“I remember being held under water, my face just inches under the surface, eyes bulging and air so close and inviting that I opened my mouth to breathe…”
In BEAUTIFUL BAD (out March 19th), Maddie (a travel writer and English teacher), Ian (who works in The British Army) and their son Charlie are living the perfect life in a suburb in Kansas City. But when a mysterious accident while camping in Colorado leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD, and her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie.
To sum up Maddie’s character, she is a mother who suffers a traumatic brain injury due to a camping accident. She forgets to do things, the words she picks are wrong, she can easily be frightened and panic attacks are something she encounters very often. We understand that this accident had damaged her face and her eye very badly, and that’s when we’re able to start suspecting that there might be more to her “accident” than we think, and the concept of the book begins to progressively shape up from that moment on. And the author almost never lets you move on to the next chapter without a chilling line that precedes it.
In this storyline, we are given three timelines:
– The Day of The Killing: featuring the main event, where a daunting 911 call is made.
– 12 weeks prior to that day
– About two decades earlier: where we become acquainted with how our couple Maddie and Ian met.
The book opens with a scene filled with horror – representing The Day of The Killing – featuring a 911 call made by a mother who, as far as we know, is urging her child to “go hide upstairs” and the police officer on the other line to come to her rescue right before her phone clatters to the floor and the line dies.
And then the book continues with a slow pace, so what follows during the upcoming pages are events where we get to know our characters and begin to form our suspicions and knowledge of what truly is going between the mother, her husband, son, and closest friend. But you can also feel the on-going suspense like a soundtrack in your head preparing you for what’s to come. Once you get past your first hundred pages, BEAUTIFUL BAD comes back to its full action-packed mode, it pauses and then continues withmaximum doses of suspense, all while maintaining excellent writing.
The scenes from The Day of Killing come in small portions throughout the book, but when they do, they are raw, powerful and will compel you to stick around for the very final reveal. When this main event isn’t occurring, we are offered detailed backgrounds of each of the characters, what makes them who they are now, how they met and the nature of the relationships they share. So the author lets us readers guess and form our suspicions about what could’ve possibly gone wrong in this seemingly perfect marriage!
Now, you must understand that there are lots and lots of flashbacks to the time when Ian and Maddie just started seeing each other, and you might wonder what purpose those parts of the book could possibly serve, but when all is revealed, you’ll find that they’re an essential factor that subconsciously makes you understand why this read ends the way it does, and the ending also contains a couple references to that particular timeline.
At approximately the third half of the book, we are rewarded with a thorough account of what really happened on the day of that chilling 911 call.
You see, that’s when things get a lot more interesting, because you start to get a hunch that things aren’t exactly over yet. That’s when stay-up-all-night, hard-to-forget revelations begin to pile up unstoppably one after the other!
In a nutshell, the ending is bone-chilling!!
On the other hand, this isn’t only a domestic thriller, this read is also a brutally dark portrayal of parent-child relationships, the bright and dark sides of friendships and other dark subjects such as PTSD and abuse.
I can’t recommend this book enough. This is the kind of read that stays with you. It will render you breathless. You’ll find yourself gasping as you leaf through the final chilling pages.
***Thank you to Quercus Books and Annie Ward for providing me with a copy of BEAUTIFUL BAD in exchange for an honest review ***