Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“The ones who are really crazy, the ones who know they are crazy, those are the ones who are careful. Those are the ones who meticulously organize their sh*t. Those are the ones who wouldn’t keep a child in plain sight in their basement.”
This book is one of those that throws you off course constantly and absolutely wows you no end when you finish. I’m a little lost for words right now! I’ve had this on my TBR list for way too long and I got a deep sense of satisfaction when I read that last page. This book is such an immense debut from Sharon Doering and if you love a book which messes with your head a little and makes you question everything, this is the one for you. So happy to share my review of this seriously unforgettable book!
Five-year-old Ava Boone has been missing for six months. There have been no leads, no arrests, no witnesses. The only suspect was quiet, middle-aged Leland Ernest.
And Grace Wright has just bought the house next door. Recently divorced, Grace uprooted her two small children to start again and hopes the move will reset her crippling insomnia. But now she understands the bargain-price for her beautiful new house.
With whispered neighbourhood gossip and increasingly sleepless nights, Grace develops a fierce obsession with Leland and the safety of her children. Could she really be living next door to a child-kidnapper? A murderer?
With reality and dream blurring more each day, Grace desperately pursues the truth – following Ava’s family, demanding answers from the police – and then a body is discovered…
It took me precisely two sentences of the prologue to keep me sat in the same place on the sofa for hours on end. How crazy is that?! I just knew this book was special very early on. Dark, intriguing and pulse quickening, but special. Special in the fact that this book wasn’t just your average thriller. The beginning of the book had me turning pages quicker than I ever have (and I’ve read some INCREDIBLE thrillers so far this year). My pulse started quickening along with the main character’s, I was on edge whenever there was a scene on a dark night, and I couldn’t shake that feeling that there was something strange about Grace’s next door neighbour, Leland. What an opening! Already, I was so curious about a number of things and so eager to learn more about our main character, and exactly what she’ll experience throughout the book. We learn a lot about Grace early on and it wasn’t long before I felt so attached to her.
It was interesting learning more about Grace’s neighbours and I couldn’t help but to feel on edge whenever they were mentioned in the book. With the disappearance of little Ava being spoken about all around the neighbourhood, and with Grace living next door to a suspect, it was natural for her to be overly protective of her own children. There is a lot of mystery surrounding this case at this point in the story and I was keen to learn more about this little girl’s disappearance. I felt as though I was some sort of nanny to Grace’s children and I always felt the need to encourage Grace to check on them and ensure they were never out of her sight! I loved how we read the book from Grace’s point of view and also think her thoughts. I was a little worried that her constant tiredness and mild hallucinations would be a burden, and with a potential killer on the loose, she needed to be sharp and always on the ball if she was to keep her family safe.
We learn more about Ava before her disappearance and just the kind of confident young girl she was. This made me feel so sad and even more concerned for Grace and her family’s safety. The author’s tone of voice and just how different scenes of the story unfold make them memorable and impactful, and I could sense this would only escalate for Grace. There is so much to question and the danger surrounding this disappearance escalates. Even though Grace is concerned about the safety of her children, the stresses of her life often get too much. She even leaves her children asleep on their own as she goes for her nightly runs around the block. As understandable as the need to get out is, this isn’t the ideal situation. Is it really worth putting her children in danger? The book always seems to keep you on your toes and I found myself to always be on the look out for anything out of the ordinary, any one person that could potentially be a threat to the family.
“He’d been crazed and incoherent an hour ago, his throat still felt clawed from screaming, but now his mind felt strangely calm. Hollow.”
Grace seems to develop some sort of fascination with Ava’s disappearance and spends a lot of time researching all she can about what happened, who could potentially be responsible and just how she could help the family involved. Was her interest in this case teetering on the edge of obsession? She takes things into her own hands to try and get to the bottom of this girl’s disappearance, but the family aren’t too thrilled about her involvement. The story was playing out differently to what I initially imagined and I loved it! However, there was still so much for the reader to learn at this stage and I was really excited to see what we’d uncover later down the line. Would Grace be able to keep her own children safe? Would she find some crucial information that would become invaluable to the case? I couldn’t wait to get deeper into the book and see exactly how the story played out.
Things begin to escalate as Grace does a little bit of stalking. Researching the case and the family online is one thing, but actually leaving the house and following little Ava’s teenage brother and Leland in the same evening is one step further. Would doing so even give her the information she craves? Would anything ever make Grace feel safe and in a way that she could protect her children from anything and everything? The book continues to be heavily detailed; every thought, every feeling is explored and in many instances, we can really relate to Grace and understand her pain. The author has perfected this and knows exactly how to draw in a reader and make them question everything. I loved learning so much about Grace’s life and I felt like this gave the book so much depth. It was still impossible to predict the plot at this stage and I loved how I was always guessing what would happen next!
