Sunday 5 May 2013

Sunday Spotlight: Don't Look Back by SB Hayes

My new Sunday Spotlight feature (which actually bears a striking similarity to my old Saturday Spotlight feature) will showcase some of my favourite recent books reviewed for the superb Bookbag site.

Ever since they were children, Sinead has been taunted by her older brother Patrick. Always their mother's favourite, he constantly plays games with her, trying to force her to follow him. When he goes missing, it seems to be his most sinister game yet - as he leaves a trail of clues which lead to Benedict House, a strange place where time seems to stand still.
I started reading SB Hayes' latest book at about half past ten one Sunday evening, and put it down at about twenty five to eleven. That's not because of any lack of quality, though - rather, it was just that the eerie atmosphere of the opening pages reminded me that after finishing her debut novel, Poison Heart at around midnight on a Sunday, I was too scared to sleep for at least 3 hours! On picking it up again on Monday morning, I found I'd definitely made the right decision - if Poison Heart was fairly frightening, this is absolutely chilling, scaring me more than any teen novel I've read before - and more than anything since my days of reading horror by John Saul and James Herbert.
In addition to the extremely atmospheric writing, Hayes really captures the characters well in this one, particularly the bizarre - but still believable - family dynamic between time-obsessed Sinead, manipulative Patrick and their mother. I'll even forgive her for including two boys competing for Sinead's attention, as despite my feelings on love triangles, the pair are both interesting characters and the romance definitely doesn't overshadow the main plot of the novel. I found the plotting to be well done, and the ending left me stunned.
Strongly recommended - but let me stress, it's definitely not one to read late at night!

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