Publication Date: Available Now (E-book) 15th June (Paperback) from Orenda
Source: Review Copy
Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it?
When you have been reading psychological thrillers for as long as I have you start to believe that nothing can surprise you, that you have read every nuance possible, there is nothing new to see just variations on a theme, some good, some dreadful – but it’s almost like you get into a zone, the next psychological thriller is a bit like a comfort blanket.
Then a book like “Exquisite” comes along and knocks your socks off, lights dynamite under your reading slumber and explodes your brain into a million pieces – you can’t quite grasp what just happened and for nights afterwards you wake up going “hang on a minute” then madly picking over the detail in your head before dragging yourself through your normal routine a bit confused about what day it is.
Exquisite is genuinely Exquisite – so beautifully written and utterly absorbing that you sink into it. I’m loathe to tell you too much about it because the colder you read it the bigger impact it will have on you – suffice to say we have two women, two very different women, who have a creative streak linking them and who come together with extraordinary consequences. Probably. Sarah Stovell creates clear character voices, messes with their dynamics throughout the narrative, throws in so many layers that often you are reeling, incites reader violence (occasionally I got randomly stabby at things that were going on) – then just when you think you’ve grasped what the realities are she turns everything upside down and backwards with an ending that is so incredibly BOOM that you just fall over and lie there for a moment. Metaphorically speaking.
Then you just have to go back and read it all over again.
Clever intelligent plotting, a wonderful wonderful use of language to subtly engage the senses of the reader, with a strong emotional core that just stays with you for days and days after finishing it, Exquisite is the best novel about obsession I have read in forever. It is certainly the best psychological thriller I have seen emerge from the crowd in the last few years – A shoe in for my top ten this year and a definite chance at the top spot, Exquisite is a book for everyone but especially for those who believe, like I did, that there is nothing new to be done within this genre.
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