Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“So what if it is? Wouldn’t that be karma? Sometimes karma’s a bitch.”
Phew! What an absolute rollercoaster of a book this is! Eoghan Egan is an author that everyone needs to watch out for, and has very quickly become one of those crime/thriller writers that will always be on my radar. The powerful way he writes about real life issues and the way he weaves this into a storyline like no other made this a stand out book in its genre, one I’m confident will be loved by many. I’m thrilled to be on the book tour today with Red Dog Press – if you like the sound of this book, please support the author by buying yourself a copy or by sharing this review!
About the book
Nothing will ever be the same again.
Sharona Waters is determined to dig into loan shark Dessie Dolan’s business and see him brought to justice. But when a young woman she’s only briefly met goes missing, a much darker story emerges.
Pulled into the ruthless world of people trafficking – a world built on violent brutality and sudden death – Sharona finds herself caught between crime and conscience, pursued by powerful and ruthless criminals, and just one bad decision away from having her whole world crash down.
Sometimes, the only way forward is to risk everything, no matter the cost.
Great books make an impact as soon as you start that first page, and I was absolutely thrilled when I read the starting chapter in The Other Side of Fear! I loved the interrogation of Tommy Mellor; the way this character was introduced stuck with me, the description of his torture gripping and the questions about how he’d got himself into this situation were running through my mind. It’s instantly clear just how much of a talented writer Eoghan is, and you don’t need to read much of this book to know that! Dessie Dolan, the guy who was trying his hardest to get information out of Tommy, was a really stand out character and was very easy to visualise. Even though this guy comes across as pretty terrifying, I loved his character, someone I knew we’d have to watch out for as we go through the book. I also loved the introduction of Sharona, Ronan, Hugh and Ruth – brilliant characters whose personalities shone through from the very start. I couldn’t wait to get further into this story and I was completely hooked!
We soon learn that Dolan is a loan shark, but it’s also clear there’s something else going on with him and his people, something involving teenage girls and fake modelling jobs. I loved how this main storyline ran alongside others flawlessly, and we meet new characters and learn their stories. It was a shame I started book two before reading book one, as the references to that first book sounded incredible, something right up my street! However, the author has perfectly summed up certain facts to bring us up to speed, and I felt well acquainted with all the characters and their roles soon enough, even though there were a lot of them to keep track of! The more we hear about Dolan, the more I understood just how dangerous he is, how manipulative and fearless he is. This guy wants people to be scared of him! He knows what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it. I saw some similarities in another character, Adam Styne; what did he have to hide and what did this have to do with Sharona and the gang? Adam and his story fascinated me from the start, and it was addictive thinking about where his story would go next.
“Trying to pin down Dolan is like trying to nail soup to the wall. Still, he’ll turn up at some stage. Creatures of habit always revert to type.”
A good chunk of the book here sets us up for further events, and this was so incredibly detailed. Even though the pages can get heavy and there is a lot to keep track of at times, it feels very rewarding if you stick with it. The dialogue between a range of different characters, the good and the bad, was perfectly put together, so engrossing and genuinely interesting that I had a hard time taking a break from reading. Malcolm quickly became one of my favourite characters for a number of reasons. He’s involved with Dolan which obviously screams ‘danger’, he’s stressed, and Dolan also manages to drug him, causing graphic nightmares and blackouts where he can’t account for a good chunk of time. He also came across as someone who I wanted to protect! I felt there was so much to learn about this character and so much more in store for him. Revisiting Rebecca’s character, the girl who was promised a life changing modelling role, really got things moving in the book. She soon becomes a missing person, and it’s clear Dolan is behind her disappearance. Another character whose story I just had to learn more about!
