Book Review: Then She Was Gone

It’s always worse than you can imagine, because horror and grief are tricky and pliable. They take shapes you didn’t know existed, and they're impossible to contain, or even manage.

In Then She Was Gone, author Lisa Jewell knows how to describe horror. Tangible horror. The kind of thing that lurks at the back of your mind: what would happen if [terrible thing] occurred? 

We've all seen the movies and read the books, but they're not what we can imagine.What's in our heads is awful, simply and utterly awful — and what Jewell has in her head is even worse than awful, if that's possible. She takes it to unimaginable, etching it into our brains with precise language and specific, and devastating, details. 

If you don't want to envision the reality of your own fears, skip this book.

At a certain point, I knew what we would learn about the characters and the storyline —  but that didn't dim my enthusiasm one bit. I liked the author's writing. I understood and appreciated the world she built. There was still a lot of book to be read. I wanted to see where she would take the story.

I don't completely rue that decision, but what it brought with it will stay with me for a long, long time. 

The structure of the book is brilliant: We are privy to the minds of only certain characters, and only select featured characters provide first-person narrative. The slow unfolding of the story, who provides what perspective and what specific details, what is revealed by whom and how.... the suspense kept me up literally all night, reading frantically to reach the conclusion.

(Also, can someone please explain to me the apparent British obsession with champagne? It pops up regularly in books penned by British writers. It's fascinating to me, really.)

At any rate, I recommend this book for people with strong nerves and an ability to not look away. I am not usually that reader, but I am glad I was for this book.

Chime in below, or message me: did it capture you?