Dear Child by Romy Hausmann had all the makings for a great psych thriller, but this one fell flat for me. I am not sure if my expectations were too high going in, or if I just have read so many books in this genre that my standards are unreasonable high (or a combo of both.) When I first saw this cover gracing #bookstagram and read the synopsis, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. Unfortunately, this one wasn't one of my favorites this year.
Thirteen years ago, Lena X disappears out of thin air one evening. Her parents have been searching for her ever since, but have resounded to accepting the most likely scenario. Until, a woman escapes a remote cabin where she has been held hostage and claims her name is Lena. Their Lena. When her father meets her at the hospital, he swear she isn't his daughter, but who is she? Dear Child is being compared to a combination of Room meets Gone Girl with a fast paced and psychologically twisting plot.
Alright, here's the nitty gritty. I am tired of every thriller published in the last five years being compared to Gone Girl. We get it. Gone Girl was great, but it is not the end all be all for thrillers. (*steps off soap box*)
Dear Child gave me straight up Room by Emma Donoghue vibes right from the get go. A woman is held hostage in a remote cabin and her captor essentially makes her play "family" with him. When she arrives, there is already a little girl and boy who live there. She is told her name is Lena and that she is the mother of the children. Out of instinct to survive, she goes along with it, until a rare chance arises for her to potentially escape.
I enjoyed the twists and turns with this book, but also found the plot predictable at some points and the "twists" a bit of a let down. The basic premise of the book is: girl goes missing, girl is found, girl can't be trusted, captor is dead, and there are a heck of a lot of unanswered questions. The female unreliable narrator/victim who seems suspicious has been overdone, i.e. Gone Girl. (Okay, I will compare this one a smidgen to Gone Girl...) Can't we have a thriller where we don't victim shame and give them the help they need rather than question their sanity?! I will say, I did not predict who the captor was, but when I found out who it was, I was not impressed....
Overall, this one didn't do it for me. Below, I have listed some of my favorite psychological thrillers that I recommend frequently.
Content Warning: kidnapping of a child, rape, violence