Today it’s my great pleasure to be joining the blog blitz for The Puppet Master by Abigail Osborne which is released today. Originally self published, the book is being re-released by Bloodhound Books. As I’ve had the book sat on my tbr for a while, this was the perfect excuse to move it on up the list. We’ll see my thoughts in just a moment, but first up, the all important bookish bits.
The Official Book Blurb
Billie is hiding from the world in fear of a man who nearly destroyed her. But a chance meeting with budding journalist, Adam, sparks a relationship that could free her from her life of isolation and fear.
Unbeknown to Billie, Adam knows exactly who Billie is and is determined to expose her and get justice for the lives he believes she has ruined. But first, he needs to convince her to open up to him. As an unwanted attraction blossoms between them, Adam comes to realise that all is not as it seems.
Who is really pulling the strings? And are Adam and Billie both being played?
One thing is for sure, The Master wants his puppets back – and he’ll do anything to keep them.
Well. I have heard really glowing reports about this book for a while now and having finally read it, I can understand why. Opening in a fairly mundane way, just a girl going to grab a coffee, it doesn’t take long to realise that there is something not quite right about Billie. Something that she is hiding from. Something, or someone, that has her isolating herself and living by routine simply through the power of fear. When a stranger sits at her table, it is all she can do to maintain polite conversation. When he calls her beautiful … well from then on in things start to change, quite rapidly, and Billie is taken on a journey which will see her facing a potential happiness, only to risk having it all snatched away by her very dark past.
This book touches upon some very difficult subjects – those of control and domination; of someone who will go to great lengths to gain trust, only to isolate another in order to get what they want from them. The kind of psychological abuse which is wrapped up in a kind of perverse love and affection, only to be completely undone by unforgivable abuse. And in this case, it truly is unforgiveable. Not just verbal abuse or violence, but sexual abuse which in this case leaves a particularly bad taste in the readers mouth. It is not done in an unnecssarily blatant way, but there is no getting away from the fact that the person suffering the abuse in this book is no more than a child. And then there is the emotional abuse inflicted upon another child, one who is too close to the subject to even realise it is happening. Total skin crawling time right there. Gah!
But there is more to the book than just the abuse angle. At its heart you have two characters, Billie and Adam, who are both victims, although neither one would realise it until it is almost too late. When they meet, it is almost like fate, but not in any fairy tale kind of way. Their lives intersect in the most shocking of ways, but there is still an undeniable chemistry between them which the author develops well as the story progresses. You can’t help but hope, beyond all reason, that they can find a way to be together, even if it seems impossible when both are keeping secrets, ones which should and would tear them apart.
Told through the eyes of both Billie and Adam, the story progresses really quickly, and both characters are engaging and interesting enough to hold the reader’s attention. You quickly become invested in them. Their voices are distinct, always important when the narrative switches between characters in this way, and their stories quite tragic. You can feel Billie’s nervousness seep form the page, picture her fear and empathise with the ultimate decisions she makes. And Adam is an overwhelmingly likeable person in spite of our initial introduction to him, which might suggest otherwise. And he’s a reporter. Always sensible to be wary … However, you are faced with a terrible dilemma as both are also seemingly unreliable narrators. You cannot tell immediately which one of them to trust. It is only as the story unfolds that the full picture becomes clear.
And then there is the third voice. The unnamed voice of the person who is watching Billie, delighting in her misery, determined above all else to see her suffer. There is a dark feeling about this person. A malevolence. I wasn’t entirely surprised by their identity, but I was amazed by the level of their deviousness and the depth they would stoop too. Manipulation of the worst possible kind.
Overall a cracking debut from an author to watch. Abigail Osborne has really captured the heart of a good psychological thriller, developing characters and situations which really hold your attention, and at times, particularly the highly tense closing chapters, have you holding your breath.
With thanks to the author and publishers Bloodhound Books for the advance copy for review. The Puppet Master is available now from the following retailers:
About the Author
Abigail is originally from the Lake District but moved to the West Midlands for University where she completed an English Literature & History degree and also met her husband. She is a passionate reader and has an unsustainable collection of books. This obsession with books has led to her creating her own Dewey decimal system and she has been known to issue fines to family and friends if her book is not returned on time.
‘The Puppet Master’ is Abigail’s debut novel and has unleashed a passion for writing. When not writing or reading Abigail is usually playing her violin or hiding from her much too energetic cats. She also works as a Needs Assessor for disabled university students in the West Midlands.
Make sure to check out some of the other brilliant blogs taking part in the tour.