Title: Don’t Stand So Close
Author: Luana Lewis
Publication date: 13 February 2014
Publisher: Bantam Press (Transworld)
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Psychological thriller / Suspense
Age group: Adult
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon UK | The Book Depository
In a nutshell
What would you do if a young girl knocked on your door and asked for your help? If it was snowing and she was freezing cold, but you were afraid and alone? What would you do if you let her in, but couldn’t make her leave?
What if she told you terrible lies about someone you love, but the truth was even worse?
Stella has been cocooned in her home for three years. Severely agoraphobic, she knows she is safe in the stark, isolated house she shares with her husband, Max. The traumatic memories of her final case as a psychologist are that much easier to keep at a distance, too.
But the night that Blue arrives on her doorstep with her frightened eyes and sad stories, Stella’s carefully controlled world begins to unravel around her…
I have a soft spot for psychological thrillers so I fell in love with Luana Lewis’s story the minute I read the synopsis. I had very high hopes for Don’t Stand So Close and luckily, it didn’t let me down. I loved it from start to finish and I’m not exaggerating when I say I read the first hundred pages in one sitting.
One of the reasons why it’s so difficult to put it down is that you have no idea who’s lying, who’s manipulating who and who the (real) victims are. Blue turns up at Stella’s house with an innocent enough story but once she’s inside, it turns out things are more complicated than they seem. Both of them are acting strange. Stella has been cocooned inside her home with symptoms of agoraphobia and anxiety, and been on heavy medication for years so she’s clearly not the most reliable character you’ll ever find. Blue says she knows Stella’s husband but she keeps changing her story all the time. You have no idea what’s going on and you want to find out who’s telling the truth so desperately that by the time you manage to put the book down for a few minutes, it’s midnight and you realize you forgot to have dinner. And lunch. It’s very addictive!
Another thing I particularly enjoyed about how the story is built up is the fact that it runs on three different levels. It all starts at Hilltop, Stella and Max’s Buckinghamshire home, in the present. The following chapter describes a scene between patient and therapist, and the next one takes place two years earlier when Stella was an ambitious and ever so effective employee at Max’s psychiatric clinic. I loved how Stella’s past (the scenes at the clinic), Blue’s past (the ones between patient and therapist) and their present (the scenes at Hilltop) intertwined – it’s such a clever way of telling the story and it makes it even more captivating, if that’s possible. We get a glimpse into both women’s past and their present together. It gives us an insight into what Stella was like before her life fell apart and, chapter by chapter, Lewis unveils the truth about Stella’s phobias and why her life took such a dramatic turn all these years ago.
Suspenseful, dark, chilling – Don’t Stand So Close is a twisted, brilliantly written story which is guaranteed to render you speechless. I absolutely loved it and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!
*Many thanks to Transworld for sending me a copy for review*