This book really starts with a bang: Paige, a young schoolteacher, is forced to make a difficult decision regarding her trouble-ridden younger brother, Ryan, unknowing of how severe the consequences of her choice would prove to be. Later, with Ryan a paraplegic confined to a wheelchair, Paige would find herself consumed by guilt and doubt over the choice she made. Unfortunately, Ryan does not hesitate to use this guilt against her, seeing fit to torture her in increasingly disturbing ways. As the psychological torment continues, Paige finds herself at a crossroads, needing to find a way to deal with the demands of her abusive brother while also trying to reclaim some semblance of her own life.
There is definitely a degree of self-pity within the book that soon wears thin. I mean, yes, it’s important to the characters and the plot development of the book that Paige is a spineless pushover who constantly feels sorry for herself and in fear of her brother, but there are only so many times you can hear this and in so many ways before it starts to wear on you. So, I did ultimately take off a star for that. But, fortunately, otherwise, the characters are rather compelling. Ryan comes across as very sinister, with another side to him, while Paige soon reveals that she herself has another side as well.
Plot-wise, the book is also well-done, as events ultimately build towards a very surprising, though admittedly somewhat illogical, ending that serves as quite a cliffhanger leading into the next book, which fortunately comes out soon. It definitely deserves a solid 4 out of 5 stars as, while it may drag slightly in the middle and lack the advanced polish of more experienced authors, it was a compelling read which kept me hooked throughout and definitely serves as a strong debut.
Please note that I received an ARC of the book from Hidden Gems in exchange for my voluntary and honest review.