Book Review - The Widow by Valerie Keogh
Grieving or guilty?
When Allison’s wealthy and charming husband Peter is found dead, she appears distraught, devastated….delighted?
Because despite an apparently picture-perfect marriage, Allison knows it was all built on a bed of lies.
And as the truth regarding Peter’s life and death are revealed, Alison must try to keep her own dark past buried.
Because if Peter was keeping secrets, then his widow is too…
What was it all about
The Widow was a delightful concept of a thriller where a woman lost her husband on the railway tracks suddenly found herself befriended by two women at different points of time who had their own agenda.
As seen in the blurb, hints of the past were mentioned in the prose as sections in italics, which did capture the mind to imagine the worst. There was a hint of suspense in it. After all, nobody would be called a monster if they were not.
This was a book where the characters were supposed to be weird. So that box was checked.
They were supposed to be bad and ruthless. I would say a light check to this box
They were supposed to develop over the pages, oh my, they hopped all over the place instead of being smoothly grown.
The characters moved back and forth as with the subplots, but they didn’t really need to do that. So why did they? Maybe it was to keep readers feel like they were dealing with unreliable characters. Maybe it was all me, but the book failed to give me that aura.
If the book had been divided into three novellas, then the subplots would have worked for me. I would have been thrilled to be surrounded by the suspense that all three ladies brought to the story.
But put all of them in one plot – why would someone be so hotchpotch in their suspense board. Yes, I felt all thriller authors should keep a board where they marked in certain key points of the story so that reviewers like me didn’t murder the story. Hahaha did you see what I did there? A very poor atttempt to get some kind of joviality into the review.
I generally didn’t care much for worldbuilding as long as the characters were anchored in space, time, and few lines of place. But, oh boy, this book definitely needed more descriptions.
The ladies said the setting of the house was quite old-fashioned and nondescript, but for the life of me, I couldn’t visualize it as none of the rooms of the house had been detailed. So everything became too generalized and even the change of setting didn’t give me the feel that I would be able to visualize it clearly.
The style of writing - The Prose
The beginning felt to be like how a thriller ought to go. I had the doom set in my heart, waiting for the widow to darken – a.k.a. the back widow. So I liked how the author stringed the words in this book.
But then the lines became quite inane where different drama of scenes which didn’t mesh with each other was written in.
Minor spoiler alert: A scene of sex trafficking torture was written in but that didn’t go with the plot line of the widow and what the blurb indicated. The torture was written well, with emotions of desperation and end-of-the-rope kinda feeling but seriously, why was the widow made to go through this scorcher? No idea. Creativity of the author and her editor.
The writing made the widow go deliberately dark, when I liked her in different shades of gray. The prose kept me hoping and swinging like a pendulum. When suddenly the darkness was thrust on to me, my head was swaying like a pendulum. No no no no no
Even the rapids and continuity over the boulders and shores, but the scenes here didn’t feel as if they did.
How it made me feel - The Good
I really, really wanted to love the book, but I managed to keep to the borderlines of enjoying the story, because it had hints of an impending danger, with a hidden past and a feeling that there was something more at play.
The suspense was initially felt in the twists when facets and actions of the widow were revealed like one layer of the onion at a time, making me want to sit at the edge of my seat. Rather I wanted to read the book at one go.
The pace was fast, though not at a single go, I managed to get through it on my two timelines – breakfast and midnight. So I would say it was an easy paced read.
What I didn't like - The Bad
The blurb hinted that there was something more at play in the story, which unfortunately, wasn’t the case here. The husband was quite non-specific and didn’t have much role to play.
The story concentrated on the other two women, and you would think that was a good thing, but again, it started getting a tinge of women’s fiction genre with emotions of camaraderie and friendship with one woman. And in the case of the other one, the story seemed so unrelated to the entire lives of the both women.
While reading, the thrill was almost gone and even the hint of supense was diluted because it felt as if three snapshots of a thriller were joined together as one.
As per the norm, the last chapter gave the extra twist, but by the time I reached the end, it was almost expected as that was the trend going on these days. Did I like the twist? I would have to say – I knew that was coming – but it also felt forced. So my answer would be Nah!!
But that could be all me. My expectations were quite high with this author, maybe I should go into all my books, desiring for nothing.
A okay-ish story, I would give it a borderline 2.5 since it had the potential to be explosive.
It was kinda halfway there, but it killed me with boredom.
But then again, all books were not for everyone. You might just like the amalgamation of three storylines.
Do I recommend this book?
If you have nothing to read and were open to going into the book with minimal expectations, then of course, go for it. The author has written quite a few exciting thrillers.
But…a very big but…if you are anything like me, who likes thrillers to lead her into a dark world, filled with excitement where every ball was a sixer (cricket reference) then this book might not be for you.
I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.
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