Quercus | January 2017 | 416 pgs
Source: Purchased

Nowadays I'm a bit skeptical with titles that have "The Girl" on them, especially psychological thrillers. It isn't a bad thing, really, just that I feel they are overused and that very often they have unreliable characters and this book is no exceptional, although I felt the cold setting of the house at One Folgate Street more frightening. 

Told from the past and present between Emma and Jane, this story revolves around these two women and their stay at the beautiful house at One Folgate Street. Built by a minimalist architect by the name of Edward Monkford, the projects he designs and develops always bear his signature of high quality and are built with intelligent, high technology systems. His works has won him numerous awards but to property agents and clients he could comes off a bit... austere. 

Both Emma and Jane are looking at houses for rental; the former told from the past and the latter at present time. They decided the house on One Folgate Street after been through many house sightings. For starters, the house is bare with minimal furniture and there are rules and regulations to follow (i.e. no books, no throw pillows, no photos or personal effects of any kind) and the oddest of all, their applications have to be approved by Edward and those forms come with a set of questions ranging from anything house related to their personal opinions on various matters and if these "requirements" don't set off any alarms I don't know what would. So that begins the story of Emma and Jane, and the eccentric Edward. Emma and Jane came off as unreliable due to their traumatic past and both of them find Edward charming but cold. As the story progresses, their personality start to change too as they try to adapt to their new environment and all that requirements. 

I got the feeling that The Girl Before wouldn't be a fit for all readers (it features some sexually suggestive scenarios and there are also issues on control and submission). At times I wondered if the characters are experiencing Stockholm Syndrome under some circumstances and it was all very perplexing, considering the decisions they made. Then again, who did I really believe considering many of the characters here are unreliable? The twist wasn't what I expected (I confessed I was too invested in the dynamics between the two women and what they have gone through instead), but I figured if one pay enough attention it wouldn't come off as a great surprise. Overall it was a riveting, suspenseful psychological thriller but disturbing at some point. 

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6 Responses
  1. Lark Says:

    I thought this was a pretty good read, but I found the ending a little unsatisfying. I don't feel like the author did enough to set the reader up for one of the twists. This isn't a book I would buy or read again.

  2. Melody Says:

    Lark - It was a good read but some parts got to me. Yes, I found the ending a little unsatisfying, too. I was expecting something else other than that ending. Oh well.

  3. jenclair Says:

    I found it suspenseful, but could not get over the way Emma and Jane surrendered to "the rules of the house." The submission/control issue that you mention is disturbing, isn't it? I just could not imagine anyone accepting such an invasive questionnaire and the no books or personal effects requirement as part of a rental/lease agreement. It was tense, and I definitely wanted to know what happened, but ultimately, I could not understand the personalities (regardless of traumatic pasts) and could not become invested in the characters.

    J.P. Delaney is a pseudonym for Tony Strong, but I have not read any of the novels he has written under his own name.

  4. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - The control stuff got to me the most. Some parts of it reminds me of that guy in Fifty Shades, not that I'd read the entire series. I gave up after reading the first book.

    I'll have to check out Tony Strong's books. I'm curious. ;)

  5. Iliana Says:

    Those house rules are crazy! Who want's to stay there?! Haha... I am curious about this one. I wish marketing teams would stop referencing the Girl books. I get why they do it but for us who read a lot, it does get tiring to see the same old marketing campaigns. I love thrillers but want more variety and good stories.

  6. Melody Says:

    Iliana - I was shaking my head the whole time while reading this book, lol. I'll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts if you do read it. :)

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