Book of You

If you read and enjoyed Elizabeth Haynes Into the Darkest Corner then you will definitely want to read Claire Kendal’s The Book of You.

University administrator Clarissa, getting used to a painful split from her partner, can’t wait for her jury duty to begin. She’s thrilled when she’s assigned to a case where she will have to be off work for at least seven weeks. Every day in the protected courtroom means a day out of sight of the man whose stalking is ruining her life and haunting her dreams on the rare nights she’s able to sleep.

Rafe is the academic who turned one night’s encounter with her into his obsession. An expert on fairy tales, especially those of a dark nature, Rafe uses these to add chilling texture to the terror that has become Clarissa’s life. She’s unable to walk home from the train station or leave her home without seeing his shadow. Even a walk in a nearby park becomes the stuff of nightmares until a stranger walking his dog interrupts what she increasingly fears could have been her murder, after researching Rafe’s personal history and learning that a young woman he’d stalked previously has disappeared.

He is ever present in her life, showing up at her house with gifts she must save as evidence of his stalking and harassment to go to the police with enough incidents that they will take her seriously. A talented sewer, Clarissa uses her this sideline to keep hold of her sanity, as her physical health deteriorates and she must detail the conversations and presence of this sick man in her life in a small black book she calls the Book of You.

Now as she takes solace in the jury room, making a few friends, attracted to a fireman in particular, Clarissa can’t help but notice the case they are trying of a young woman raped and brutalized mirrors her worst fears if Rafe should ever get in close contact with her again. The defendant’s grueling days on the witness stand point out that Rafe will try to twist her story around to his benefit, and Clarissa must have enough proof before going to the police of the seriousness of his intent.

The power of the book comes from illustrating how much psychological damage an obsessive like Rafe can incur simply by his continued and annoying presence. And when his threats escalate, so does the horror that Clarissa feels and what she ultimately faces.

This well-written thriller will have readers hearts beating as hard and fast as Clarissa’s does on a regular basis. A harrowing story of the ability to enact cruelty on another human being with Kendal’s knack bringing the reader right into Clarissa’s churning anxiety.

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