Monday, 12 May 2014

The Book of You by Claire Kendal

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. 
He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. 
He is always there. 
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. 
But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand. 
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

The Book of You by Claire Kendal was published in hardback in the UK by Harper Collins on 24 April 2014, the paperback will be released early next year.  The Book of You is Claire Kendal's first novel.

This is one hell of a scary story, the creepiness of Rafe really does seep into the brain whilst reading and I for one, became more than a little jumpy whilst I was reading it. Prepare to find yourself peering around corners and off into the distance, who knows who is following you?

Clarissa is a vulnerable woman. Just out of a very difficult relationship during which her failure to conceive battered her feelings of self-worth almost beyond repair, she's frail and suffering.  Rafe is a colleague, someone who she never really took any notice of until the party for his book launch. That night, Clarissa slept with Rafe. The memories are a little hazy, she felt terrible afterwards and was really concerned by the marks and bruises on her body.

Rafe is obsessed. He is convinced that he and Clarissa have a future; that she adores him. Everywhere that Clarissa goes; Rafe is there. His behaviour includes stealing her empty yoghurt pot to sending expensive gifts. He ingratiates himself with her closest friends, managing to make them think that Clarissa is unhinged.

The information leaflets from the stalker organisations advise that Clarissa should record everything, and so she begins 'The Book of You'; a notepad in which she records every painful details of Rafe's obsession.

When Clarissa is called for jury service, she is relieved. This is her chance to get away from Rafe, in a place that he can't get to her. However, the court case brings it's own terrors for Clarissa. Some of the details are startlingly like her own situation and witnessing how the defending solicitors treat the alleged victim only shows Clarissa just how difficult it can be to be believed ... by anyone.  The spell in the court room also introduces Clarissa to Robert; strong, handsome, hero fireman. Robert is the total opposite of Rafe, and Clarissa soon finds herself welcoming their daily chats .... and more.

Claire Kendal has very cleverly portrayed the increasing terror and frailty of Clarissa. She writes with ease, keeping the story moving along quickly and using Clarissa's diary notes along with narrative from the present time to create more depth to the plot.

The frustration felt by Clarissa as Rafe ups his game and his behaviour becomes increasingly more bizarre and more terrifying is felt by the reader on every page. The author is excellent at creating tension and unease, and although Clarissa is clearly at the very edge and often makes dubious choices, the reader really does shout for her along the way.

The Book of You is tense and chilling. It is fast paced and oozing with suspense and fear. With an ending that leaves the reader guessing, this is a very good psychological thriller. Claire Kendal is certainly an author to watch out for.

Claire Kendal was born in America and educated in England, where she has spent all of her adult life. The Book of You is her first novel. It will be translated into over a dozen languages. Claire teaches English Literature and Creative Writing, and lives in the South West with her family. She is working on her next psychological thriller.

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  1. I really liked this one, 4/5 for me. She is penning her next so I look forward to it. Totally agree with your views Anne and this book stayed with me after I finished it, scary how easily this could happen to anyone