Desert Isle Keeper
Never Let You Go
I can always count on Chevy Stevens to deliver a taut, gripping psychological thriller. Her books delight and terrify me in equal measure, so I was keen to read her latest, Never Let You Go.
Eleven years ago, single mother Lindsay Nash took her young daughter and fled her abusive husband, who ended up behind bars. Now though, Andrew is being released, and Lindsay’s life will never be the same.
Almost immediately after he is released, she suspects someone is watching her. Against her better judgement, she confronts Andrew by phone, but he swears he’s a new man. He claims to still be in love with Lindsay, but says he accepts her decision not to have anything to do with him. Still, she isn’t convinced. As days turn into weeks, other very creepy things begin to happen to Lindsay and her now teenaged daughter Sophie. Their home is broken into, and their dog purposely poisoned. Sophie is followed home from school on more than one occasion, and Lindsay’s new boyfriend is accosted outside his house and threatened. But if Andrew isn’t behind all of this, who is?
The novel jumps around quite a bit, but it’s very easy to keep track of what’s going on. Several chapters deal with Lindsay’s years as Andrew’s wife, chronicling the abuse that made it necessary for her to leave him. We also spend a great deal of time in the present, as Lindsay struggles to get to the bottom of the chaos her life has become. Most of the story is told from Lindsay’s point of view, but I was pleased to read Sophie’s as well, and I ended up empathising with her so much.
For most of her life, it’s just been her and her mother. She remembers her father, but doesn’t have many memories of the abuse her mom endured at his hands. Lindsay has always been very open with Sophie about the circumstances that caused them to leave Andrew and which subsequently sent him to jail, but Sophie nonetheless misse him desperately. She wants to believe he’s changed, and so she writes to him and eventually meets him behind Lindsay’s back. This was an incredibly foolhardy course of action, but I could understand why she did it.
Lindsay is also an extremely relatable character. She’s lived her life in fear, but doesn’t want Sophie to have to live the same way. She hates Andrew for the way he treated her all those years ago, and so it’s completely natural, given the mind games he used to love to play with her, for her to blame him for the spate of scary things going on in her life. I admired her devotion to her daughter, as well as the inner strength that kept her going even when things got extremely tough and dangerous.
This was a very difficult book to read, due to the very graphic scenes of abuse readers will encounter. Andrew hurts Lindsay physically quite a few times, but the psychological abuse he put her through may be even more disturbing. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach as I read, hoping Andrew wouldn’t get away with all the crap he put his wife and daughter through. Ms. Stevens’ writing is incredibly evocative, and that’s the mark of a great writer in this reviewer’s opinion.
The twist at the end is masterful. I never saw it coming, and I tried hard to figure out what was really going on. I’d definitely recommend Never Let You Go to anyone who enjoys well-written, creepy thrillers who isn’t put off by very descriptive scenes of abuse.