The book opens when Ellen Saint sees Kieran standing on the rooftop terrace of a building. How is this possible? She KNOWS he died two years ago. Seeing Kieran creates a rage in her that can’t be extinguished. How is it possible this monster is still walking the earth and what will she do about it?
From here we go back in time to when Ellen and her family meet Kieran. She considers him the catalyst that sent her family down a path of pain and destruction. Kieran ends up paying for his actions but it’s not enough for Ellen so she starts a public campaign to destroy him in the court of public opinion. No punishment is enough for Ellen. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away here because most of the pleasure of reading this novel was in seeing the story unfold.
Ellen is a flawed and most unpleasant and unlikable person. You’ve heard the saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”? In Ellen’s case, no amount of time will cool the burning hot fire of hatred and her desire for revenge. Is Ellen’s hatred clouding her judgement and blinding her to the flaws in her own family? Her sighting of Kiernan sets in motion a series of events that ends in an explosive and surprising ending.
The most compelling question I had: Is Ellen’s hatred of Kieran clouding her judgment and blinding her to the flaws within her own family?
Told in four parts, Part One details the events that destroyed her family, Part Two tells the story from the POV of Vic, Ellen’s ex-husband, and Part Three is the current day. Interspersed throughout the book are magazine article and book excerpts, while Part Four is the explosive ending. Each part adds missing pieces and gives the reader more insight. Where does the truth lie? No one is likable so if that is a requirement then it’s best to steer clear.
Ellen also suffers from a condition known as High Place phenomenon, which is an urge to jump from a high place. Her fear and obsessive thoughts add to the tension as a counterpoint to her obsession with Kieran. I was kept on my toes and although I got a few things right, there were still surprises in store. This could be considered a slow burn but I enjoy strong character-driven novels so I loved this aspect of the story.
A buddy read with my friend, Marialyce, we both found this to be interesting and entertaining, as well as thought-provoking. This was my first book by this author and won’t be my last.
Hate, it consumes one, makes you irrational, unable to use common sense, morals, and humanity while it drives deeper into your heart, mind, and soul.
When thinking of the character, Ellen Saint, I picture a ball of fire, consuming her every minute of every day. True Ellen and her ex-mate, Vic have a valid reason for hating Kiernan, a new friend of their son, Lucas, and believe Kiernan to have been the devil who led their son done a path to drugs, partying. After all, Lucas had been an angel of a son before Kiernan entered the picture. However, there was much more to the story of Kiernan, who seemed to immediately feel that Ellen would be his nemesis forever.
There were many things that made me grate my teeth about the parenting skills of Ellen, Vic, and her new husband. They seemed to omit the word “no” from their parental dictionary and one might call their skills (or lack thereof) progressive.
As foretold tragedy happens, when the car Kiernan is driving plunges into the water and Ellen is seething and as Kiernan is tried and sentenced to two years in jail, she demands more. She sets up on online group that demands longer sentences for crimes such as these, and of course attracts all the hate filled followers she can.(sounds like our social media platforms these days) In the meantime, her relationship with Vic has fallen apart, and she has met, married, and has a daughter with her new husband (aptly named Saint btw)
Time is a great healer they say, but in Ellen’s case, time only fuels the fire raging within her especially when one day she catches a glimpse of Kiernan in a building’s penthouse garden. She is appalled, nearly slipping out of her skin, for she knows that Kiernan is dead or so she thought. She and Vic had had taken care of this, had they not? What or how is Kiernan still walking the planet? Hell has not opened up and consumed him.
All this leads to a roundabout story of revenge that had five years to smolder, but burns ever so bright now. Ellen will have her revenge. She will make sure his life is one that ends in whatever way she can arrange.
There are lots of twists which set this story up to be an intriguing read, and although it had some holes, the web of the story held true. Jan and I enjoyed our foray into Ellen’s madness. There are never any guarantees that once revenge is accomplished that one will feel better. For Ellen, her end seems to make things come round full circle as she exchanges places with the boy she came to abhor.
Thanks to Louise Candish, Atria, and Edelweiss for a copy of this story that will publish March 1, 2022