Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

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Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Check the doors are locked. Turn on every light and pull the curtains tight shut. Even then, you won't want to read this one home alone. An excellent, engaging thriller that leaves you guessing. Who is the victim and who is the culprit?
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Corgi
ISBN: 978-0552169530

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It’s cold outside. Dark. Snow is falling. You're safe inside. Of course you are, you've not left the house in months. You're alone, but you feel safe inside. You do. It’s ok. You can do this.

When a knock comes on the door of Hilltop, the remote home Stella shares with her husband, she is frightened. She is not expecting anyone. It is not the weather for unexpected guests to drop by. Suddenly she doesn't feel so safe anymore. But it's just a girl outside. A poor, tired, frozen teenage girl. She can't be that scary, surely?

This book is creepy from the get go, and I took to putting it face down on the bedside table because I didn't want to see the girl's face when I first opened my eyes. I don't really like horror stories, but I do enjoy psychological thrillers, which is what this is. Stella lets Blue into the house, but then finds the girl to be more trouble than she first appeared. She seems to know about Stella already, has come here intentionally. She has hurtful things to say about Stella's husband, things that must quite simply be lies, but when Stella asks her to leave, she won't. It's a horrifying scenario for anyone, but not least for someone in Stella's position. We don't immediately know why she is locked away in Hilltop, but we know something must have happened. Something bad.

This story has three streams, the current day, the past from a few years before leading up to Stella's demise, and Blue's recollections of her therapy sessions. Spanning time and narrator, these nonetheless immediately fit together to make a blended story, not a fragmented one. Stella needs to grow during the story to deal with her newfound guest, and it is easier to see how she manages to do so when we have a glimpse into her past. She has to come a long way back, but the person she used to be does begin to surface in places.

Blue, on the other hand, is harder to pin down. By her very nature it’s terribly difficult to see beyond the superficial to determine who she actually is and to what extent she means what she says. I couldn't get a clear picture of her in my mind as the description seemed vague in places, but that haunting photo on the front cover certainly seemed viable.

There are lots of elements of this story that need to be knitted together, dots to be joined, connections to be made. It comes together deliciously slowly giving you lots to ponder along the way, and with every new fact uncovered, my mind swayed first this way and that, trying to work out who to believe and who was big ol’ fibber.

There aren't many settings to this book. A big chunk takes place inside the house, while a lot of the rest is in Stella's former place of work. We don't have lengthy descriptions of trips out, meetings with friends, new restaurants to try, weekends away. Much like Stella’s life these days, the whole book is lived in one place but far from leaving the story lacking, it really drives home how Stella must be feeling, never being able to venture beyond those four walls.

As with any book with a medical theme, my critical eye came out. There was only one comment I objected to, the idea that there was a national electronic database of patient records that an unscrupulous person could access. If only one existed! Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read with gusto to get to the conclusion. It had an elegant mix of mystery, anguish and humanity, and although I can see why some might find the themes distressing, I thought the author did extremely well to indicate what had happened without having to say in so many words. There were no descriptions that I found offensive or upsetting, which is an achievement given the subject matter.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. It's highly recommended.

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant is a great read for fans of this genre as is her newer work Remember Me This Way.

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Buy Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Don't Stand So Close by Luana Lewis at


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