It begins, they say, with a woman screaming…
On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace.
For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: night-time intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched.
The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand, and all-too-real – but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?
While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt. Published by Harper Collins, March 2018(?), 400 pages. I received my copy from Pegasus Books on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Ok, so… I will go ahead and start with the things that I didn’t like and get them out of the way first.
The main character, Zoe, was… not very likeable at all. I understand she was going through an incredibly hard time, but she was just…ugh. She treated her husband pretty crappy. She made him out to be this horrible person. At the end of the book, she goes back to being with him, but it doesn’t really feel like she wants to be with him at all. She is also extremely selfish. Pretty much every action she has is selfish and it got extremely annoying. And then to make an already unlikable character even more unlikable, she was one of those sort of people who bit the head off of any guy who tried to be nice and help her. There were a lot of times when something like this happened:
*Man goes to open and hold the door for Zoe*
Zoe- “What is that supposed to mean!? Are you trying to say I can’t hold my own door open?? Women are just as capable as a man at holding doors open!! *angry face* ”
That wasn’t an actual scene, but stuff similar to it happened. A lot. Zoe had her tail in such a twist any time a guy did anything or said anything to her. I get that she felt marginalized by her husband, but that doesn’t mean she has to be such a huge jerk to every man on the planet. It just got so frustrating watching her act like that through basically the whole book. She never won me over and I didn’t really find myself caring about her at all.
The other thing that bugged me about this book was that there were several erotic scenes that were just a big “No thank you”. I understand that there was a sexual desire entity about/ in the house, but I don’t know… sometimes it just felt like too much unsatisfying sexual angst that was only a few steps away from rape. I seriously didn’t need to hear about Zoe’s swollen, sore, moist groin that much. In fact, I was pretty good never having to hear that from her at all. It wasn’t a heavily erotic book, but there was enough there that it was a turn off for me. I am not a fan of that sort of stuff at all, but if you like reading things along those lines, you might enjoy this book more then I did.
I did enjoy the premise. I didn’t really see it as much of a psychological thriller, but more of a modern gothic romance. Pretty interesting history attached to the house and I did have fun watching that part of the story unfold. You really had two mysteries to follow, the history of the original house owner, and that of a young boy who went missing the year before Zoe moved in. While the mystery about the missing boy was kind of predictable, it was still a fun mystery to follow to the end.
I did not like the very ending of the book. While most of the book left you unsure what was really going on, the very ending felt too predictable. You could guess a million miles away about Zoe’s secrets and what had happened to the lost boy. For most of the book, the writing was really well done, but the ending was just too convenient and tacked on feeling. And, as I said earlier, Zoe makes choices to go back to someone she seemed to really dislike, so it was pretty WTF. Like, you ran away to escape and caused all this drama, and then you just go back home like nothing happened?? What was the point then? What did she learn? How did any of this help her?
I know it sounds like I must have hated While You Sleep, but I didn’t. But I didn’t love it either. It had a nice gothic element too it and some interesting lore. I just wished the main character was more likeable and that the erotic sexy time angst was dialed back a little. That, and with a slightly different ending, this could have been a really good book instead of just an ok book.