Can you hear?
It is the sound of a new favourite book of mine landing on the blog!
Title: Here To Stay
Author: Mark Edwards
Date of publication: 1 September 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: physical advanced reader’s copy
Number of pages: 396
Gemma Robinson comes into Elliot’s life like a whirlwind, and they marry and settle into his home. When she asks him if her parents can come to stay for a couple of weeks, he is keen to oblige – he just doesn’t quite know what he’s signing up for.
The Robinsons arrive with Gemma’s sister, Chloe, a mysterious young woman who refuses to speak or leave her room. Elliot starts to suspect that the Robinsons are hiding a dark secret. And then there are the scars on his wife’s body that she won’t talk about…
As Elliot’s in-laws become more comfortable in his home, encroaching on all aspects of his life, it becomes clear that they have no intention of moving out. To protect Gemma, and their marriage, Elliot delves into the Robinsons’ past. But is he prepared for the truth?
Let’s be very clear. Here To Stay is the first book by Mark Edwards that I have ever read. A couple of his previous novels are waiting on my TBR, and let me tell you, they won’t stay there for much longer! Mr Edwards, you have a new fan.
If Mr Edwards enjoy a really good reputation, it was the promise behind the synopsis that got my attention. I am not married (no, don’t be sad for me, I chose it!… and from what I’ve read, I am really happy not to be!) but many friends and family members are. We often ear that you don’t just marry one person, but her entire family with it. It has never been truer than for Elliot.
West Dulwich. Where it all begins. I have fond memories of my days living in this area. The descriptions of the quiet streets, the beautiful trees and flowers, and the amazing Victorian houses aligned on both sides of the roads took me back right away. Setting foot in Elliot’s house, with its sash windows and a lovely garden, big rooms and creaky stairs made me feel warm and safe. I knew then that whatever came next, the vivid narration style would make sure I stayed immersed in the book. Don’t be worried, you won’t find endless pages expressing how amazing this part of London is. In fact, we get to meet the house at the same time we get to meet some of the main characters. Colourful and with as much personality as the place, Elliot and Gemma’s meeting is like an old echo for what is to come… I know you want more details, but you’ll have to read the book to get them! I’ll only say that if I have never been a fan of whirlwind romance, Mark Edwards makes theirs absolutely obvious with the right amount of fate and that craziness taking over when your heart talks louder than your head.
Getting married is one step. Meeting the in-laws is another… I had an odd feeling about Jeff and Lizzy. I couldn’t put words on it but my nose wrinkled and my eyes sharpened to try and see beyond the newcomers’ faces. What should be one of the hundreds of natural things for couples to do became strangely off. And that’s the genius of Mark Edwards. Yes, many people complain about their in-laws. They nag their kids to have children, then disagree about how to raise them. They complain they don’t get enough visits. They whine about this and that. Next time someone moans about their family, hand them a copy of Here To Stay! You think you know what hell is? Meet Mark Edwards!
The entire novel feels like a vertiginous fall into darkness. It doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It creeps in. A nasty comment here. A weird whisper there. An event you can think of as an accident… Until accidents become too numerous to be innocent. Here To Stay reminded me of how Japanese movies and books create a claustrophobic setting right out of an ordinary thing (see why I didn’t stay to live there more than necessary?? I was scared!!) Here, we have a couple, a house, and parents who reminded me of cockroaches. Visiting your daughter should be a nice moment for everyone, but when the suitcases overstay, it leads to forced share of a place that should be safe and sacred. Add to the mix a sister whose presence is like a ghost and you have the perfect plot to scare your readers.
I read Here to Stay in one sitting. My curiosity turned to uneasiness and before I knew it, I felt sick for Elliot and Gemma, literally stuck in their house with unwanted ‘guests.’ My stomach churned, my nails disappeared as I bit them, looking for a way out, thinking ‘how is it possible?’ while knowing it actually could be possible. There is so much going on that the trap closing in on Elliot is made of different threads. Family relationships first. Gemma knows her parents. I believe this is why I never forgave her for inviting them. Of course, as a daughter, it is difficult to ever detach yourself completely from those who gave birth to you… Her sister. Another wonderful addition to this novel. Here without being physically among the characters for some time, before slowly joining them on the Horror Train to Hell, she made me happy I am an only child. Another thread that captivated me was how difficult it is to get rid of someone. Crime fiction often focuses on stalkers and exes who won’t take no for an answer. Here, it is almost worse as you wish your in-laws would get the hell out! I was baffled at how few solutions exist to help. Remind me to close my door to everyone. I mean everyone!
So what can you expect from Here To Stay? The most addictive and terrifying ordinary hell. Yes, that’s a good definition. A man signs a paper, and suddenly his quiet life turns into chaos. Can his relationship with the woman he loves and married survive? Can he survive this invasion of his house, his life, his everything? The more pages I turned, the eviller the book appeared. It almost burnt my fingers. The reality of it all, mixed with the truth, is toxic. Here To Stay is an outstanding psychological thriller that awoke the most primal instinct of survival in me. A deliriously intense and fun in the sickest way roller-coaster to the end of the world!
Hell will open on September 1st: here’s your ticket
I would like to send my biggest thanks to Midas for inviting me to be part of this amazing tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.
Author of the bestselling novel, The Magpies, Kissing Games, What You Wish For, Because She Loves Me, Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones and a number of novels with Louise Voss, Mark has sold well over three million copies of his novels. He grew up on the south coast of England and started writing in his twenties while working in a number of dead-end jobs. He lived in Tokyo for a year and is a great admirer of Japanese writers and horror films. Mark lives near Wolverhampton, England, with his wife, their three children and a ginger cat.