Scenes of confrontation and violence are exceptionally well written, and when Rebecca gets taken away, I was completely engrossed in the author’s words. The plot becomes more exciting, giving us more and more reason to continue reading, the questions building quickly in my mind. I felt so involved in the book so far, and we weren’t even at the really good stuff yet! A shocking scene of a horrific house fire created an even darker tone, especially as we learned who was probably behind it all. When Dolan’s name is mentioned and when people are directly affected by his actions and decisions, they crave justice. I need more characters like Dolan in the books I read! I really felt the way a character’s mindset changes after losing a loved one to the fire. You could tell just how much the anger and loss inside was encouraging him to seek revenge. The beginning of the book is full on, gripping with well paced events, and after you get your head around the number of characters and how their lives and stories intertwine, you get a really exciting feeling about what we’ve yet to discover! A cracking start to the book, just what I’d hoped for!
The author writes mysterious, thrilling scenes brilliantly, and a stand out scene for me was Ferdia’s journey to a club to find Dolan after the fire. (Yep, this is yet another character, but he’s a very good one!) We’re placed right into this character’s mind, we feel the darkness inside him and share those chilling thoughts. If he found himself face to face with the person he believed to have robbed him from his home and his relationship, what would he do? What would he be capable of and would it be wise to act upon these feelings of anger, especially when this person is a very dangerous individual? However, what does happen in this scene was perfectly planned and was an absolute thrill to read. It was so vivid that I could easily see every detail play out in my mind – I loved it! Fighting scenes done right are some of my favourites, and Eoghan has absolutely nailed it here. Dolan was growing on me more and more as a character, even though baddies should certainly be at the bottom of my list of favourite characters… I couldn’t help but love him!
Rebecca’s world gets turned upside down and those who’ve taken her away treat her so poorly that I was disgusted by their actions. Trigger warning of abuse and rape in the book here, so just something to be wary of. The book gets darker and more twisted than I expected, and I wanted to reach into the book to save Rebecca and all those other young girls from what they were experiencing! Even though these scenes were absolutely horrific and shocked me to the core, the writing was phenomenal. Not only does Eoghan describe the awful conditions Rebecca is subjected to and what she and the other girls experience, but he also explores Rebecca’s thoughts in such detail that we share every slice of fear inside her, every thought of how she looks for an escape and even how she wants to end it all. Very real and such good writing. Come on Sharona, find some way to reach her and save her before it’s too late! The book was certainly heating up here and the excitement and tension I felt was so strong that I couldn’t stop thinking about the story!
“O’Brien lied about my business. What else is he lying about? Whose side is he on?”
The more we flick back and forth from one character to the next, the more it becomes clear just how well crafted this book is. There’s so much going on, so many characters with their own problems to learn about and learn from, and the author navigates all this without tripping up or getting those wires crossed. It blew my mind! Sharona is trying to get in contact with Rebecca, Rebecca is trying to stay alive in a trafficking ring, Adam is stuck in a mental facility, Malcolm is having bad luck gambling, Hugh is searching for Ferdia, Ferdia is waiting for Dolan to mash him to a pulp, Dolan… where’s Dolan?! It’s a tense, exciting and very addictive story, and even though heavy books usually exhaust me, this one was everything I needed to read and more! Despite all the suspense, the author also writes emotional scenes with such care. Hugh’s mum suffers from Alzheimer’s, and hearing how her memories fade and how she barely recognises her son brought a tear to my eye. Just exceptional!
Adam Styne’s mental assessment was very thorough and it was such an intriguing scene to read. It made me curious about the reasoning for the questions asked and what those results would show! Meanwhile, Sharona and Ronan get closer to Rebecca, and their plan of Ronan pretending to be a ‘john’ to get Rebecca alone was very clever. But would it work? Rebecca experiences helpnessless and betrayal from someone she considered a friend, and it made me feel even more tense, like she’d never find a way out of that horrible place. Was she in even more danger now than she was before? Had she sacrificed the safety of her family? I loved how we see this character’s confidence and determination grow, even when she feels like she’s got nothing left to give. I just hoped she could hang on that little bit longer! I was certainly at my favourite stage of the book here, and even though we’d learnt and experienced so much over the course of the book, I still needed answers to some burning questions!
