How You See Me by S E Craythorne

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How You See Me by S E Craythorne

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: A compelling and ultimately sad collection of letters reveal much about their fictional writer. Leaving us skilfully dangled, we know that a shock is coming but not that shock!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 189 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Myriad Editions
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1908434562

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Daniel's father is ill after a stroke and so Daniel needs to go home to Norfolk to nurse him. While there he continues to write letters to his beloved girlfriend Alice, his sister Mab and his boss to keep them up to date. The problems in Daniel's life are a lot closer to home than those he's left behind in his normal life though. Gradually the reasons why Daniel left Norfolk return to him, increasing in intensity until it's much, much too late.

This is S E Craythorne's debut novel after gaining her MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia and contributing poetry and prose to selected literary journals. Perhaps, as this is a first novel, it's not surprising that she sets it in her native Norfolk. However the Norfolk and the Norfolk folk she presents to us are surprising in the extreme.

It all seems normal in the beginning. Daniel has a rocky relationship with his family which isn't that unusual perhaps. After all he's grown up as the son of a famous artist and bears the surname that some may seek to use for their own purposes. At least he has Alice, the love of his life to understand him.

As he writes to Alice we hear of the day to day difficulties connected with caring for an elderly parent and minding his dog. Then from time to time Daniel also slips in little snippets from his past which we piece together, prompting questions. What sort of man is Daniel's employer? What's been happening at work? How exactly did Daniel meet Alice? Then there's the curious relationship that Daniel has with his father's former life model.

Ok, we start with the expectation that all may not be as it seems, just from the book blurb. In fact as we're reading we may be looking for the darkness prompted by the tag line. Has S E (if I may be so familiar) shot herself in the foot then? Nope, not in the slightest!

At times we may feel that we've found the darkness and can guess what’s coming. I was nearly on the right track but the finale still comes as a stomach churning shock. It's not a one trick pony of a novel though; we're surprised throughout, spurred on by the page-turner breadcrumbs the author expertly scatters for us in an almost S J Watson-ish way. It's not a copy though. This may have a narrator writing theme to share with Before I Go To Sleep and is just as good, but still hangs onto an air of originality.

Daniel may proudly state I lie to everyone about my family… but throughout the book the truth seeps out in a way that not even Daniel will avoid. It manipulates our first impressions and asks questions regarding how we fool ourselves while building fascination that teeters satisfyingly on top of creepy intrigue. Yes, I liked it rather a lot!

(Thank you to Myriad Editions for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you like a touch of creepiness and nail-biting S J Watson's Before I Go To Sleep or his second book Second Life are definitely recommended.

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Buy How You See Me by S E Craythorne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How You See Me by S E Craythorne at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy How You See Me by S E Craythorne at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How You See Me by S E Craythorne at


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