Today I'm helping to close the tour for If She Wakes by Erik Therme. Thanks to Zoe at Zooloo's Book Tours for inviting me and to the publisher for my review copy.
Who do you trust when everyone is lying?
My name is Tess Parker.
Two days ago, I was in a car accident with my sister-in-law, Torrie. Before she slipped into a coma, she asked my husband and me to care for her four-month-old son, Levi.
Yesterday, a woman claiming to be Torrie’s estranged sister knocked on our door. But Torrie has no siblings . . . or so she said. She and my brother were only together a short time before he left, and Torrie has clearly been keeping secrets.
Today, another of Torrie’s 'sisters' has come to town. Both say the other is lying about who they are.
Neither of them is telling the truth.
Both of them want Levi.
If She Wakes is published by Thacker Books and came out last week on 20th February 2022.
This is, I think, the fifth book of Erik's I've read and the follow to last year's If She Dies.
Torrie is the wife of Tess's late twin brother Colin. Tess and her husband Josh hadn't really got to know her very well before Colin's death but are trying to support her as best they can, particularly as she has a baby son. Following a car accident which leaves Torrie in a coma, Tess and Josh take Levi into their care, because Torrie has no other family. At least, that's what they thought...
After a pretty sad and downbeat prologue, but one that sets the scene perfectly and covers some of the back story from If She Dies, there is a complete change of tone for the first chapter, which opens with
'The first thing I see when I open my eyes is blood; running down my left forearm, glazing the backside of my hand and dripping from my fingers.'
The car crash is the beginning of a crazy chain of events for Tess. Before Torrie loses consciousness she says some strange things. Tess doesn't really know her well and is confused and alarmed by what she hears. Once home, she struggles to find with baby Levi, the reasons for which are explored in the book, whereas Josh seems to love every moment with him. Having Levi at home causes a flood of emotions for Tess, which the author gently explores. She keeps it all together well until a woman claiming to be Torrie's sister, after Torrie had said she had no family, turns up. Then trust issues, fear and paranoia start to bubble to the surface, threatening her sanity and her marriage.
The plot twists and turns and is full of tension. It's maybe a bit far fetched but this is fiction, after all. There's a sub plot running throughout, relating back to Tess and Josh's previous trauma and events in the first book, which I was keen to follow. It runs alongside the main storyline until they come together in the most awful way, and everything makes sense. But I didn't see it coming.
What I like about Erik's books is that they're very character driven. The whole cast seems very real, Tess particularly. It's hard not to feel for her, she's fair been through the mill. I liked Josh a lot less in this book than in If She Dies though - I hope that was the intention! Other characters, particularly Jessie and Mia, were difficult to warm to because we don't know if they're being honest, or manipulative, or what. So, whilst it was difficult to feel strongly either way, I like the confusion that Therme puts into the reader's mind (well, mine anyway).
If She Wakes is a fast moving, tense and sometimes uneasy thriller. I love that it's very character focused and feelings and emotions are explored. It's a story of love, loss, grief and healing and a great follow up to If She Dies. And the ending means there could possibly be a third in the series. Fingers crossed...
Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harbored runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering on his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his oldest. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa—one of only twenty-eight places in the world that UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature. Join Erik’s mailing list to be notified of new releases and author giveaways: http://eepurl.com/cD1F8L
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