Book Review: The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes

“When I think about that morning, it is beat by beat, like a heart – my own hear, my daughter’s, at the time so enmeshed it seemed she was part of me: my body, my tissue, my bones. She is part of me. She will always be part of me.”

Set to be released on 23rd October, The Housewarming by S.E. Lynesa follows a grieving mother, Ava, who is struggling to accept that her daughter is missing. She only left her in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone. A year later, her neighbours throw a housewarming party, showing off the results of their renovation. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. But is she finally about to find out the truth about the day she has relived a thousand times? Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day. She’s about to find out she was wrong…

Rating:

Thank you to NetGalley for a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Housewarming is a heart-wrenching story that gripped me from start to finish, and I’ve been thinking about it for days. Incredibly well written and emotionally-driven, it’s a well-paced story with a shocking turn of events, and I highly recommend you give this one a read!

From the opening paragraphs alone, I instantly knew this was going to be a book that I loved. I related to Ava immediately. It’s tough being a mother. Like Ava, I cherish the brief moments of peace you manage to find during the day, whether it be doing a menial task or scrolling through your social media, to enjoy a few minutes of silence and take a moment to breathe. But I also know how all the while, you’re thinking about how anything can happen in those few minutes of silence, and that worry is always in the back of your mind.

For Ava, it was in these extra few minutes that she took for herself that this ordeal occurred. Abi went missing. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, one that even the thought of fills my stomach with dread. The story is enough to invest any reader, and Ava’s pain is so raw that you can feel every ounce of it.

The narrative is a little repetitive at times as it rushes through Ava’s thoughts as she tortures herself over and over again by going over every tiny detail, but this represents her mindset brilliantly. This fast-paced and slightly fragmented narrative also helps to build up the suspense, as Ava doesn’t give everything away straight away. You become desperate to know, desperate for a bit of good news along the way or for a glimpse of hope.

I sympathised with Matt and Neil, too, and appreciate that Lynes took the time to see how Abi’s disappearance affected so many others. It’s an excellent exploration of grief and blame, as well as the need for answers in a situation that nobody ever wants to find themselves in.

The Housewarming gripped me completely, and the closing chapters are just as good as the first. There’s so much more going on than the one thing you’re trying to predict. I thought I had sussed it at one point, but I couldn’t have guessed the domino effect of a single act that escalated on that day.

And although there are many twists in the closing chapters, you can see all of the hints and minor developments that pointed towards this outcome when you look back at it. Lynes does a brilliant job of this, ensuring that the story keeps you guessing but that it all clicks into place perfectly when the events are re-examined.

I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. I haven’t felt this invested in a story in a long time and will certainly be seeking out more from S.E. Lynes.

About Charlie Morris

Proofreader and film blogger living in Cornwall.

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