ARC Book Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

the-girl-beforeTitle: The Girl Before
Author: JP Delaney
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Release Date:
26th January 2017
Publisher: Quercus Books
ISBN 13: 9781786480293
Pages: 416
Started: 20th January 2017
Completed: 20th January 2017
Rating: 4.5/5
Summary: Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before. As twist after twist catches the reader off guard, Emma’s past and Jane’s present become inexorably entwined in this tense, page-turning portrayal of psychological obsession.

I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. Thank you to the author, JP Delaney, and the publisher, Quercus Books, for this opportunity.

The Girl Before is the first book published by JP Delaney which is the pseudonym of a writer who has previously published best-selling fiction under another name. The name sounds masculine, as most pseudonyms do, but the acknowledgements at the end indicate that the author is a woman.

The book is often compared to The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl which indicates that it’s going to be a huge hit with readers.

The cover is minimalist, a representation of the house that the book revolves around, but the blood red text draws attention to the book. I think that the cover reflects the book and I really like it.

Wow, just wow. I loved this book. It’s genuinely fantastic from the plot to the writing.This book has so many twists in it that I was just overwhelmed, but in a good way.

The plot revolves around two women, Emma and Jane, who live in the same house at different times. The house is seemingly perfect but it comes with a set of unrealistic rules and a lengthy application process. Everything from the lights to the shower is controlled via an app which even censors internet search results and the tenants aren’t allowed to have their own furniture or any other possessions because the house must be kept in perfect condition. The architect and landlord, Edward, is a control freak in all aspects of his life but he’s also fascinating to his tenants, in a sort of unattainable way.

The chapters of The Girl Before are split into ‘Before’ and ‘Now’. The ‘Before’ chapters are from Emma’s point of view but the ‘Now’ chapters are from Jane’s. All chapters are written in the first person and it works so well because both narrators are highly unreliable and it keeps the suspense high throughout the novel. The writing is amazing. I was gripped from the first word to the last word. It’s so well written that I didn’t see any of the twists coming, even though I had my own predictions and thoughts, and the ending is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s such a fantastic ending.

The book deals with very sensitive issues, like most psychological thrillers, do but they’re dealt with very well in my opinion. None of these events happen purely for shock value because they all add to the plot or the character-development in some way. The author shows great skill by writing about sensitive topics in such a mature way.

The characters are fascinating because just as you feel like you have them figured out something will happen in the narrative that makes you rethink your whole outlook on the characters.

Emma seems like a sweet woman who has been traumatised and has turned into a cold, insecure woman but she’s not what she seems. Emma was the biggest surprise for me in terms of the character development because she’s so complicated. She’s an amazing character. Jane has also suffered a traumatic event but she’s much stronger than Emma. She always seems to be in control, even when faced with control-freak Edward, and I loved that about her. She’s a fantastic woman and I thoroughly enjoyed reading her chapters. Both of these characters are well-written and realistic but neither of them are who they first appear to be.

Edward, as mentioned before, is in control of every aspect of his life. He’s also very handsome and extremely creepy. Both women are fascinated by him in some way and he definitely takes advantage of this. He’s an interesting character but while he is a major part of the plot I was glad that he didn’t turn out to be a Christian Grey type of character who can’t admit to his flaws which is what I expected in the beginning.

All of the supporting characters have interesting stories and characteristics too. They’re not just left in the background to serve as bland counterpoints to the main characters. This makes the story seem fuller and more interesting because you’re able to become invested in more than just Emma and Jane.

Okay, there are some things that I didn’t like about the book. Well, more like just one thing but it actually really freaked me out. This is the reason that this book is a 4.5 out of 5 rather than a full 5 stars.

There’s a small instance of ageplay (aka, daddy kink) in the book and it makes me want to throw up. It really freaks me out when I read it. It also came out of nowhere in the book so it shocked me a little bit. I managed to get past it because it was only brief but I don’t know what it added to the novel at all. It’s just unnecessary to me and I think that the idea could have been shown in a different way but some people will disagree with me.

The Girl Before is a spectacular book which gripped me from beginning to end. I read it in one sitting because I was hooked from the very first page. JP Delaney has created one of the best psychological thrillers that I have ever read.

I would happily buy this book for myself and I’d buy it as a gift for friends and family who enjoy thriller novels. It’s a truly fantastic book and I can’t recommend it enough.


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