A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: Meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.
One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace 14 years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle which doesn’t quite seem to fit.
Dear Child is an addictive, tense and intriguing thriller which tells the story from three perspectives: “Lena”, the daughter Hannah, and Lena’s father Matthias. It switches between them to give us an extra insight into the terrifying world of Lena’s as she’s held captive by this man. I love stories that switch between narrators and Dear Child is no exception. It’s a brilliant example of using this technique to make the reader slowly realise that no one is completely honest…
Obviously there are a lot of deep and very dark themes in this novel. It starts off in a rather haphazard way, as we wonder what on earth is going on. This adds to the novel’s sense of confusion and makes it even more of a tense read – then as the story continues, it becomes clear that everyone is not who they seem to be at first.
The victims of this tragic case all have very different reactions to the trauma, and demonstrates that there isn’t one uniform way to try to ‘get over’ something like this. I loved that there was an added sense of mystery in what happened to Lena and what connection there is (or isn’t) to the people currently involved. I don’t want to give much else anyway, but can just say that this is a really intriguing, exciting debut from Romy Hausmann and I’m really excited to read more by her in the future.
Many thanks to the publisher, Quercus, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.