Book Review: Emma in the Night

Emma in the Night - Book Review

Emma in the Night Cover

Author: Wendy Walker
Pages: 320
Published: August 8, 2017
Available in Paperback: No (as of 3/15/18)
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
I’ve always loved mysteries and thrillers as novels, so when I got my library’s copy of Emma in the Night, I was excited. The novel is centered around Cass and Emma who mysteriously vanish one night when Cass is 15 and Emma is 17. Three years later, Cass returns home and insists everyone must go look for Emma. The novel is told in alternating chapters between Cass in first person point of view and Dr. Abby Winter in the third person. Walker, author of the best seller All is Not Forgotten, does a magnificent job leaving the reader wondering what is the truth and what is a lie. In this story, Cass seems a bit unstable and unreliable. Her mother is a narcissistic maniac. Her father is an emotional mess. Her step father is a self-obsessed egocentric. It’s up to Dr. Abby Winter and her partner, Leo, to weed through Cass’s story and find the truth which will finally lead them to Emma.
I really enjoyed this novel! I am usually a great predictor of endings, but this one had me guessing until the end. I knew things weren’t adding up, but I couldn’t quite figure out where or why. Walker did a great job keeping up with the suspense. It was interesting how it was told in both first person and third person. After reading the novel, it makes sense, but in the beginning, I’ll admit to being a bit thrown off by it. I usually prefer consistency, either totally in first person or all in third person. However, Walker wants you to hear Cass’s story from inside her head and understand her feelings and why she’s doing what she’s doing. Dr. Abby, on the other hand, is unweaving Cass’s story. While she doesn’t have some opinions and history of her own, it’s nothing like Cass’s. It’s clear that this story belongs to Cass. Here are my pros and cons to this novel:
Pros
A fun read – I was able to finish this book in less than a week! It moves quickly.
Great suspense – I wasn’t sure where it was going until the very end.
Psychological in more than one way – all of the characters are unreliable in their own way. Walker does a great job going into the character detail, especially focusing on Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Cons
Somewhat unbelievable – Cass’s personality jumps around a bit too much in my opinion.
Switching POVs – from characters to first and third person, it took some time to get used to.
While I love the take on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, at times it was mentioned and talked about a bit too much. This didn’t bother me too badly, but it was a bit repetitive.
Spoilers!
If you are interested in reading this novel, STOP READING MY REVIEW NOW and go pick up a copy! If you’ve already read it, or if for some reason my intriguing description above doesn’t tickle your fancy and you want to know more of my thoughts on the book, forge on ahead!
As I read through the book, I didn’t know what to expect. Was Emma on the island with Cass? Where did she end up? How could Cass escape without Emma and her baby? In the end, when it was obvious Emma wasn’t on the island, I asked myself why Cass would go through so much trouble in running away to an island. When it was revealed that Emma had been pushed off the balcony and broke her neck by Mrs. Martin and Cass ran away because she feared for her life, I accepted that ending! I thought it was good and it fit the story. It reminded me a lot of the movie, The Uninvited. One sister is there but the other isn’t – she’s made up (but for completely different reasons than that movie! The girl in the movie had a lot of mental illness). Cass always knew Emma was dead but hoped otherwise. She followed the news stories and tried to hold onto hope. I think we all do that, don’t we? In our heads, we know something to be true, but in our hearts we hope against all odds that we are wrong? That was great. I thought it was a little odd that the sweet Cass ended up pregnant with her step-brother’s baby considering how sweet she’d been throughout her narration, but it made for a good plot twist. I knew there was some baby on the island from how Cass talked about it, but I kept thinking maybe it was Emma’s, right up until the last few chapters!
I didn’t love Abigail Winter as much as I wanted to. Her character played an important part in the novel, as a psychologist who studied Narcissistic Personality Disorder and worked for the FBI to help solve the case. But man, Cass left some pretty abstract bread crumbs for the team to follow… Yet Abby and Leo were able to find them with relative ease. That was a little unbelievable, in my opinion. In reality, the cops would have probably accepted what Cass offered at face value, did their basic interviews, and left. It was some serious investigation on Abby’s part to solve this case!
In the end, it was a little sad that Emma ended up giving her life to out-play her mother for power and control. Considering how much Mrs. Martin used Emma to find value in herself, I found it odd that she would just let Emma die like that. Why not grab her and save her and hold that over her for forever? “You owe me your life”, kind of thing. But that wouldn’t have made the novel, I suppose.
Overall, I found it very good! I am definitely going to pick up Walker’s other novel and give it a read. I liked it a lot and am giving it a solid 4/5 stars!
If you like mystery/suspense/thriller novels with young, female protagonists, this book is for you. Give it a read today! If you’ve already read Emma in the Night, let me know what you thought about it in the comments!

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