While You Sleep
Thriller, Horror | 393 pages | 03.05.2019 | Pegasus Books
This story was masterfully written! From the first sentence on, I felt leery, uncomfortable, and probably a little paranoid. Stephanie Merritt kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. This disturbing novel just wanders along in a slow burn constantly eluding to something could be happening at any time. I loved it!
The topic itself is not novel – we have an unreliable protagonist (is Zoe delusional?), we have a sort of 100-year-old witch hunt story (was Aisle McBride mad or misunderstood?), and we have a very isolated, most likely haunted house on a remote island in Scotland filled with superstitious and slightly hostile townsfolk.
What drew me in was the mysteriousness of Zoe’s back story (why is she taking refuge in this place that isn’t very welcoming to outsiders?), her slowly developing friendships with the elusive Charles and the overeager Edward (with their own secrets!), as well as her reoccurring eerie and foreboding dreams. The dreams specifically show Merritt’s genius in creating an atmosphere with words. I loved how they slowly escalated blurring the line between fiction and reality. We never really know what are the signs of a madwoman and what are paranormal or maybe even perfectly explainable occurrences. The spooky events taking place at McBride house could be the evil doings of spirits, the delusions of a single woman, and the deeds of a sick perpetrator, or something completely different.
This story is complex. No one answer can explain it all. Or can it?
As a side note, I don’t think the current synopsis on Goodreads does the book justice. It gives too much away and not enough. It slightly, but enough to be confusing, misrepresents what this book is actually about. The less you know the better it will be.
Addendum: I had originally given this book 4.5 stars but I keep thinking about it even days after and keep wishing I could read it again for the first time …. So, I definitely feel it actually deserves 5 stars.
I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.