Saturday, 25 April 2015

Book Review: THE LIE by C. L. Taylor

The Lie by C.L. Taylor

The Lie
Author: C. L. Taylor
Publisher: HarperCollins UK, Avon
Read: April 2015

Synopsis (Goodreads):

I know your name's not really Jane Hughes...

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She's happier than she's ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won't stop until they've destroyed Jane and everything she loves...

My thoughts:

The book starts with Jane Hughes, a quiet young woman who works in an animal shelter in rural Wales, but who, as the reader soon finds out, is hiding from a dark event in her past. Five years ago her name was Emma Woolfe, and she was about to set off on the trip of a lifetime to a remote mountain retreat in Nepal with her three best friends Leanne, Al and Daisy. All four woman each come with some emotional baggage which largely determines the dynamics which hold their friendship together. At first, the Ekanta Yatra Retreat looks like just the place to get away from it all – set in a quiet, remote and picturesque place in the mountains there are none of the distractions of modern society, like internet or mobile phone reception. It provides the perfect escape – for Emma from a boring job and her overbearing family, for Al from a failed relationship, for Daisy as an opportunity for adventure. But it soon becomes obvious to Emma that there are strange things going on at the retreat, and it may not be the peaceful getaway that they had hoped for. With Leanne and Daisy dismissing Emma’s fears, their friendship soon becomes strained and starts to unravel. And by the time Al has also realised that things are going wrong, the isolation they so treasured has suddenly become a trap.

The story is set in dual timelines, switching back and forth between Jane’s present life and the events which claimed the lives of two friends five years ago. Whilst Jane’s life is quite plain and she comes across as a bit too naive considering the experiences in her past, the story of the girls’ trip to Nepal is chilling and disturbing and soon drew me in. None of the characters are particularly likeable, which however does not present an obstacle to enjoying the story – quite the opposite. The author knows how to explore the dynamics behind the rather dysfunctional friendship of four young women who each bring their own baggage and agendas into the mix. I loved the way the author describes the slow unravelling of the friendship, the stripping away of pretences, the unmasking of the women’s true personalities as they find themselves in a dangerous situation. Step by step the reader gets drawn deeper into the abyss, and some aspects of the story are quite disturbing and chilling. Anyone who has ever travelled with a group of friends where things have not gone quite as planned will be able to recognise aspects of the women’s changing relationships as each tries to adapt to the situation in different ways and manipulate people and circumstances to fit their own agendas. Or allow themselves to be manipulated by someone who uses the ever widening cracks in their friendship for his own purposes, like their charismatic but dangerous host Isaac. Once Emma discovers the true nature of the Ekanta Yatra retreat, it is already too late to make a clean escape.

For me, the story was driven by the different characters and the group dynamics the author describes so well, which made the present-day part of the story a little bit slow and less interesting, even with the new threat Jane has to face. It took me a little while to get into the book, but by the time the girls had arrived in Nepal and things started to go wrong, I was hooked on the rollercoaster ride of tension, mistrust and fear the author has created. Tense and atmospheric, The Lie makes for a suspenseful and interesting read. This is my first book by C. L. Taylor and I look forward to reading more from this author.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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