While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt, 3 Stars

When I first saw While You Sleep on Netgalley, I was intrigued. I read a lot of suspense–you may have noticed. I don’t read as much horror, but I’m definitely intrigued by it as long as it isn’t gory. I think the possibility of being just a little scared is an appealing one. Although if a book is too spooky and I’m up all night, not as interested.

Still I loved the description and it sounded like a good, old-fashioned ghost story. And this one got some good praise from both reputable outlets and authors I’m a fan of.

Kirkus said, “Oodles of atmosphere largely make up for a bit of predictability in this gothic chiller.” Which is a little of a back-handed compliment, but, well, that’s Kirkus.

A.J. Finn, author of The Woman in the Window said, ““Atmospheric, spellbinding—as haunting as the best of Du Maurier, as psychologically astute as Kate Atkinson. Read it and shiver.”

Amy Engle, author of The Roanoake Girls said, “I made the mistake of starting this book late at night and was overcome almost immediately by a creeping sense of dread. The isolated setting, unreliable narrator, and menacing cast of characters all come together for a genuinely terrifying read!”

With these type of reviews, I was in. Plus I liked the cover.

From the Publisher:

It begins, they say, with a woman screaming . . . On a remote Scottish island, the McBride house stands guard over its secrets. A century ago, a young widow and her son died mysteriously there; just last year a local boy, visiting for a dare, disappeared without a trace. For Zoe Adams, newly arrived from America, the house offers a refuge from her failing marriage. But her peaceful retreat is disrupted by strange and disturbing events: nighttime intrusions; unknown voices; a constant sense of being watched. The locals want her to believe that these incidents are echoes of the McBrides’ dark past. Zoe is convinced the danger is closer at hand, and all too real—but can she uncover the truth before she is silenced?

My Review:

This was one was slow starting for me. We meet Zoe at the beginning of the book as she is leaving her husband and something in her recent past in the states and temporarily relocating to an old, remote, seaside home in Scottland. She isn’t moving permanently, but as an artist, wants to find a muse again.

When she first meets Mick, her landlord, it’s clear that there is something going on with the house that he is not telling her about. And she even wonders, could it be haunted? As she meets some other townsfolk, she has even more questions. Although the question of the house being haunted is answered on her first night alone there.

I almost put this one down about a quarter through. Spoiler alert here!! I’m not a prude, I’m all for a character who is in touch with her sexuality. But the erotic and S&M type of encounters she has with the ghosts were a little off putting for me. I felt like I was in the middle of some sexy ghost romance novel. Which I found weird.

I did figure out one of the major twists early on. The second one, I wasn’t really that taken in by. I thought it was perhaps a bit interesting, but kind of confusing. Still, Merritt writes well and the setting and lore aspects of the book were spot on. This one wasn’t completely to my taste, but I’m sure a lot of readers will appreciate it.

Specials thanks to Pegasus Books and Netgalley for an e-galley in exchange for my review. This one is out March 5, 2019.


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