Gone Girl meets Room in this page-turning thriller from one of Germany’s hottest new talents
A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: Meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.
One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace 14 years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle which doesn’t quite seem to fit.
Hi and welcome to my review of Dear Child! Huge thanks to Hannah Robinson @ Quercus Books for the proof copy!
Dear Child is Romy Hausmann’s debut thriller and it’s described as “Gone Girl meets Room”. I loved both Gone Girl and Room, different though they may be, so obviously I was more than a little excited to read Dear Child and I went in with pretty high expectations. Part of me was preparing for a fall, on account of those high expectations, but Dear Child did not disappoint, it grabbed me from the start and I remained entertained and invested throughout.
In my opinion, that is what differentiates an okay thriller from a great one: the degree to which the reader is invested in the story and the characters’ well-being. And let me tell you, with Dear Child I was all in! Dear Child has all the ingredients to draw the reader in: a frail yet strong main character you can’t help but root for, two poor little mites of children you desperately want to help (and hug), a doting father who will go to whatever lengths he deems necessary, secrets and tons of mystery, abduction, murder, suspense, … And Hausmann manages to combine all these rather common elements into a riveting story that never feels formulaic.
Over a decade ago, 23-year-old Lena Beck disappeared from the face of the earth. Her disappearance caused quite a stir, was she in fact the good girl and grade A student her parents believed her to be or was she a wild child out of control? Now, a woman matching Lena’s description has been hit by a car after fleeing from a shack in the woods where she’s been kept against her will. She is brought to hospital and although she will make a full recovery, she’s not out of the woods yet.
Written from 3 different perspectives, Dear Child tells a story of abduction and abuse, of power and love, of human resilience. Part of the story is set in the shack in the woods, these scenes are very similar in vibe to Room. Note that actual abuse scenes are rare, and there is no child abuse as such – but let’s face it, keeping your children locked up in a shack in the woods is hardly going to make you father of the year, even if it’s all they’ve ever known and they love you no matter what.
Dear Child is a captivating psychological thriller with characters I loved and characters I loved to hate. I never suspected the right person and the finale brought the closure I needed. Recommended.