Release Date: July 14, 2020 (Thanks to BookishFirst for my ARC)
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
I love an atmospheric thriller. When the setting takes on a life of its own, I am all about it (which I think I’ve reiterated in many reviews). The Safe Place absolutely has this characteristic. Emily, our down on her luck, broke, jobless protagonist jets off to a sprawling estate in France to be a housekeeper for a virtual stranger. Emily falls into a very overused thriller character mold, but I was mostly able to look past that as the story ramped up. Her ditziness and inability to take control of her life made me believe that her character would accept a job abroad when the handsome, charming CEO of the company she used to work for, Scott, offers it up suddenly. His special treatment makes her weak at the knees, and I could perfectly see how Scott’s charisma would have someone like Emily dangerously spellbound.
One aspect of the writing that really stood out to me is Downes’s ability to write incredibly unique characters. In sharp contrast to Emily’s airheadedness, was Scott with his shocking yet subtle self-injury practices. The constant state of pain he forces himself into allows the reader to see that he is deeply unsettled, and made me want to know why. Once Emily arrives at Querencia, the French estate, she meets Scott’s wife Nina and daughter Aurelia. Nina seems glamorous at first, but her compulsions about her daughters safety and mysterious illnesses indicate that all is not what it seems.
Emily is cut off from the outside world little by little, and believes she is forging a close connection with both Nina and Aurelia. The more she observes about their lives and their mysterious family house, which she is not supposed to enter, the more Emily begins to question what is really going on in their little slice of paradise. The contrast between the description of the beautiful setting and Nina and the house’s sinister qualities and occasional eerie scent of rot and decay, had shivers running up and down my spine.
The twists in this book strayed away from those common to other thrillers. I couldn’t guess all how the clues and secrets fit together and I was pleasantly shocked as the story unfolded.
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
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The Safe Place on Goodreads