Published by Head of Zeus
Source: Publisher review copy
Can you hide your deepest fear?
To the outside world, Kathy is the very picture of a happy and fulfilled modern woman. She has a beautiful baby boy, a clever, handsome husband and a glamorous, high-powered job.
But not everybody is fooled. Her employee, Heja, knows the truth: the cracks in Kathy’s marriage, her self-doubt, her fear of failure at work. Heja is perfectly placed to destroy Kathy’s life. And if she succeeds, she can claim the one thing she wants most…
This one was quite a slow burner for me. Told from the perspective of our antagonist, Heja, and with alternate chapters given to the view of the protagonist, Kathy – you are drawn into Heja’s cold world of hatred towards Kathy.
Kathy tends to beat herself up for all her misgivings – for failing to juggle being a new wife and mother, whilst also embarking on a new promotion as editor of a highly rated magazine – all the while completely clueless to the fact that she is in fact being sabotaged by Heja.
And for a while, this is pretty much all the book is made up of. Heja’s sections are basically dedicated to slating Kathy, about her appearance, her ability to do her job, her lifestyle, etc. And Kathy’s sections focus on her self-deprecation and whining about her husband’s coldness towards her. It is all quite dark and makes for some uncomfortable reading.
It is very much a tale of ‘the woman scorned’, and throughout you feel something quite sinister is on its way. However I didn’t really feel much empathy for Kathy – in order for her to be portrayed as the poor, pathetic victim, I think she needed to lay off meeting up with her ex-boyfriend and also having a brief ‘holiday romance’ with a work colleague.
It was difficult to figure out the author’s intentions for Heja. She was portrayed as the ‘Ice Queen’ type and I’m not sure how much of this was supposed to be down to her personality and how much owed to cultural differences – she was a national treasure back in Finland, so are all Finns cold and unfeeling? (If Kathy’s Finnish husband Marcus is anything to go by then yes!)
Heja’s personal plight was then developed – losing the love of her life, losing other people very dear to her, her loveless relationship with her mother – and I’m not sure if this was in an attempt to justify, or at the very least explain, her actions, but it drew me no closer to her either.
As for Marcus, well he was a complete arse to be honest. And I’m still left puzzled as to the reasons behind some of his actions. This story seemed to be trying to focus on love – lack of it, losing it, desperately attempting to hold on to it – and yet I couldn’t see that any of these people even understood the concept.
I’m in a bit of a quandary about the climactic events of the book as well. I cant decide if they were done with class or just lack of emotion. Rather than the huge melodrama you would expect, it was all very reserved…in fact the most dramatic part was actually the way the author described the weather at the time! And I still cannot fathom why Marcus took the actions he did, or why Kathy’s feelings concluded the way they did.
All in all, It wasn’t an awful book, it was kind of chilling, dark, and gritty and I can see why some people would really enjoy it. But without any meaningful connection to any of the characters, it fell short for me.
My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.