Stevens’s blistering debut follows a kidnap victim from her abduction to her escape—and the even more horrifying nightmare that follows.
One moment, Vancouver Island realtor Annie O’Sullivan is taking one last client, a quiet, well-spoken man with a nice smile, through the property where she’s holding an open house; the next moment, she’s being marched out to a van at gunpoint, unaware that it’s the last time for months that she’ll see the sky or breathe the open air. The man who’s taken her calls himself David; she calls him The Freak. And her ordeal over the next year, described in unsparing detail in a series of lacerating sessions with her psychiatrist, indicates that her name is a lot more accurate than his. Annie is fondled, beaten, raped and starved by a man whose troubled background has evidently convinced him that she wants him to treat her with exactly this combination of brutality and solicitude. Worse still, she internalizes his obsessive rules (meals and bathroom breaks on a strict schedule, ritual baths and sex, complete control of every word she speaks and her tone of voice) so completely that she remains terrified of breaking them. Months after her miraculous return to the world she wondered if she’d ever see again, she’s still cowering every night in her closet, unable to hold her own in anything like a normal conversation with her flirtatious, irresponsible mother, her best friend Christina, her restaurateur boyfriend Luke, or any of the dozens of interviewers who stalk her, “just sadists with a bigger paycheck” than The Freak. Worst of all is the dawning realization, fostered by sympathetic, no-nonsense Staff Sgt. Gary Kincade, that The Freak had at least one accomplice who helped him select his victim—perhaps an accomplice who had a particular reason to wish Annie ill.
A grueling, gripping demonstration of melodrama’s darker side. As Annie tells the cops who insist that everything’s OK because she’s safe: “I was never going to be okay, or safe.”