Friday 6 August 2021

The House of Whispers by Anna Kent @BellaKay @HQstories #TheHouseOfWhispers @midaspr @Bookish_Becky #BookReview


Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…

When Grace returns to Abi’s life, years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting.

Now happily married, Abi’s built a new life for herself and put those days behind her. And yet as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell…

Abi’s husband, Rohan, can’t help but be concerned as his wife’s behaviour changes. As their happy home threatens to fall apart, he realises that there’s something deeply unnerving about Grace. Just what influence does this woman have over his wife, and why has she come back now?

A chilling story of guilt and obsession from Anna Kent.

The House of Whispers by Anna Kent was published on 5 August 2021 by HQ. My thanks to Becky at Midas PR who sent my copy for review.

Oh, I do love a tale of toxic friendships, and this one is a belter. I read this in one day, constantly screaming (in my head) at the characters, there's a sense of dread and anticipation woven throughout the story that made my heart pound in places. 

Cleverly, the author begins the novel with a transcript from an interview with Rohan Allerton, the husband of our narrator Abi. These transcripts are scattered throughout the novel, the reader knows that something has happened to Abi, what we don't know what it is. 

Abi is a complex, multi layered character who narrates her story with, what appears to be, an honesty that doesn't always show herself in a great light. However, is Abi reliable? Do we believe her words?

Abi is an artist and has been married to Rohan for a few years. They live in an old house that they've renovated. The house wasn't Rohan's choice at all, but Abi was determined that they should live there. They've decorated as much as they can afford, but there are parts of the house that still show signs of the previous occupants. Abi is an artist, and her studio is the attic room, right at the top of the house.

It's clear, from references made, that Abi has had issues in the past, fleeting references to an unexplained event in her past just adds to the tension that this author cleverly builds. 

Rohan has to travel to New York for work and Abi will stay at home. She doesn't do crowded places. However, when she receives an email from Grace; a friend from university, she decides, obviously against her own better judgement to ask her to stay. Abi and Grace haven't been in touch for over four years and it's clear that their relationship ended on a sour note. 

The utter car crash begins. Grace is toxic, with a capital T, and Abi is weak and scarred. The only obvious benefit for Abi, of having Grace in her home, is that her urge to begin painting again returns, and so begins a spiral of frantic painting. She neglects herself, and her home. Rohan's family are worried about her and Grace continues to drip her poison. Abi's already delicate mental state worsens. 

This is clever clever writing. At no time did I guess the outcome and when it arrived, I was utterly shocked. It's uncomfortable reading at times, there are episodes where it feels as though Abi is just one step away from total breakdown and the creeping insidious impact of Grace's presence in her life is often terrifying. 

I thought this was utterly gripping, it sent shivers down my spine and the finale is quite chilling. 

Anna Kent has worked as a journalist, magazine editor and book editor as well as enjoying a stint as a radio producer. 

She’s written for numerous publications at home and abroad, including the Daily Telegraph, where she was a contributor for six years. 

Brought up in the South East, she loves to travel while maintaining a base in Gloucestershire. 

She’s married with two children.

Twitter @BellaKay

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