”We believe what we want to believe. We believe what we need to believe.”
Emma in the Night tells the story of two sisters, Cass and Emma who both go missing one night. No one knows what happened to the girls, whether they are alive or dead and who or what prompted them disappear. Until Cass returns three years later, alone without her sister.
With a story that doesn’t quite add up, Dr Abby Winter looks into Cass and her dysfunctional family’s past to try and uncover just what happened to the girls and what has become of Emma.
First off, I LOVED this book. From the high level of mystery and alternating points of perspective between Cass and Dr Winter, this novel was a compelling and fast paced story from start to finish. Cass our main character, whilst as mysterious as she was and at times a little suspicious, was easy to empathize and follow along with on her winding tale of what happened to both her and her sister whilst also revealing the sordid details of her family life. From a mother who will stop at nothing to gain the attention and love of those around her and a step brother and step father who are both equally as toxic as the other, Emma and Cass had it hard from the get-go.
After their mother and father divorce and they are moved in with their mother’s new husband and son, their lives slowly begin to go down and dark and twisted road. Emma, aware of her new step-brothers interest in her, proceeds to manipulate and engage in a back and forth war with him for many years. Hunter’s unhealthy interest in Emma, leads to Emma acting out and pushing them both to their limits within their personal and academic lives. Cass, remains a reluctant observer of Emma’s battles with their stepbrother and Mother, whilst slowly revealing the outcome of events slowly throughout the novel. For each part of the story that is revealed, another question is posed. I found myself wanting more and more the further along the story I got.
At first I thought I couldn’t come to like Emma, but ultimately found myself rooting for her as much as I was Cass. Both girls suffered a volatile mother and a father too weak to stand up for himself. You could argue that there was never going to be a good outcome in a situation like this, fictional or not. The more you learn about their family members, the more you understand Emma and Cass’s actions.
On the other hand you have the chapters of story told from Dr Abby Winters’ perspective that provide additional explanation of the case surrounding Cass’s reappearance and the desperate search for Emma. Together with fellow agent Leo Strauss, they work to read between the lines of Cass’s far-fetched story and go through old leads to figure out what they missed during the original disappearance case three years ago. It becomes clear that Abby also had a troubled upbringing and relationship with her mother that is either hindering her ability to have an objective view of the facts, or is working as an asset. It is something that leaves you guessing who is being truthful, who is overreacting and who is the reliable source.
In my opinion, Emma in the Night, was a very well written piece, not giving away too much too soon, and leaving you wanting more at the right tipping points of the story. I actually found this review a little hard to write without giving away too much of the plot or ending due to so many twists and turns, but I would definitely encourage anyone who is a fan of a good mystery and suspense thriller, to give this one a shot! I will be making sure I read author Wendy Walker’s first novel, after enjoying this one so much.
Goodreads Rating: 3.84
Amazon Rating: 4.2 stars
My Rating: 5/5