Him by Clare Empson
Publishing Date: 4th April 2019
Source: Received from the publisher, thank you!
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Big Little Lies meets 13 Reasons Why in this dark and suspenseful debut from a stunning new talent.
It all started with … HIM.
Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian.
Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever.
Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force.
But they can’t move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.
15 years ago, Catherine met Lucian and they fell in love – beautiful, honest, passionate love. But then something happens Catherine breaks up with Lucian – without an explanation – and she disappears from his life. But, even though she marries Sam and they have two children, she can’t forget Lucian. Fast forward to present, four months ago something horrible happened to Catherine, something that caused her to shut down entirely, to stop talking with Sam and the children. What happened when she met Lucian again?
The story jumps between past and present. 15 years ago Catherine and Lucian were at the university, then we have 4 months before (before this something really bad happened?). Catherine is in a hospital now, not being able to speak after “this” happened, and the author has done a great job of getting into Catherine’s head, bringing all her fears, feelings and emotions to life. The switches in time may sound confusing but they’re really not, I was always able to keep track of the plot. However, it is a story that develops in a very slow way, so be prepared for this, and I think it wins from not adding many incredibly twists and turns but focusing on the complex, assured plot.
Catherine, Lucian, Liv and Sam were likeable and relatable characters while Lucian’s group of friends was simply awful and, let’s be honest, a little stereotyped, those posh kids at Bristol University, snobbish and privileged. This mix of different personalities was, though, really great but I’d love more depth to them all. However, with them all so different, it was only a matter of time before this all was going to explode, right? For their secrets to be revealed and I’ve been waiting impatiently for this to happen.
I’ve missed Jack’s point of view, his motivation – why was he like this, what was it that made him want to be like Lucian. There was too little depth to his character and I simply couldn’t get his obsession. Also, the fact that there was a mystery, a secret was absolutely brilliant, however in my opinion it took too long to reveal it. From the very beginning we are made aware that something really bad had happened, it is mentioned in almost every single chapter, especially those told from Catherine’s point of view, and you know how it is, sometimes less is more, sometimes it’s advisable not to hint so much and let the reader wait till the very end because they can start to feel frustrated and the whole good idea simply loses on tension and suspense.
“Him” was a story of unconditional love, guilt and obsession. It was a dark and tragic tale of love that’s gone wrong and toxic friendship. It’s a slow burner and is rather character driven but it’s gripping. It felt very mature in terms of literary and it’s a splendid debut novel written with sensitivity and skill. It’s more social drama than psychological thriller for me, but whatever the label it was a gripping, absorbing and heart – wrenching story, very atmospheric, sad and thick with nostalgia.
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