Here For You, by Nora Valters
Publication: Inkubator Books; January 9, 2022
A fresh start… or a living hell?
Jess’s life is back on track again: the messy divorce, bitter inheritance feud, and terrifying home invasion are well and truly behind her.
After two years abroad, she is excited for a new beginning in a sleepy English seaside town where nobody knows her.
So when Jess is attacked in the street, she thinks it’s rotten luck – her troubles are firmly in the past, after all. But, as more creepy things start to happen, she becomes convinced she’s being targeted.
As the frightening events escalate, Jess is certain someone she thought she’d left behind has finally caught up with her – and they want revenge. But who? And just how far will they go to push her over the edge and into oblivion?
This novel begins with Jess in a new town at a new shared co-working space awkwardly introducing herself to everyone during one of their Friday night socials. As she nurses her beer, she looks around the room trying to figure out who to socialize with but is quickly saved when sweet, bubbly Ashley comes over to introduce herself. Later, the two women are drunkenly walking home, go their separate ways, and Jess is attacked. Who comes to her rescue? Ashley, of course. And the rest of the book is predictable as hell from there forward.
The main premise to this novel is the question – is Jess losing her mind or is she being gaslighted by literally everyone else in her life? Jess is a very unreliable narrator because she completely lacks any self-esteem or confidence, only shares tiny bits of her past, and later her recollections of the past don’t match those of others. So who do you believe?
Some positives of the book are the author’s character development and imagery. The way she described each character’s expression, tones, and even eye movements made the characters leap off the page. I also loved the setting and descriptions of the town down to the arcade and the yummy food Jess and Ashley would get while out and about having fun.
However, the overall novel was just a complete miss for me because it was so incredibly predictable. From about 10% in, I realized what was going on. Yes, I had to build on it as the novel progressed, but there was literally only 1 surprise throughout the novel and it was so silly and out of left field that it wasn’t an enjoyable surprise. I’m not sure what could have been better because this plot seems overdone anyway, but this lacked all of the things I love about thrillers – anticipation, surprise, questions, and twists.
I will certainly give this author another try because there were several things I enjoyed about her writing, however, Here For You is not a book that I would recommend.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.