In Norway, there’s a tradition of dropping kids of about 12 in the woods and allowing them to navigate and make their own way back to camp. They’re blindfolded so they don’t know where exactly they are and they have no modern conveniences. No phones. No GPS. It’s a rite of passage for a lot of kids. However, the starting point for this novel is, what if something went horribly wrong in the woods?
I was really intrigued by this idea. I bet some kids get a lot of self esteem and confidence out of this exercise. And as the book opens, we learn that while they make their way on their own, there are adults ahead and behind them, and they have some scouting skills. It’s really just a few hours and not completely unsupervised. So not as intense as it sounds. However, in the case of our protagonists, Grace and Karin, there’s more to the story.
Karin has chosen to be dropped in the place where her father loved to spend time, a man who was a war photographer and who died doing what he loved. She is coming to terms with his death and the changes in her life brought on by her mother, Grace, remarriage. Grace heads home after dropping her daughter off, looking forward to some time to herself to think, but back at the house, she finds some odd things about her new husband. And her new husband has volunteered to help out and chaperone in the woods.
From the opening pages, the book has a dark, foreboding atmosphere, which ratchets up the tension. The light is dim, two of the kids are described as groping each other, the man driving them breathes in her face while she’s blindfolded… We’re primed for something to happen and the plot gets to the point and the action really quickly. Which I like. The book is full of little breadcrumbs of backstory and each chapter takes us somewhere in the path of the plot. The book isn’t superlong, and it’s really tightly plotted. There’s no wasted words and plenty of twists and turns as Grace starts to piece things together and Karin tries to find her way.
This is such a neat idea for a novel, the dropping rite of passage and the kids in the woods. I was so curious about what was going to happen. It went to a few places that I didn’t expect and the journey as it unfolds is just as interesting as the ending. I don’t want to say too much and give anything away, but this book doesn’t fall into the traps that a lot of domestic thrillers do. It feels quite grounded, while some of the events are heightened. Some domestic thrillers can get a bit silly, but this all felt like something you might read about in an Ann Rule book or see on Forensic Files. It’s really tightly plotted and doesn’t waste time, and none of the leads are mawkish. I enjoyed this quite a lot and if you like this kind of genre, I recommend it.
Read It If: An intriguing premise, tight narrative and plotting and fast paced. This is a domestic thriller that delivers and entertains.
Thank you Hachette Canada for the copy of this book for review. You’ll Thank Me For This is out now.