In Amyna’s debut thriller, a woman living alone in England has a perpetual feeling of being watched—and soon learns that she’s not simply paranoid.
Fiona Stark has been happy the last few weeks dating Rob McKay. The mere sight of him quickens her heartbeat, and he makes her feel safe whenever they’re together. But back at her house, she can’t escape the impression that someone’s constantly observing her. Unbeknownst to her, Justin Pitchford lurks outside her window, often sleeping in the woods near her home, and sometimes sneaking inside to watch her sleep. However, things aren’t what they seem: Justin believes he’s protecting Fiona from Rob. Sure enough, it turns out that Rob has a temper, and that he apparently doesn’t like Fiona’s cop friend, Jim. The situation escalates when Rob invites Fiona on a 10-day trip to Portugal, and Justin surreptitiously trails them out of the country. Amyna’s novel relies on drama just as much as suspense: Justin’s back story will likely garner readers’ sympathy, as he witnessed the murder of his mother’s cousin, who raised him; and in an unsettling sequence, Fiona is horrified by a clump of black hair in her tub—a sharp contrast to her own auburn locks. The author doesn’t bog down the story with a surplus of characters, keeping the count at a modest seven (which also includes Fiona’s pal and Jim’s girlfriend, Carmen), and she even minimizes the settings, staying mostly at Fiona’s house or in Portugal with Rob’s friends, Lester and Abby. The initial description of Justin is demonic and a bit too transparent: He has “uneven teeth,” a surname too close to the word “pitchfork” and is, at least for Fiona, an unseen, evil presence. That said, the author doesn’t define any of the characters superficially, and ultimately reveals more about Justin; similarly, Jim and Carmen have a well-developed relationship, and aren’t simply Fiona’s companions. Amyna’s grandest triumph, however, is her nonlinear narrative: It alternates between Fiona and Justin’s perspectives and frequently backtracks, aptly detailing alternate points of view of various events.
A short novel that engagingly retains all the essential ingredients of a thriller while keeping its plot uncomplicated.

Pub Date: July 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490498133

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.


In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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