Tuesday, January 16, 2018

White Bodies ~ Jane Robins (earc) review [@alfresca @TouchstoneBooks]

White Bodies
September 19, 2017
297 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

This chilling psychological suspense novel--think Strangers on a Train for the modern age--explores the dark side of love and the unbreakable ties that bind two sisters together.

Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple: young and in love, a financier and a beautiful up-and-coming starlet. But behind their flawless facade, not everything is as it seems.

Callie, Tilda's unassuming twin, has watched her sister visibly shrink under Felix's domineering love. She has looked on silently as Tilda stopped working, nearly stopped eating, and turned into a neat freak, with mugs wrapped in Saran Wrap and suspicious syringes hidden in the bathroom trash. She knows about Felix's uncontrollable rages, and has seen the bruises on the white skin of her sister's arms.

Worried about the psychological hold that Felix seems to have over Tilda, Callie joins an Internet support group for victims of abuse and their friends. However, things spiral out of control and she starts to doubt her own judgment when one of her new acquaintances is killed by an abusive man. And then suddenly Felix dies--or was he murdered?

A page-turning work of suspense that announces a stunning new voice in fiction, White Bodies will change the way you think about obsession, love, and the violence we inflict on one another--and ourselves.

Have you ever read a book where you really, really wished the characters were real and not just fictional? Well, White Bodies is not that book. And these characters are certainly not those characters. Callie and Tilda and the others are more the characters you are really glad are fictional and not someone you might encounter in life. (Though, there are people very much like them . . .)

Callie's fascination with or fixation on her prettier, more popular, more everything twin sister Tilda manifests in some really, really strange ways. Like really strange.

The author does a great job making you unsure of just how out there Callie really is. Yes, she does odd things, but how much of her interpretations or observations or decisions can really be trusted? How many of them are right because of who she is and how she feels about her sister? How many might be right in spite of it?

Even, later in the novel, as I had a better grasp on who Callie was and how she was viewing the world, some of her decisions and statements really did not make sense. (Even for her character.) Things she said or wanted/planned to do were such obviously horrible, wrong choices if she truly believed her sister was being abused. 

The relationship between Callie and Tilda (and their mother, friends and a boyfriend) was weird, creepy, unsettling and, often, confusing. Yet, it did make for a compelling story. Even when I was beyond irritated with Callie, I had to keep reading to find out what happened, to find out the truth - and not just one character's version of i.

The last parts of the book were really well done. Things are more twisted and startling than you expect and it's hard to know what the characters will do - or have done. I liked the inclusion/mentions of Strangers on a Train, Rebecca, My Cousin Rachel and Hitchcock. Callie's character did not always work for me but this is a very compelling, twisty read with dark, weird, disturbing relationships that all keep you guessing until the end.

digital review copy received thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley

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