I have to say this, listening to Anna Downes’s The Safe Place was a fantastic experience. Having the author herself giving sounds to her characters is a novelty and narrating the story in such a way that it was easy to slide into this ‘end of the earth kind of place’ that gets under your skin was simply awesome.
The story is familiar, a down-on-luck girl is lured into the best job in the world, to be a companion to the boss’s wife and child in France. But is there a catch? Emily as expected sees everything thru her rose-tinted glasses initially, explaining away all oddities and weirdness that she encounters, the extreme health issues faced by Aurelia attributed to a childhood sickness, and the over-the-top parental care exhibited by Nina to her protectiveness, believing Querencia to be a dream come thru for her.
I loved how Anna Downes creates a sense of foreboding in the story as the reader sees Scott self-harming and then there is a third voice in the story whose mental health is so precarious that the chapters provide a terrorized feeling of a calamity waiting to happen. But it takes time for Emily to understand that there’s something dark underneath all that glitter and show inside Querencia.
The story though predictable in many ways is compelling and definitely a page-turner. I did lose interest in the middle part of the book as the author describes the idyllic life in Querencia but picks up pace towards the end. The mystery that unfolds did surprise me but I did wish that there was more ‘thriller’ aspect to the unraveling, something more impactful rather than how it has been shown. Well, probably listening to a mystery thriller over the course of 10 days is not really acceptable, and the reason why it didn’t leave me stunned though I loved the author’s style of story-telling and am looking forward to her next release The Shadow House.
“A captivating narration by author Anna Downes adds that extra spark to her neo-gothic novel…Downes knows her characters and delivers them with professional expertise, original plotting, and a masterful performance.” (AudioFile Magazine)
Superbly tense and oozing with atmosphere, Anna Downes’s debut, The Safe Place, is the perfect summer suspense, with the modern gothic feel of Ruth Ware and the morally complex family dynamics of Lisa Jewell.
Welcome to paradise…will you ever be able to leave?
Emily is a mess.
Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.
Emily is desperate.
Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix. Until he meets Emily.
Emily is perfect.
Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn’t play along, the consequences could be deadly.
A Macmillan Audio from Minotaur Books
“Richly evocative with a dark, atmospheric heart, The Safe Place is seductive, irresistible and suspenseful. I was completely gripped from the first page to the pulse-pounding end…. It’s the perfect summer suspense.” (Christina McDonald, USA Today best-selling author)
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