Release date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: Lake Union
Emotionally guarded Daphne Amos always believed she’d found a kindred spirit in her fiancé, Heath. Both very private people, they’ve kept their pasts hidden from the world, and each other, until Heath’s escalating nightmares begin to put an undeniable strain on their relationship. Determined to give their impending marriage the best chance of succeeding, Heath insists that Daphne join him on a seven-day retreat with Dr. Matthew Cerny, a psychologist celebrated for getting to the root of repressed memories. Daphne reluctantly agrees—even though the past is the last place she wants to go.
The retreat’s isolated and forbidding location increases her unease, as do the doctor’s rules: they must relinquish their keys and phones, they’ll be monitored at all hours by hidden cameras, and they’re never to socialize with the other guests.
One sleepless night, Daphne decides to leave her room…and only then does she realize that the institute is not at all what it seems—and that whatever’s crying out from Heath’s past isn’t meant to be heard. It’s meant to be silenced.
There is something compulsively readable about Emily Carpenter’s books, once I start them I have a difficult time putting them down. She creates the creepiest, most eerily atmospheric settings and she writes so well you find yourself completely immersed in the story, it’s as if you’re actually inside it yourself and experiencing it with the characters. It’s an unsettling experience to say the least, but one I wholeheartedly enjoy.
The whole idea of a couples retreat that focuses on therapy is unappealing to me and then when you throw in a weird atmosphere with uneasiness oozing from the pages? That’s a hard no from me, and Daphne had similar feelings but she went despite her reservations. You see, no one has ever understood her quite like Heath does, they have a hard and fast rule where they don’t discuss their pasts, ever, and this works for both of them. Until now. Until Daphne decides maybe it’s time to share her secrets with Heath and in turn he may share his as well. I loved knowing that they both had skeletons in their closets but not knowing what they were, it kept me extremely engaged and doubtful of the pair of them. I never could decide if I actually liked either of them, but they were both interesting, mysterious and highly complex.
Another thing that Carpenter excels at is the way the structures her books. The Weight of Lies had a book within a book, SO cool, and this time around she worked with flashbacks. You know how oftentimes flashbacks read as disjointed or confusing? Not the case here, it starts with a prologue that immediately reels you in and then skips back to a week earlier. It flips back and forth until the days catch up to each other and everything culminates in a shocking ending. Interspersed between these time jumps you slowly find out about Daphne’s past, Carpenter gives you a little tasty morsel to whet your appetite and then she cuts you off again, WHY does that work so well for me?! It just does, it has me hanging onto over single word, dying to know what will be revealed next.
I said Carpenter was the queen of southern gothic fiction in my review of her last book and that still stands here, she is immensely talented and she has a firm fan in me. I haven’t read any recent others that write quite like and I mean that as a huge compliment, she stands out from the crowd.
Every Single Secret in three words: Unsettling, Surprising and Absorbing.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.