Under Your Skin – Book Review

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Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“There’s absolutely no way anyone would find me. Even if I tried to batter on the tiny window at people’s feet, no-one would hear.””

I’m still buzzing about this book! Incredible! I’d heard so many great things about this one before I had the chance to be on this tour, so when the opportunity came up, I jumped at it. I’m still completely blown away by how amazing this book is, and I am so ecstatic to share my review! Definitely found one of my new favourite authors for sure.

When Kyle’s wife Hannah goes missing, the whole town is out in force to try to find her. One person knows where she is. One person is keeping a secret.

Detective Inspector Simon Peters and Detective Kerry Lawlor have been brought in to investigate the case but Hannah has left no traces and Kyle has no clues.

Local Belfast resident Julia Matthews joins the #FindHannah campaign and becomes friendly with Kyle, sympathising with his tragedy. As Julia becomes more involved in the case than she bargained for, she begins to uncover more secrets than the Police ever could. Julia was only trying to help but has she become drawn into a web of mystery that she can’t escape?

The beginning

When a story starts with the line, “999, what’s your emergency?” you know you’re in for quite a ride! It wasn’t long before the goosebumps started and I began to get that feeling that something wasn’t quite right. The opening to the book is spectacular, and really got me thinking straight away. Where is Hannah? What had happened prior to her disappearance? If you want a book that will keep you guessing, I can recommend this one right now! I liked how we hear from both Kyle and Hannah’s perspectives, and I felt the style of writing really complemented the genre, but at the same time, it felt light and easy to read. I could not fault any of it so far! Everything about it was definitely my cup of tea and I was desperate to get further and further into this mystery, learn more about both Kyle and Hannah, and join the other characters in finding Hannah’s whereabouts.

We soon hear from a range of other characters, including Kerry, who works at the police department, and Kate, a fellow citizen concerned for Hannah’s welfare. I loved how much depth the different points of view gave the story, and even though there were quite a few characters to keep on top of, it didn’t feel confusing in the slightest. The author has made her characters memorable, so it was really easy to navigate from one story to the next. In particular, I found Hannah’s chapters very intense; we know that she’s okay (for now) but we don’t know anything about how she was taken or even who by at this stage. The book stays mysterious consistently which I loved, and I also admired how the author keeps the reader guessing about a number of things. Would we ever know the truth? Would Hannah ever be safe?

This part of the book places some focus on depression and the signs and signals that people don’t always pick up on. Kyle assures police that Hannah’s mental health is just fine, even though he knows this isn’t true. I really liked Julia, another character we meet who helps in the #FindHannah campaign. Even though she’s going through her own personal issues, she’s ready to help Kyle where he needs it and I thought she’d be a real asset to the team of people searching for clues. I only hoped she wouldn’t get too attached to Kyle, or that Kyle wouldn’t begin to get too attached to her under the circumstances! I found the book to be so easy to get lost in, and each chapter is crucial to the overall mystery of Hannah’s disappearance. Such an involving read that I could not put down!

“Maybe that’s why I’m getting used to it; the home comforts. Or maybe it’s the pills. Maybe the pills make me not care.”

After feeling sorry for Kyle and his loss, I started to dislike him as we’re taken back in time to Hannah’s past. We hear about some of the verbal abuse she suffered and just how things went downhill after their wedding, and I couldn’t believe what I was reading; how he made her feel so small and just how Hannah would have to be careful with how she spoke to other men. This information made me think about the entire plot of the book even more, and just what the real story behind the disappearance is. Did Hannah leave of her own accord? Is where she is now better than being in her own home? I couldn’t wait to find out more about her disappearance and I wanted to know more about Kyle and his behaviour. What caused him to lash out in jealousy? Why did he have such a short fuse when Hannah was around? The snowball was getting bigger, and I just knew there was more important information to come before we solved this mystery.

The middle

The book quickly becomes so much more than a story of a missing woman. We’re plunged deep into the lives of Hannah and Kyle, how their journey spirals out of control and the lengths Hannah goes to in order to live her life as normally as she possibly can, despite her unhappiness. This part of the story was so intense and emotional, and with each word, I was more shocked than ever. I loved how the author placed some focus on Hannah’s life as well as traveling back and forth from past to present. Each scene described makes you feel every word and the book quickly became such a gripping read for me. The more I read about Julia, the more I wanted to let her in on all the secrets we learned and keep her away from any potential harm. Who knows what would happen if she got on Kyle’s bad side…

Things really heat up as Julia finds something significant in Kyle’s kitchen drawer. Was he not the kind, considerate man she saw on the surface? Was there something much darker to him, something that she really didn’t want to mess with? This part of the story was so gripping and even though we’re beginning to get answers, I still found myself asking question after question about Hannah’s current location. Did she want to get away from him so much that she’d done something drastic? Is she safe? The plot of this book was quite unlike anything I’ve read in this genre. There was something not right and something important that we’re missing. I was so desperate to find out that final piece of the puzzle! The author has injected so much emotion and drama into the book and it turned into something of pure perfection.

