I am doing a happy dance! Consider yourself lucky you’re not witness it as I dance like a twig. But nothing matters except that today, I get to review Louise Jensen’s latest novel, The Family!
Title: The Family
Author: Louise Jensen
Date of publication: 3 October 2019
Format: NetGalley e-ARC
Rating: 5 ⭐️
ONCE YOU’RE IN, THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE.
Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.
But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family’, sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.
Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…
Louise Jensen is the first author I read as a book blogger. Her debut, The Sister, was my very first ARC. It feels like we jumped together into the big swimming pool of the serious book industry. I couldn’t be happier to be able to support her with every book. Now I won’t lie, she has a huge responsibility. I rely on her to deliver my favorite psychological thrillers. You know, the ones who stay with you. The ones you think of when a song plays on the radio. The ones you remember when the house creaks. The ones who inspire you a tattoo…
Let’s meet The Family.
A grieving wife struggling to cope with the loss of her husband, her relationship with her daughter, and the psychological and financial aspects of her new life. This is but a simple description of Laura. She is an amazing character dealing with grief, fear, and a tornado of emotions she can’t put words on. It is her temporary vulnerability that drives Laura and her daughter Tilly to a local farm where people live together and help each other. This may sound familiar. This may make you roll your eyes. Isn’t this the usual trap people fall into? Someone nice strikes a conversation with a woman or a man in need, and suddenly their life is changed forever as they slowly slip down the road of cults. If you fear about reading a simplistic story, let me assure you that despite the pattern being one we frightfully hear on TV or read in newspapers, Louise Jensen does more than rehash an old scenario. She delves deep into the reasons pushing someone to seek comfort in a community. She scratches at the loneliness that bleeds from our injuries, making us the perfect prey for the world around us. I was captivated by her account of Laura fighting her way through the hardest part of her life. I was totally engrossed, totally repulsed, totally mesmerized. It was so painful to read Laura’s struggle. What happens when what we need is for someone to reach out, to hold a hand? What if this hand hides more than what we were looking for?
Laura’s decision to move to the farm for a little while with Tilly affects her relationship with her daughter, and this part is my favorite. Tilly is a teenager. A full-blown teenager with issues, dreams, and most of all, a constant battle between what she needs and what she says.
Louise’s portray of this lost daughter, malleable, bold but sensible, and her relationship with her mother, was so spot-on it it blew me away. The way the author described a situation through the mother’s eyes, then through her daughter’s, and how the reader can feel the gap between them, the misunderstanding, and yet so much love… This is exceptional. Like with all of Louise’s books, I felt I was watching a movie, my pupils were creating this world because each word was a pixel offering me a clear image. I got all the feelings!
I’d like to point out that Louise Jensen’s decision to explore a family dynamic revolving around a cult is fantastic. I saw the signs. Yet I was attracted by what the farm had to offer. I worried, yet I couldn’t leave. I believe Louise put her finger on a very important thing: we often seek something different when our world falls apart. There is no big business going on. Laura and Tilly enter a small group, they work around the farm, they cook, they talk. The slide towards something darker is so subtle that it makes you shiver with no reason. But when the full picture is revealed, it is pure fear running through your veins. The fear that consumes Laura when she realizes that she has put herself and her daughter in danger but running away from your ‘regular’ dangers in life.
That ending? It ripped my heart open! It screams love, it plays with your head, it makes you wonder about what you thought you’d understand. It makes you rethink your judgement. The Family perfectly turns psychological tension into a burning fire, fueling it with good and bad intentions.
There is so much going on in this novel that I am only brushing its surface. Find suspense,
I grew so attached to the characters that I am still in the middle of a giant book hangover, weeks after reading the novel. I highly recommend you add this one to your collection!!
Louise Jensen delivers once again. The Family is a stunning and engrossing tale of vulnerability and power.
I would like to thank HQ for inviting me to be part of this blog tour.
The Sister was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award. The Date was nominated for The Guardian’s ‘Not The Booker’ Prize 2018. The Surrogate has been nominated for the best Polish thriller of 2018. The Gift has been optioned for a TV film.
Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers