With a combination of ghost story, romance and murder mystery The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen was not at all what I was expecting and I think may surprise a lot of her fans. It’s certainly different and I have to admit I found it addictive reading but I’m not convinced the romance side of the story really comes off and there are a few scenes I found disturbing. If you’re looking for a Rizzoli and Isles type story you may be disappointed but if willing to give something very different a try you may enjoy this.
We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .
When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.
But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.
The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?
As a long time fan of Tess Gerritsen, I have to admit I was a little surprised by this story. It’s not that I’m not happy she’s doing something different but this felt like one of those romantic suspense (with the emphasis on romance) books she wrote way back at the start of her career. I didn’t particularly mind this as I’ve loved pretty much everything she’s written but I suspect fans of her more recent thrillers may be a little disappointed.
It does have the quality of writing regular readers have come to expect from Gerritsen and I can’t deny it made for addictive reading, I read the whole thing in a day, but I’m not sure the combination of ghost story, murder mystery and romance really comes together. It feels like the romance takes centre stage and considering this is a Fifty Shades style relationship it makes for slightly disturbing reading.
I did find Ava to be a very intriguing character and for the most part likeable. She’s in Maine for the summer ostensibly to finish the cookbook she’s writing but in reality she’s running away from something terrible she’s done. She’s plagued by guilty feelings and has developed a bit of a drinking problem which makes you question just how reliable she is when she starts to question the disappearance of the previous resident in the house she’s renting and even more so when a ghostly apparition appears to her. I will admit I found it hard to accept how obsessive she became about the captain but I did like how different she was as a character and how she develops over the course of the story.
Where I struggled was the romance, I’m afraid it just stretched the bounds of credibility for me and there were elements that were problematic. I understand why the author went down that route but it feels abusive and unhealthy a lot of the time, and I’m saying this as someone who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey. There were a couple of scenes that I found disturbing to read and I suspect I won’t be the only one.
There are however other things to enjoy about this story. I loved the setting of a small town in Maine, the wonderful cast of secondary characters and all of the references to food. It made it very easy to imagine yourself there. I also liked the murder mystery even though I guessed pretty early on who the killer was. I just wish there had been a little more focus on this side of the story and a little less on the “romance”.
Overall therefore, my feelings are decidedly mixed. I did enjoy it for the most part, the speed I read it certainly supports that, I’m just struggling to get past the issues I had with the romance. Don’t let my feelings put you off though, if you’re curious it’s worth a read.
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review