but silly ol’ me over here had never read one before. I had originally bought this book for my mum for Mother’s day (and Cally very kindly sent me some signed stuff to go with it) but as she was reading something else, I thought it would be a good chance for me to give it a go and finally see what all the fuss is about with these books.
The Escape is about a woman named Jo who has a young daughter, Elise and suffers from anxiety and agoraphobia. Her relationship with her husband is strained, due to her mental problems and after miscarrying a child years before, her step-dad is extremely ill and her mother refuses to speak about her childhood and her real dad. Jo’s life takes a turn when one morning, a woman called Paula asks her for a lift but upon entering her car, she very chillingly pulls out one of her daughter’s gloves and tells her she should make sure she looks after her daughter.
From then on, things continue to happen to put Jo on edge, even more so than she is already. The house is ransacked, she’s arrested on suspicion of drug possession after the police find drugs in her home which aren’t hers and her marriage is over as she learns she can’t trust anyone. She flees the country, goes into hiding and goes back to her childhood town in Ireland, where she stays in a B&B with a landlady who has secrets of her own. All she wants to do is keep Elise safe and out of danger. But who is the actual danger?
Okay, I’ve been a bit apprehensive to review this as quite frankly, I don’t want to offend the 107 5 star reviewers on Amazon but… Let’s start with the basics, as gripping and immersing reading goes, this probably gets 12 out of 10. You will honestly fly through this as that’s just how the writing goes. There is no question to C.L Taylor’s writing abilities here and I could not fault the way she makes you keep turning and turning and turning those pages until your fingers ache. It’s tense and claustrophobic and pulls you right in.
The actual storyline was where my problem lies. There’s nothing wrong with the story; I personally found the book to be in 2 very clear cut halves, with the first half shocking me and sending shivers down my spine and the second half, well, not. The more I knew, the less shocked I was. I wasn’t expecting the “twist” but I wasn’t particularly… gobsmacked by it. What I’m saying is that I was a little underwhelmed with where things went, after such a promising and exciting start to the novel. I always say that I’m rarely shocked by things in books and this is one of those perfect examples.
I also found everything that was going on to be a bit, “bitty”. Which I know really isn’t a word and it’s hard to explain like, the book didn’t really focus on one or two things, I felt like I was here there and everywhere with Paula, her husbands job, her mental health issues, her mum, her step-dad, the landlady, the landlady’s tragic past and whilst at the end, most of it does all fit into the bigger picture somewhere, I couldn’t help but feel some of it was unnecessary and really didn’t add a whole lot of depth to the story.
Overall, I just felt the storyline fell a bit flat and wasn’t as deep and compelling as I had hoped. I also had a problem with how unlikeable Jo was and although I felt for her with her mental health problems she was facing and clearly struggling so much with, she was so frantic and all over the place throughout the entire novel I just wanted to scream at her to stop and slow down. She made me dizzy. But it was important how the author shows that agoraphobia isn’t just one clear cut, ‘you can’t leave your house and that’s that‘, which so many people assume.
I’m going to leave it there because this review is a tad on the long side now but really, I was a bit disappointed with some elements of the book but the writing style and the way the author grabs you would not deter me from picking up the author’s previous books and giving them a try.