Hannah knows the cage intimately. Small, the size of a shopping mall parking space. A bed, a basin, a table and chair. A hatch and metal drawer through which to exchange food and other items.
Then there’s him. Always there on the edges of her vision, no matter how hard she tries to block him out.
Every day, the same thoughts run through Hannah’s mind:
What if he speaks to me?
What if he hurts me?
What if he gets out?
Hi and welcome to my review of The Captive! Huge thanks to Tracy Fenton for the invite and to Zaffre Books for the gorgeous proof copy!
The Captive is set in the near future, the main element setting it apart from the world as we know it is its reformed penal system, under which convicts are now doing their time in the homes of their victims, their victims’ families or an unrelated Foster Host.
As such, Jem, the man convicted of the murder on Hannah’s husband, is coming to live with her, in his own little cell in her kitchen. Take a minute to picture this. Can you imagine?! My home is my haven, my safe space, I would NOT want to come home every day and have to look at the person responsible for my grief and misery! And Hannah has it even worse: she’s a baker, her kitchen is where she spends all of her time, there is no escaping the captive. Which is exactly the point of this so-called restorative justice. And just like that, in the span of just a few short chapters, The Captive had my mind whirring and my heart thumping.
Hannah misses her husband something fierce and having Jem there, watching her every move, feels like she’s the one being punished. The odd conversation is unavoidable, and Jem not only tells her that he’s innocent – of course he would say that, wouldn’t he – but also that the hubby was not the man she thought he was, and her marriage less than perfect. Is Jem telling the truth or is he scheming? Hannah doesn’t know and neither does the reader. Even the chapters told from Jem’s POV bring no solace: things only got curiouser and curiouser. I hated it and I loved it.
With every other chapter not only leaving questions unanswered but creating new ones, the real captive was me. The plot thickening with every page I turned, this was an absolute delight to read. The kind of book you’re reluctant to put down and genuinely happy to pick back up. Recovering from a book hangover, I had been struggling with my reading, nothing quite up to the task of keeping me entertained, but The Captive snapped me right out of it, reminding me that reading is supposed to be fun (even if you can’t quite figure out the plot).
After My Husband’s Son and The Dangerous Kind, The Captive is Deborah O’Connor’s third standalone novel, and my favourite one to date. A novel premise, great writing, excellent characterisation, so much mystery and so thought-provoking I ended up having whole discussions about it with the hubby (not a fiction reader himself but happily awaiting the film this book will be turned into if filmmakers know what’s good for them). I have so many thoughts and so many feelings but I can’t tell you about them, because I don’t want to spoil things, ugh! Read it so we can talk!!
The Captive takes a wild and wildly exciting premise and runs with it, flawless execution bringing it home. A superb thriller, highly recommended!