Never Go There by Rebecca Tinnelly is a tense, gripping psychological thriller which aims to shock and bewilder and does not disappoint. I enjoyed this book because it is more of a discovery than a mystery; finding out what happened rather than who did it and what the consequences might be. I loved reading the three main narrative voices; all struggling women coming to terms with their choices in life.
Nuala Greene’s husband, James, is dead. She has been left with nothing and nobody for six months and goes in search of his estranged family, whom he warned her never to go and see. In James’ home village, Nuala comes face to face with his past, which includes dark and twisted secrets. As she plucks at every thread, the neat little village comes apart at the seams. Narrated by Nuala, Maggie and Emma, we learn how these three lives have become inextricably linked and how James has made it impossible for them to go on for various reasons.
I thought that this novel was well-plotted and thought through. The characters are a bit one-dimensional, with the exception of Emma, and conform to their roles in the novel to steer it where it needs to go. The content of this book is dark, which I loved; it considers many disturbing themes, including rape, paedophilia, manipulation and murder. I liked the fact that James was not painted as a hero after his death and his secrets revealed his true nature. I think that it would be interesting to read the novel of the story that came before Nuala from the perspective of James and Emma, especially considering her reactions toward Nuala being in the town.
I thought that the best characters were Lois and Emma, if I’m being honest. Lois is a little bitter to begin with and may not have been the best mother to James, but she had such terrible experiences surrounding him coming into the world that I doubt anyone could have been. Without spoiling the book, Lois is a strong character because she overcame her worst nightmare, raised a son and protected him at all costs. Even after she has been severely screwed over by most people in her life, Lois continues on and looks after herself. Emma, on the other hand appears to be fragile and a bit unhinged to begin with. Obsessing over James, sending him letters despite not having seen him in seven years does not paint her in the best light. However, she certainly develops some courage by the end of the novel and makes a truly startling appearance.
The story was well written and I couldn’t put this book down, which I always rate. I enjoyed each twist and turn, set in this dark dingy village which appears to be getting what it deserves at the end of the day. I enjoyed the bleak, depressing nature of the story and the way that it echoed where James grew up and what Nuala never knew about her husband. In this dreary way, Never Go There really analysed what villages can be like and the psychological tormenting effects they can have on their inhabitants.
Overall, I felt that this book deserved a solid 4*. I would recommend it for regular readers of thriller and psychologically twisting narratives. I would suggest that you read it when you’re after something darker with bleak, depressing imagery to reflect the plot. Thank you Hodder & Stoughton for my proof copy of Never Go There by Rebecca Tinnelly in exchange for an honest review.