Sunday, 23 June 2013

Don't Look Back - S. B. Hayes

Don't Look Back - S. B. Hayes
ISBN - 9780857386816
Publisher - Quercus
Release date - March 28th 2013
Find - Book Depository/Goodreads

'Sinead has been taunted by her manipulative brother Patrick all her life. Now he is missing. But he hasn't stopped messing with her. Compelled to search for him by her overbearing mother, Sinead discovers a trail of sinister clues which she knows Patrick has left for her. They lead her to Benedict House: a place where time stands still and nothing is as it seems. There she meets James, who is also looking for answers about his troubled past. Together, James and Sinead will discover terrifying truths that will test them to the very limit. For Benedict House is not a place for the living, and Patrick will stop at nothing to bring them down...' 
- Goodreads

I actually picked this book up by accident, I was looking for Poison Heart by the same author but for some reason decided to get this instead! I'm glad I did though as this turned out to be one of those books that sticks with you. I'm not entirely sure how to categorize this one - it has elements of horror, a tinge of something supernatural with suspense, romance, mystery and even a bit of Greek mythology all rolled together.

Sinead is looking for her brother, Patrick, at the request of her mother because it's what she always does. Patrick is mentally ill and an addict... Ever since they were children he has lead and Sinead followed, solving clues that Patrick leaves along the way. This is the last time though, Sinead has had enough and wants to move on, have more time. This girl is obsessed with time, not having enough seconds, hours or minutes in the world to live her life which causes her no end of problems with her friends and family, all stemming from an childhood incident when she suffered an asthma attack and thought she was dying. Without giving anything away it turns out to be something far more sinister...

We're introduced to Harry, Sinead's best friend who is in love with her, and James, an arrogant Australian who turns out to be a key character - these are the two love interests which normally would bother me but because of Sinead's complete disinterest in Harry there isn't the classic 'love triangle' situation but there is probably what most people would call instalove between Sinead and James once the story moves to Benedict House, James' ancestral home, where we meet a peculiar nun called Sister Catherine who thinks of herself as a guardian for Benedict House and for James who offers Sinead answers and the chance to finally solve the disappearance of Patrick if she stays and works for fourteen days. 

This is where it all got a bit confusing for me. The story of Orpheus & Eurydice is introduced thanks to two statues found in the grounds, a vicious guard dog called Cerberus said to belong to James' father and somehow all ties in to the secrets that are being hidden by everyone at the house. The rest of the book is chilling, full of tension but I found it hard to connect with Sinead until the very last few pages and the really quite shocking ending! I would have liked to have known more about Sister Catherine, about Patrick & his relationship with Sinead and also more about the real story behind James & his seemingly complicated life. Overall I liked Don't Look Back but at times it was incredibly disjointed, the characters were hard to like at first - especially Sinead, mostly because of this obsession with time, it felt like she was brushing everyone off all the time and the highly antagonistic relationship with her mother didn't help.

I did really like Don't Look Back despite my misgivings, the writing was creepy and atmospheric, the idea was good and the writing was almost beautiful at points. It was just lacking that final something to tie it all  together but the ending did a good job of pulling me back in!

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