One particular scene around halfway through the book had my eyes glued to the pages in suspense; Grace trespasses on Leland’s property, certain she’ll find a clue, or even little Ava herself locked up in the basement. She’s slowly becoming hysterical, and I had an awful feeling that things would only get worse. However, what we do discover in this house is enough to pique our suspicion, but at the same time, also consider the fact that all this could just be a coincidence. Hiding suspicious items under your mattress, however, didn’t scream ‘innocent’ to me! I found this scene to be a crucial one in the book and I found myself coming back to it more and more as I read the story. Was Leland the one who took Ava? Did he murder her, or at least know where she was? Somehow, I didn’t think things would be so simple. I had a feeling some surprising news was imminent, and I didn’t know what it could be!
I found the middle of the book to focus much more on Grace and her internal battles than the Ava case, but this case is such a big factor in why she feels the way she does. I found this to be a clever route to go down and I felt it worked so well. I read around three quarters of the book in a day because of this and I genuinely could not get enough! The book continues to get darker the more we read and Grace’s nightmares get even more worrying. Would her thoughts eventually lead her to take some sort of drastic action? Would she be capable of causing serious injury to the person responsible for Ava’s disappearance, or even death? I don’t know how far fetched my theories were, but I was so curious to find out yet more information about this case. Would we ever really know what happened on that day all those months ago? A sudden cliff hanger ending of a chapter throws some of my theories out the window but also solidifies some too. I couldn’t read this book quick enough!
“I can’t go on like this. I am splitting into two separate people, and one of them scares me.”
Instead of placing focus on the other characters in the story, I was now observing Grace very carefully. Her sleepwalking seems to get much worse and now she has a sticky situation on her hands, something she isn’t quite sure she played a part in, even though the evidence suggests otherwise. The book amazed me even more at this point and it was completely unexpected. Did she have it in her to commit a crime? Not just a small crime, but possibly one of the worst of all? The author has really helped us to visualise what Grace is going through and I felt just as unsure and as nervous as she did! A missing hammer seems to confirm a lot of things and I felt Grace needed to get to the bottom of what happened. With a number of outcomes possible, would she be able to stay safe and keep her children out of harms way? Would the truth come out or would her children be taken away from her, the one thing she fears the most? The theme of motherhood and obsessions is explored so deeply and made for such truly memorable reading.
As Grace gets closer to a detective on a too-close-for-comfort case, she’ll have to tread very carefully. I was on the edge of my seat as the two got closer – does the detective know something and is trying to get closer to her for his own gain? Or does he genuinely have feelings for her? The suspense was killing me but I still thought the pace was great and and how the story unraveled was perfect. I felt sorry for Grace and everything she has to go through but at the same time, it was scary reading what she could have potentially been capable of. The description is extraordinary and it was so difficult to take a break from this book. Danger was mounting at an alarming rate and I was hoping we were getting close to an epic reveal. Would the truth come out? Would anyone believe that Grace could commit a crime so brutal, or vice versa?
I found Grace’s hallucinations to be such an interesting factor in so many situations. The reader is left questioning whether anything we read from Grace’s point of view is real, a nightmare or a hallucination. Some of the time, the reader is given this information, but as time went on, I found myself wondering whether anything was real at all. All my emotions seemed to come out and play the further I got to the end of the story; from worrying about safety to becoming happy that she’s found someone she can have fun with, I was so overwhelmed. This book has become one of those books you simply don’t want to end for so many reasons, but at the same time, I was desperate to know what happens. The answers were so close that I could almost taste them! The lead up to the end of the book is really unlike anything else.
Oh my god. That big reveal I was talking about? The author has absolutely nailed it. It was even better than I could have ever imagined it to be! But even when we think it’s all over, it isn’t, and yet again, we’re left thinking about all the “what ifs” and the “what’s going to happen next”. Would Grace’s secret come out or would it remain a secret? Was there even any truth in all this? There’s so much I could say at this point and I don’t want to ruin the ending for anyone – but what I will say is that it’s such a powerful ending! Facts are released slowly, and even though we know some things deep down, it’s still such a great experience seeing other characters as they learn new, horrifying information, but at the same time, relieving information that even made me let out a long exhale.
“They say your true character reveals itself during hardship, which worries me. When the going gets tough, I tend to morph into a raging monster.”
The ending of the book puts things into perspective and makes you think about what other people are going through and experiencing. It also made me think about everything I’ve read in the book and about why characters acted how they did, what they thought they did and even about the complexities of motherhood, especially when you’ve gone through as much as Grace has in her life. Nothing is what is seems in this book and the ending was both a surprise and a saddening experience. We get the answers we need in quite a matter of fact way but the truth almost seems like an explosive side story at this point after every other thing we’ve experienced and the path the story took. One thing is for sure – this book is unique and will well and truly throw you off course! An incredible ride, one that I’ll be recommending far and wide for some time to come.
Obsession, motherhood and an intense desire to protect is explored so deeply in this book and reading it was beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. My views on the main character were so back and forth and how she lives each day was concerning, yet fascinating. This is so much more than the story of a missing girl and when you read it, you’ll understand why. It’s so deep, powerful and detailed, and it’s the ultimate binge-worthy book.
Thank you SO much to the author of this book, Sharon Doering for my copy to read and review! She Lies Close is released tomorrow (September 8th) in the UK and November 10th in US. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon now – I’d definitely recommend it! Make sure you follow the author over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates.