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SLEEP by C L Taylor

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Avon Books UK

Published: 4th April 2019

Reviewed: 25th June 2019


All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they're on the island. There's a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they've set their sights on Anna. Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

My Review

Well, this wasn’t the read I was expecting at all. It was even better!

After reading the blurb, I thought the story’s title related to Anna, the protagonist, being too scared to go to sleep. To an extent it is, but the plot is much more complex than that and it wasn’t until the story reached its climax that the title of Sleep really hit me as being quite clever. I won’t say why as this would be a spoiler; but when you read it, it will make sense!

The author’s skilful use of language and sentence structure makes this an enjoyable read that sucks you right into the narrative, which combined with its fast paced plot made it difficult to find a natural break where I could put the book down without itching to pick it back up again for another sneaky read. There are a lot of flawed and damaged characters who feature prominently in the story, and with the four women guests having names that weren’t tied down to a particular age group, at times it was difficult to keep track of who was who. However, this kind of added to the story’s overall sense of confusion and unease. Anna knows one of the guests is out to get her but she doesn’t know which one.

Anna narrates through first-person, and the other characters are brought to life through limited third-person perspectives. This is the case not only for guests at the Bay View Hotel but also for characters from Anna’s past. This multiple narrative works particularly well for this ‘whodunnit’ type thriller. The first-person narration puts the reader in Anna’s shoes, feeling her guilt, whilst the third-person narration allows access to information that Anna isn’t privy to. To a degree, the guilt Anna feels isn’t justified, and the way she has been treated by both her colleagues and her boyfriend, adds to the sense of injustice. Following the climax, the story temporarily switches to first-person narration from the antagonist’s point of view. In complete contrast to Anna’s overwhelming yet unjustifiable guilt, the antagonist (sorry not going to name them here!) feels their psychotic perspective is rational. The author’s decision to portray this directly through the antagonist’s twisted sense of right and wrong really is quite chilling to the core.

The sense of claustrophobia and panic is intensified by the novel’s setting. Whilst the island of Rum is surrounded by wide open spaces, this is juxtaposed with it being cut off from the mainland. Modern technology is unreliable at the best of times on the island, but with the storm raging, communication with the outside world is impossible. With no immediate neighbours and no way of calling for help, this makes this ordinarily fresh rural setting a place of intense fear that is impossible to escape.

Whilst C L Taylor is in a league of her own, Sleep is an addictive and twisty read recommended for anybody who likes traditional Agatha Christy type thrillers as well as more contemporary thrillers such as An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an Advance Review Copy of this book

in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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