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What did you like best about The Shuttered Room? What did you like least?
The idea of a young female hostage who has a screw loose sounded so interesting and this book may have been better read than heard though the narrator was wonderful even if some voices were grating. Sadly in the end, I just wanted the book to end.
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Jessica has made an escape attempt and it fell short. Jake managed to catch her in the orchard and haul her back to the house. There, Jake and his two fellow kidnappers (Justin and Kia) keep Jess for several weeks as they demand a sizable ransom from her rich parents. As Jess languishes in this attic room, the reader becomes privy to her life, both present and past. But soon the stress of the situation brings about a condition that has laid dormant for years and this slightly unhinges Jess, making her bold enough to try a few things she might not otherwise have done.
Early on, we learn that Jess as a kid believed she could see things living inside people and that those things (often weird, distended frogs) partially controlled the human they inhabited. Jess could hear their inner voice. Of course, she often spoke whatever that inner voice was saying and eventually it drew enough attention that she had to see a psychologist and was put on medication. Essentially, she became a bit of an outcast and I can see how that childhood experience shaped the adult Jess.
She marries, eventually, an older man who already has two daughters by his ex-wife and he doesn’t want any more children. At first, Jess is OK with this but eventually the longing to have a child becomes too much and she seeks ways to become pregnant by Henry. If you’ve read the description of the book, then you know if she was successful or not. Whether she was or not, you can easily see how her relationship with her husband became strained over the years. So by the time she is kidnapped, her life is rather messy anyway.
About half way through the novel, Jess finds a peep hole in the attic floor and spying on the goings-on below becomes her chief past time. She does gain some knowledge about her captors that she then uses in subtle ways. Sometimes, Jess uses this knowledge in a calculated manner. Sometimes it is hit or miss. After all, she hasn’t been kidnapped before and, in general with the exception of her husband, she doesn’t go around manipulating people. While I liked that this was true to the character, it did make some parts drag on a bit as Jess tried to work out how to use the knowledge she had.
Several times throughout the story, we have Jess mouthing the words the inner beasties say and several times this became almost stream of consciousness type of thing and it was hard to follow which beastie was saying what and also the relevance of it. Sometimes it was humorous and sometimes it was just obvious character traits. Sometimes it added to the story and sometimes it dragged the story out and I was just looking forward to the next scene.
I did enjoy several things about Jess. She is not a whiner. She knows this is a bad situation but she rarely looses it and is always thinking of a way to get out of the situation. She’s very practical in that sense. I enjoyed most of the flashbacks of her life up to this point as it gave me a strong sense of who she was. She’s a pretty uncreative person, but that might be to counterbalance the inner beasties she sees when she is having an episode. I wanted Jess to come out on top.
Her captors were somewhat interchangeable until the last third of the book. I kept getting Justin and Jake mixed up and Kia was window dressing. Towards the end, the personalities of Justin and Jake crystallized for me, mostly because I developed strong feelings towards one of them. I wish I had kept them straight from the beginning.
The ending drug on a bit and things got messy again for Jess. I’m not sure why she and one of the captors made the decisions they did. On one hand, it fits with Jess’s messy life. On the other hand, it was a less than satisfying ending for me as the reader. I wanted Jess to have some closure over the event and I don’t feel she really got that. Honestly, it felt like there needs to be a Book 2 set like 10 years later to wrap up some of this stuff.
I received a copy of this book from the narrator at no cost in exchange for an honest review.
The Narration: Rachel Shirley was a great fit for Jessica. She had a steady voice that fit Jess’s practical character. Shirley also performed regional accents for the various characters. They were each distinct and her male voices were believable. I especially liked her character voices when Jess was speaking for the inner beasties.
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