Monday 5 February 2024

Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra #Nightwatching @tsierraauthor @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks @Jane54321 #BookReview


There was someone in the house.

Home alone with her young children during a blizzard, a mother tucks her son back into bed in the middle of the night. Then she hears a noise - old houses are always making some kind of noise. But this sound is disturbingly familiar: it's the tread of footsteps, unusually heavy and slow, coming up the stairs...

In that split second, she has three choices.

Should she hide? Should she run? Or should she fight?

Nightwatching by Tracy Sierra is published by Viking / Penguin on 8 February 2024. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This truly is one of most terrifying books that I've ever read. It is a psychological thriller that crept it's way into my head and wouldn't leave. Even when I wasn't actually reading it, I was thinking about it. I have to give credit to an author who can make me invest so much into characters that don't even have names. 

The opening line is enough to send icy chills down the spine ..... 'There was someone in the house' .... 

Nightwatching is set in a very old house, made up of different sections that have been added on at various times, with a central staircase that leads to all parts of the house. There's a blizzard blowing outside, the snow is very deep, the house and its inhabitants are isolated and alone.  But they are not alone .......  The mother sees a figure on the landing, at first she thinks she is imagining things, but soon realises that there really is a man in her house. 

She is desperate to get her son and daughter out of harms way, to protect them, to keep them safe, just like any mother would do. The house is so old, and creaks and shudders in the wind, but the woman knows all of the noises that her house makes; each squeaky floorboard, every loose step. Trying to keep calm and not pass on her terror to her children, she manages to get them all into a safe hiding place within the house,  convinced that the man will not find them there. 

The author does not prepare her reader for this, we land smack bang in the middle of this event and my heart began to pound faster and faster as I willed the woman to save her children. We know nothing about the characters, and the author's decision not to give the characters names doesn't detach the reader at all, in fact, for me, it made me feel more concerned, more curious. Where is the woman's husband that she thinks about so often? Why are they alone in the house? 

However, the woman does give the intruder a name, she refers to him as Corner. I think this was done to dehumanise this person, not allowing him to have human traits, he's a monster. 

Whilst the three are hiding, the woman's thoughts go back to when she met and married her husband, she thinks about her own family, and she remembers how her father in law has always treated her so badly. She seems to be a woman who has suffered at the hands of men, and Corner only reinforces these feelings. The gradual getting to know the woman through her thoughts is expertly done, and the reader begins to understand her actions and why she takes them. 

There is so much more to come, but those things are for other readers to discover, it's not my job to relay the entire plot, the author does it so much better, with style and in tense and gripping prose.

The house itself and the surrounding area are so central to this story. The description of the blistering cold weather conditions, the nearby forest with branches that seem to attack, and a graveyard of tombstones and added dangers increase the tension. The sometimes disjointed thoughts and actions of the woman, and her interactions with yet more men who show nothing but disrespect may often make the reader question her too. With an ending that both shocked and satisfied me, Nightwatching is one of the most atmospheric, heart pounding and totally gripping thrillers that I've read for many a year. 

Tracy Sierra was born and raised in the Colorado mountains. 

She is an attorney who currently lives in New England in an antique colonial-era home complete with its own secret room. 
When not writing, she spends time with her husband and two children. 
Nightwatching is her debut novel.

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