Sunday, 15 April 2018

Books Read: The Fear by C. L. Taylor

Sometimes your first love won’t let you go…

When Lou Wandsworth ran away to France with her teacher Mike Hughes, she thought he was the love of her life. But Mike wasn’t what he seemed and he left her life in pieces.

Now 32, Lou discovers that he is involved with teenager Chloe Meadows. Determined to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself, she returns home to confront him for the damage he’s caused.

But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as Lou tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that she could once again become his prey…

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I'd like to thank Sabah at Avon Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour and my copy of The Fear.

We first meet Lou when her current boyfriend Ben tries to surprise her with a romantic break away little knowing that the starting destination of their trip will bring to the fore painful memories for Lou and will bring to an end their relationship.   After Lou decides to end things with Ben she also makes the decision to return home to Malvern to sort out her father's house, a place she's not been back to since she was 14 when everything in her life exploded, and also confront her past once and for all. 

Alternating between 1989, with 14 year old Lou who is in love with a much older man, her Karate teacher Mike, and the present day set in 2007 when a 32 year old Lou finally returns home, we get glimpses into the life of Lou.  Events from 1989 have left deeply routed scars on her and she's unable to form any sort of lasting friendship or relationship, as soon as anyone gets too close she runs away. From the outset it's clear that Lou is deeply troubled, but then is it any wonder considering what she's been through but she's not the only one whose life has been disrupted by everything that happened.

When Lou seeks Mike out the last thing Lou expects to see is for him to be up to his old tricks, it looks like another young girl is in danger to fall under his spell but Lou is determined to do whatever she can to protect Chloe from going through what she herself had been through as a 14 year old.  But to Chloe she's just a strange weird woman, can she really get her to trust and believe her?

The story is narrated from three viewpoints, those of Lou, Chloe and a third woman Wendy.  At first it's not clear who Wendy is that has a stalkerish obsession with Lou but it's not long before the clues start to fall into place.  I have to admit that it was Wendy's narration was the one that I was drawn to most, then Lou's flashbacks to her time under Mike's spell in France in 1989.  I could totally emphasise with Lou in the present day wanting to stop history repeating itself but her actions were totally irrational, understandable maybe but is justice really going to prevail that way.

The subject matter of an older man grooming a young girl makes for some disturbing, uncomfortable reading but sadly it's one that is all too prevalent in our society so I'm glad that C.L. Taylor did not shy away from exploring this.  There is always someone out there willing to take advantage of vulnerable young girls or boys by reeling them in by showing them affection and then using their power to taking control or advantage of them.  By the time most realise what is going on it's too late.

However the book wasn't without its faults as there were some major editing/research issues with mentions of things that were not available at the time of the timelines in the story.  Instagram app being used in 2007 when it was't launched until 2010, PS4 games console being played in 2007 when it wasn't out until 2013 and Euro currency being used in 1989 when it wasn't introduced in France until 2002 to name just three examples and there were quite a few others I could have mentioned as well.  If the present day storyline had been set in the current day then none of these would have been an issue, it almost feels like the timeline had been moved back 10 years but then the relevant references not changed accordingly.  Whether that was the case or not I don't know.

The Fear is a chilling tale of revenge, one that will get under your skin as the complexities of the different relationships merge to a tense climax.  At times I did feel that some of the drama being created was a bit too far fetched, especially regarding the Lou/Mike/Wendy situation towards the latter stages of the book, and a little unrealistic but then again who knows what we would do if we were in that position.  That being said, I did love that the author did add in that one extra element of surprise in the final chapter!

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