Disclaimer: I received a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Caroline Eriksson is a Swedish author with two previously released novels. The Watcher is Eriksson's second psychological thriller and her second novel to be translated into English. With a master's degree in social psychology, Eriksson is the perfect author to explore the inner workings of the mind.
The Watcher is one of the newest entrants into the female-led psychological thriller. Like many books in the genre, The Watcher features a female main character who is somewhat alienated from friends and family. It's a familiar, and comfortable, starting point for fans of the genre.
The main character, Elena, has just moved into a new home following the crumbling of her marriage. Elena and her husband have agreed to a trial separation; no contact for three months. Home alone with her books and laptop, author Elena finds herself drifting from room to room, somehow keeping herself busy despite a lack of work, social commitments, and slowly crippling insomnia. Boredom, loneliness, and prompting from her sister to begin her next novel, leads Elena to take particular interest in her neighbours across the way.
"Some authors believe the story chooses them and not the other way around."
Watching her neighbours begins as an innocent activity, but Elena is quickly drawn into the private lives of the Storms. As an author, Elena knows the old adage - "write what you know". And what's better inspiration than the beautiful and mysterious couple next door?
But the more she watches, the more Elena realises that she might be witness to a volatile marriage. How far will a wife go?
While Elena's investigations lead the reader to question the goings-on of her neighbours, it also leads us to question her state of mind. Is her creative writing impacting her ability to see things clearly? Is her loneliness to blame for her increasingly erratic behaviour?
"Your fixation with the neighbors doesn't really seem healthy. It's like you're focusing on them instead of dealing with your own problems."
Eriksson does a great job of illustrating Elena's empty existence while moving the plot forward. Naturally, the first section of the book moves slowly, settling the reader into Elena's mundane existence. It's the mystery of the house next door, the unsettling sense of danger, and Elena's slow unravelling that draws the reader to the last half, where The Watcher takes off.
At the 60% mark, The Watcher hits the ground running and doesn't let up until the final pages. It almost felt like the start lulled the reader into comfort before administering a shot of adrenaline to both Elena and the reader, creating a thrilling pace.
Structure and alternate points-of-view, unfortunately, take away from the novel in an attempt to seem tricky. At first I didn't mind it, but by the end of The Watcher, I found the point-of-view to detract from the important moments. It is, however, an interesting take on story structure.
The Watcher is one to watch for fans of Swedish crime novels and female-led psychological thrillers. Erikkson has planted a steady foot in these two popular genres and will be an author to watch for English readers.
Why Read This Book?
- Female author
- Female main character
- Psychological aspects
- Swedish author
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