|Valentina: A hauntingly intelligent|
psychological thriller by S. E. Lynes
Publisher: Blackbird Digital Books
Links: Goodreads | Indigo | Book Depository | Amazon | Kobo
When Shona moves into a cottage with her partner, Mikey, and their daughter, Isla, in picturesque rural Scotland, they think all that's ahead of them is bliss. How very wrong they are. With Mikey working offshore and Shona left alone with their baby in the isolated countryside, Shona quickly becomes restless. But just when she needs her the most, Shona meets Valentina and they become best friends. But everything is not as it seems.
Valentina is an intense and, as the subtitle suggests, highly intelligent psychological thriller. The tension is palpable throughout as we feel the effects of cabin fever starting to show in Shona, and as little things keep cropping up that aren't quite right.
We know something is off before Shona does, and as such we start picking up on clues, trying to guess what exactly is going on. I was able to figure out most of what was at play fairly early on, but it was a hell of a ride anyway. I could barely put this book down because it was so intriguing. The story leaves you wondering: who can you really trust?
Initially, I found the switch in perspective we get about two thirds of the way through a little awkward, but I quickly became engrossed in the new information, the other side of everything leading up to that point. The story is so well written and you find yourself feeling empathy for and understanding points of view you wouldn't normally identify with.
I found the characters themselves really interesting and it was easy for me to become invested in their stories. Shona is a no-nonsense Scottish journalist, trusting and strong, a woman who wants to do what she thinks is best for her family. Mikey is a doting husband and father, the picture of the hard-working provider. And then there's Valentina, the mysterious, free-spirited best friend who seems to know more than she's letting on.
Valentina is one of the best psychological thrillers I've read to date, and it's definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far. It's a page-turner that will leave you second-guessing yourself. Psychological damage can make people do drastic things...
*This book was sent to me by Blackbird Digital Books in exchange for an honest review.