Author: Lisa Hall
Publication Date: 20 August 2018
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher
The Party is the first book I have read by Lisa Hall and it is one that I found disturbing and uncomfortable to read, while still enjoying it. The subject matter is entirely relevant and, sadly, completely believable.
Rachel attends a neighbourhood New Year’s Eve party in her street, with her husband and neighbours. A party that she feels safe at, as she should.
The story opens New Year’s Day when Rachel wakes up feeling terrible in a strange room with no recollection of how she got there. Things rapidly go from bad to worse as she struggles to remember what has happened, with no luck, but KNOWS that something bad has happened to her. It isn’t until she leaves the room she is in that she discovers where she is and it doesn’t help her feel any better.
Rachel’s life starts to spiral in the aftermath after having to face a worried/angry husband after she didn’t come home, reporting the incident to the police and realising that it can be very difficult to investigate a situation like this. I’m sure this is one of the biggest reasons so many attacks, especially ones in a party situation like this go unreported.
The police take the report and give assurances they will do all they can to find the answers. Rachel can’t sit back and do nothing with this hanging over her head, which I can completely understand, so she starts doing some investigation of her own; talking to people and trying to piece together events to fill the gaps in her memory. It seems that everyone has something to hide and no-one is telling the whole story.
Hall writes a suspenseful tale that left me questioning everyone, Hall left not a person untarnished, making it very difficult to know who could be trusted. Rachel had her head messed with as much as her body in a nightmare that lasted for weeks.
The story is told in two time frames, best to build suspense and an effective tool when well used. The party is the pivot point for the time slips with everything falling into a time frame before the party, or after the party.
Things weren’t so amazing for Rachel and her husband in the months leading up to the New Year’s Eve party and there was quite a bit to cast suspicion in a range of directions which just left Rachel shattered, jumpy and I wanted to say paranoid, but it wasn’t really paranoia with someone doing all they could to mess with her head.
Everyone has something to hide, something they don’t want people knowing, and hiding info to protect yourself makes you look extremely suspicious. The more we discover about the time leading up to the party, the more people seem to have motive and the further we get from uncovering the truth. Through it all Rachel has moments of time come back to her but nothing conclusive, and the police are struggling to find the answers. Rachel is determined to find the answers because she refuses to allow herself to become a victim.
The Party is an intense read that I think some people may struggle with. Yes this is a fictional novel but it could definitely be a trigger. The gloss and façade of a relatively close suburban area isn’t always as happy and friendly as things seem, the things that go on behind closed doors can be disturbing on many levels and if everyone is out to protect their own secrets who can you ever be sure has your back if you need them.
The Party is a disturbing look at life and relationships that I think has been realistically explored with some massive unexpected twists that I would recommend to thriller lovers, especially those that like a more ordinary (for want of a better word) scenario. Definitely an author I will be keeping an eye out for.