Black Mirror meets Before I Go to Sleep by way of Severance
When you wake up without your memories, who can you really trust?
Pioneering scientist Iris Henderson chose to be her own first test-subject for an experimental therapy, placing a piece of technology into her brain. At least, this is what everyone tells her. Trouble is, Iris is now without her memories so she doesn’t know what the therapy is or why she would ever decide to volunteer for it.
Everyone warns her to leave it alone, but Iris doesn’t know who to trust. As she scratches beneath the surface of her seemingly happy marriage and successful career, a catastrophic chain of events is set in motion. Secrets will be revealed that have the capacity to destroy her whole life, but Iris can’t stop digging.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Glass Woman!
To be honest, they had me at Black Mirror. As regular readers of my blog may know: compare a book to that show and I’m there for it with bells on. Truth be told, that doesn’t always work out, it’s an easy reference to make but the Black Mirror vibe I crave is not always as present as I’d like. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with The Glass Woman. As a matter of fact, I think this would make a great episode!
The Glass Woman follows Iris who wakes up in a hospital room after some sort of AI device has been implanted into her brain to make her forget traumatic memories. The thing is, when she wakes up, she suffers from retrograde amnesia, so she can remember very little at all. Who even is she? Who is the man claiming to be her husband? Why on earth would she sign up for this type of treatment? She has a limited timeframe to recover her unwittingly lost memories, before the AI in her mind is fully integrated and they’ll be lost forever. And obviously, if you can’t remember what was so traumatising that you wanted it out of your head forever, all you can think about is what it might have been.
The Glass Woman is rather light on the technical details, and to be honest, that’s usually the way I prefer my technological / sci-fi thrillers. I don’t need to be bombarded with loads of scientific details, I am not science-minded at all. Moreover, bar a few exceptions such as Blake Crouch, when things get too technical, I feel it’s often to the detriment of the story.
The Glass Woman was a rather claustrophobic read for me, because you spend so much time in Iris’s mind, there are few other characters and you never know what’s going on with any of them, only Iris. You don’t know if she’s paranoid or absolutely right to be afraid, but her scared and confused thoughts and snippets of memories add to the feeling of claustrophobia.
Then again, who wouldn’t be scared or paranoid? I read lots of horror novels, none of them are even remotely as scary as what happens to Iris. The only voice I want in my head is my own, thank you very much. (It’s hard enough to make that one shut up 😬😂) So who wouldn’t flip out when there’s suddenly a presence in your head that wasn’t there before. Telling you what to remember, what to forget, what to do and what not to. While the person who should have your back, your other half, is being evasive at best and secretive at worst. And who the hell is Dorian?! Omnipresent, yet never seen. It drove me crazy!
When I’m caught up in a book, I usually have at least one working theory, often I have multiple. The Glass Woman? None. I had no idea what was going on and it annoyed me to no end. I did not have the faintest idea where this story might end up. I had no choice but to follow where it led, and man, it was down one hell of a dark and twisty little backstreet.
I had a really good time with The Glass Woman, even if it did get on my nerves that I couldn’t make sense of things. The Glass Woman is a thought-provoking and entertaining psychological / technological thriller and an impressive debut. I can’t wait to find out what this author will do next.
The Glass Woman is out in digital formats on 2 January 2024 and in paperback on the 9th.
Massive thanks to Datura Books and NetGalley for the eARC. All opinions are my own.