I enjoyed the stories of so many characters in this book, but Rebecca’s definitely topped the list for me. The way she thinks on her feet after everything she’s been through was impressive, and her bravery shone through just in the nick of time. She plans her escape from a ‘special’ client cleverly and methodically, but will it be the swift exit she needs? The pacing as we get to those final chapters was perfect, the urgency and tension clear and exciting. The danger escalates; we see Malcolm in a very sticky situation which not only shows how awful Dolan is, but just what he’s capable of, and we see a side to Adam we knew was there, but we hadn’t yet seen in the story. The way the author has written his scenes throughout the whole book was so so good, and he even made me think Adam was completely innocent at times! I got feelings of dread and uncertainty as Rebecca is plunged into danger once more, this time taking another familiar character with her. I couldn’t take much more! Now what?!
Ronan, Hugh and Ferdia turn into absolute heroes thanks to a bit of quick thinking and a handy tracking device. Who’d have thought they’d get into a situation like this and live to tell the tale? I wasn’t convinced the danger was completely over though; there were still so many unanswered questions about Dolan, Malcolm and Adam, and their stories were crucially important, not to mention gripping as heck! I felt a little emotional at this point in the book; I absolutely loved how certain characters are there for others in times of need, their friendship unwavering and just how they’re there for one another was so heartwarming. I felt like I’d known all of them for years and it’d be sad to say goodbye to them once the book ended! Just as I was having this thought and felt quite content, the author throws another curveball, a shocking discovery that hurt my heart as well as the hearts of some of my favourite characters. I was curious to see how this event would change things as we reached the book’s finale.
“Now, every minute, I face the unbearable terror of the unknown, and that fear will never end.”
Justice was the only thing on many character’s minds at this point and it was amazing seeing those final scenes play out; taking down a gang, the hunt for Dolan after he finds himself in a less than ideal situation… but it was also exciting knowing he was still on the run. Would he flee for good? Would he finally get a taste of his own medicine? However, there was also one particular character who took the term ‘justice’ and twisted it to fit his own definition. Don’t mess with Adam Styne… The danger, the tension and the excitement showed no signs of slowing, and in a way, it certainly seemed like the author has saved the best scenes till last! Adam’s character just continued to wow me, his actions and thoughts pretty terrifying, the writing from the author so incredibly captivating and satisfying. I had no idea what those final scenes would uncover and even if all these characters would live, but one thing was for certain; there definitely needs to be a book three!
Ferdia’s bravery (and even kindness) in those last few pages was commendable and the tenseness of a lot of it made me forget to breathe at times! His need for revenge was so strong, and this feeling is instantly transferred to the reader here. I loved how the beginning and the end of the book connected; a really satisfying feeling. But what I really loved was ending the story with Sharona, a character that I’d connected with so much throughout the book. The author has ended this brilliantly, and even exceeded all my expectations. The book is certainly another one of those that will leave me with a huge book hangover! I appreciated how certain things were rounded up, but also how some character’s stories were not quite finished yet… I feel the author has taken a solid idea for a novel and moulded it perfectly into something unique, memorable and immensely enjoyable for a whole variety of readers, and I’m so glad I picked it up! Now to take a few days for a reading break to process everything I’ve gone through!
If you like a somewhat challenging read, love an excellent cast of characters and can take the dark elements alongside the lighter ones, then you’ve got an absolute winner of a book here. It ticked every single box for me, and I’m still unable to start reading another book because this story has been stuck in my head for so long! The plot is completely awe-inspiring, and covers the grim world of trafficking and violence, the heartbreaking effects of Alzheimer’s and losing loved ones, as well as the truly dangerous world of crime in all its forms. However, it was the characters that really stood out the most for me. Each one of them absolutely excellent, and if one of them was removed, the story would be completely different. A phenomenal book that scored highly in every single area for me. Go read it!
A huge thanks to the author, Eoghan Egan, for my copy of this book to read and review, even though I bought myself the paperback anyway! You can purchase your own copy of The Other Side of Fear over on Amazon or from the Red Dog Press website. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates!
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