This is the second book written by Anne Goodwin that I have read and reviewed. The first Sugar and Snails I reviewed in Feb 2017. I was looking forward to her second book Underneath, a very different book from the first but with one similarity – they both have a secret at the beginning and not until nearly at the end do we find the answer. There the similarities end.
This is a dark tale of two deeply disturbed adults. Both had horrific upbringings. Neither wants children. From the time Steve, a hospital orderly, meets Liesel, a social worker over lunch in the hospital cafeteria you are screaming at her to get out. Steve, also the narrator, is a creepy character that should send shivers down anyones spine. These feelings intensify as Liesel goes house hunting with him and moves into the house that she has helped him purchase, one with a lockable cellar room which we know from the beginning has been used to imprison a girl.
Steve is infatuated with the beautiful Liesel who gets him to visit his family and seemingly gives him some normality to his life however when she decides that she does want a child and gives an ultimatum that Steve too must want one by Easter the scene is set to wander into darker and darker spaces. I won’t give more of the story away. What is the point of a pyschological thriller if you aren’t chilled to the bone because you already know what happens.
The book is written in six parts – each starting with a couple of pages in the cellar. This is written in italics. Then we move into the present or perhaps a flashback into the past. There are no transitions between present and flashback and although in places they are confusing to read because it throws you off balance I think this technique was a clever ploy by the author as it adds to the readers sense of alarm and foreboding.
Would I recommend this book – yes I would. It is not a book that you can say is enjoyable (unless you enjoy being creeped out) but one that sends shivers up your spine and stays with you after reading. If you like psychological thrillers/dramas this book is for you. I’m glad I have read it and will certainly return should Anne Goodwin write another novel.