Out of nowhere, the news I was desperate for surfaces and my jaw must have dropped to the floor! Not only was the information we learn completely and utterly unexpected, but it was delivered in such a heart-stopping way. The author has completely outdone herself here! The more I read, the more so much began to slot into place and I found myself sympathising with Hannah more than ever. There were so many horrific scenes that left me with tears in my eyes and emotion swimming in my mind. The book forces you to think about your own life, and also about so many others who are suffering from some kind of domestic abuse. The words were so powerful, and it was at this point where I stopped reading for a brief moment to process everything that was happening. This story was really something else, and I just couldn’t not tear myself away from the pages!

“I groan. I don’t want to see Kyle. He is the last person I want to see.”

From discussing information with the police to keeping some of the biggest secrets of their lives, the characters in the book all play such a crucial part in the telling of the story. I feel like I flew through this book due to my curiosity and determination to get to the bottom of the mystery and I was so eager to join the characters on the journey. With so much already revealed and so many reviewers raving about how good the ending of the book is, I couldn’t imagine how things could get any better than they already were! Excitement was building, but at the same time, I felt like the danger may escalate at any given moment. How would the book end? Would Hannah ever be safe again? Would she make it out alive and sane? I had so many questions and a thirst to get to the end of the book!

The end

Just as I expected, things get particularly terrifying for Julia. She’s made a mistake, and boy doesn’t she know it. It was horrifying placing yourself in this character’s shoes, just as it was with Hannah. Would both of their stories put the right person behind bars for good? The book keeps up its addictive nature all the way through the ending, and there was one particular character I was desperate to catch up with; Hannah. With both good news and bad news emerging for different characters, what would the outcome be? The author has already made this book one of my favourites of the year – could it honestly get much more gripping?! The story was coming to an end in such a memorable and compelling way, and I just couldn’t get enough.

I found myself thinking about the first chapter of the book again at this point and just how it links to this part of the story. Every scene fits perfectly together, each character has immense purpose and with each page, we get closer and closer to that grand finale. One character in particular who really stood out to me throughout this part of the book was Kate; her understanding and kind nature is crucially important and in some ways, this might have been the one thing that saves a life. As a reader, I felt encouraged to reflect on every detail I’d learned during the book as it was really important in those final pages. The whole book was such an amazing reading experience and I can’t praise it enough!

I loved one scene where Kerry interrogates one particular character we’ve grown to loathe throughout the book. The recount of events are sickening, but hearing these words from this character was a relief in so many ways. I don’t know how the author has done it – I felt like this book would have been quite an emotional ride to write, but it’s an important story to tell. As well as the intense story of a missing woman, we learn so more much about domestic abuse, and the lengths someone will go to in order to feel safe and secure. It also made me think about trust issues and just how important it is to trust your instincts. You never know what life can be like behind closed doors!

“I nodded. Just one small gesture but that one movement of the head was one of the strongest things I’d ever done.”

The ending of the story filled my heart with emotion, from shock and sadness to relief and happiness. I also felt a sense of closure, even though the journey for the characters wasn’t over yet. The author has written such a captivating book from beginning to end, and I really thought the ending couldn’t have been improved any more. I found myself thinking about all the characters we’ve met on this journey after I finished reading, not only in awe because of how well each one of them stuck in my mind, but also because they’d all been affected in some way. This book just breathes talent and I’m really quite sad that I’ve finished it!

Overall thoughts

This book has been a first for me – I bought the paperback before I’d even finished reading! It’s one of those stories that leaves you sitting in silence long after reading, coming to terms with everything you’ve just experienced. I’ve been in awe from start to finish, the plot is so unpredictable and the characters so believable and perfectly created. The author has stunned me with this book and I hope there will be many other thrillers to come. I can’t wait to check out more of her published work! I’d love to give this book more than five stars – times like this I wish the scale was bigger. I’d recommend this one to lovers of crime and thriller, but also those who love a heartfelt, emotional read too.

Thanks so much to the author, Rose McClelland and Emma at Damp Pebbles for my copy of the book and my place on the blog tour! You can purchase a copy of Under Your Skin now on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. Make sure you’re following the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date!

Looking for book reviews?

If you’re in need of more reviews for your book, let me know and I can get you on my review list! See my book reviews page for details and get in touch.

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