Thanks to NetGalley and Gallery/Scout Press for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.
So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel–a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together, they write and illustrate award-winning winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease–until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what had driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
Oh my gosh. Although I requested this, I have to be honest and say as soon as I was approved, I started having second thoughts. I absolutely loved the premise, but wondered how on earth Liz Nugent could possibly tell such a complicated story in under 300 pages. Well, not only does she pull this off, she does it brilliantly!
As the premise states, every chapter is from the POV of a different person who has come into contact with Oliver and Alice in some way. All of these voices have something important to add, even if you don’t originally think so. I mean, do we really have to hear from neighbors, childhood schoolmates, ex-lovers, and so on?. Yes. Yes we do. You see, every character adds to the puzzle that is Oliver, and their voices are all completely distinct from one another. The most chilling chapters are from Oliver himself, and I actually got goosebumps while reading. I connected with every single one of them, which itself is pretty amazing.
The story is filled with moments that shocked me, and it’s so cleverly told that it’s only at the very end that you see the entire picture. Unraveling Oliver is a captivating journey into the psyche of a monster, as well as the people whose lives are forever changed by being in contact with him. It would be a perfect choice for a book discussion group as it invites debate over the nature vs nurture question. I highly recommend this to fans of dark psychological suspense. I cannot wait to see what Liz Nugent comes out with next!