Category Archives: Hancock;Penny

Book Review : Kept in the Dark

Yeah! It is almost Halloween! I love Halloween mostly because my girls are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. We will be escorting Princess Ariel and a princess vampire around for candy treats this year ( don’t worry I will post pictures…). I haven’t decided if I want to dress up or not. This year I have mostly decided to channel my Halloween urges into decorating the house in a spooky yet elegant manner. I did some fun things in the dining room that I will post on Wednesday.

On to the book review….I had read this book over my long hiatus and somewhat forgotten it. But as I’ve been reading other blogs with lists of creepy or horror novels to read, my mind had a flash and I remembered this book. Kept in the Dark reminded me of Before I Go To Sleep and The Collector – you know psychological suspense type thriller novels. Since I didn’t really have a “horror” book to review for this Halloween week, I thought I would share my thoughts on this one.

Title : Kept in the Dark (also published as Tideline in England)

Author : Penny Hancock

Three Words : psychological, suspenseful, disturbing

Red Flags : Drug use, sexual situations, violence… not appropriate for children

The book begins with Sonia opening the door and inviting in fifteen-year old Jez, who is there to borrow a record from her husband. As she talks to the boy, Sonia becomes convinced that she doesn’t want him to leave and just decides to keep him there. Sounds crazy but that is literally what happens in the first chapter. Jez is the nephew of a family friend – an alcoholic woman with problems of her own. She isn’t convinces that he is missing but reluctantly begins to search for him. She never suspects that Sonia has taken Jez. After all, Sonia is wealthy and attractive, a successful voice coach who has been seeminlyg happily married for more than twenty years. As the search for Jez intensifies, Sonia must devise ways to keep Jez in her control and hidden from the world, while dealing with the memories of the terrible truth of her childhood. Why is she keeping this boy? How far will she go? Will Jez ever go home to his family? What is Sonia’s secret past?

I enjoyed this book although occassionally it felt a little slow. It succeeded in conveying the “banality of evil” (as Hannah Arendt called it). Sonia isn’t all crazy Hannibal Lecter-y style. In her mind, all of her actions are completely reasonable – she needs to keep Jez and that is all there is to it. In every instance, she simply decides to go through with ever more horrific actions. Also, the terrible secret of her past is pretty crazy – I did not see that coming at all. Jez’s aunt is not the most sympathetic character in the world, she is an alcoholic who feels like everyone is over-reacting when they are concerned by Jez’s disappearance. She is so self-absorbed with her own issues and problems, it is difficult to connect with her or sympathize with her on any level.

The biggest problem I had with this book was the pace of the writing. It was a pretty slow buildup to the final events. Sometimes, I just wanted to scream “Alright! Get on with it!” In the end , I was glad I stuck with the book and found out the secret because that really made me feel all creepy and disturbed inside. One of those books, I just think about for a couple of days which is one of my favorite feellings. I would give this book eight shoes – my black knee high boots which I love, but they have a boxy toe on them so sometimes I feel like they look a little old-fashioned but I digress.

What creepy books do you recommend for Halloween? Has anyone read this one?

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