At age 14 Lou Wandsworth runs away to France to be with Mike, a much older man who is her karate instructor. After escaping and trying to build up her life she returns to her home town at 32 to find that Mike is grooming another young girl – can she stop the past from repeating itself?
The Fear is a dark and twisted psychological thriller; it actually took me a while to read this book which I usually take as an indication that it will be given a low-star review but that was absolutely not the case with The Fear. It took me so long because this isn’t really a book to enjoy, it’s dark and disturbing and there were a few times I had to put it down to distract myself with something lighter for a few minutes – not something I often feel I need to do. The story is told through the perspectives of Lou, Mike’s ex-wife Wendy and the 13 year old Chloe who is Mike’s current victim – the characterisations were spot on and you really felt drawn to the characters and sympathised with them. The portrayal of manipulation and control was creepy but you never felt like it was over-done and Mike, although a horrible character, never felt too much like an outright pantomime villain – it was nicely balanced.
The plot itself is full of twists and turns and kept surprising you right until the end chapter. The build-up of stakes kept you reading and the way each of the characters individual plots intersected at various points and came together towards the end was really nicely written.
Overall although The Fear is far from an ‘enjoyable read’ but it certainly is a compelling and sadly relatable story with many twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the very end. Thank you so much to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.