For two years Nicky has wandered the dark empty corridors of the overgrown Thorn Hall, unseen and untouched, feeling like a ghost. His only company, the cold man who promised to keep him safe from harm, Lance. But when Lance dies, Nicky’s assurance of safety disintegrates and his world suddenly becomes a lot more real and a lot more dangerous. Scared to leave the house, Nicky longs for daylight. He employs a gardener to clear the over-grown bushes and vines that have nearly swallowed Thorn Hall whole. The last thing Nicky expects a little light to do is show him something to fight for.
Eighteen months in a young offenders’ institute has taught Cai two things: he occupies the playful puppy end of the How Dangerous Are You? spectrum, and he has an unfortunate knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Desperate for a job, he takes the first offer he gets. Even though Thorn Hall creeps the hell out of him and he barely knows one end of a pair of garden shears from the other.
Things start to fall apart when Cai is drawn into Nicky’s strange world of sticky notes and secrets. Cai finds he is now a target, blamed for a crime he didn’t commit. Desperate not to go back to prison, he digs deep and risks all the good things in life to help Nicky run. But now Nicky has someone he wants to protect, he knows he can’t run any more.
I will read anything Suki Fleet writes and this story is a true testament of my dedication. This story pushed my boundaries and took me to places that I tend to steer clear of, or in all honesty, run away from. It was freaky! But I can admit when freaky can be fabulous and this is definitely freaky fabulous. Suki is a true master of intense characters and I found myself drawn to this damaged duo despite all warning bells ringing in my head. This twisted tale was…messed up but in the most intoxicating way. If you know and adore her writing, please understand this is not one of her standard stories but her signature is still all over it. If this happens to be your first experience with her, prepare for a crash & burn course of the greatness of her spellbinding words.
If I had to describe this story in one word it would be potent. It was strong and harsh and nearly too much at times. I had to pace myself. I had to take breaks. I had to remind myself it was only a story when the lights when out. More suspenseful than a thriller but regardless, I was tense and anxious as I read. The blurb is a clear-cut description of what you are preparing to embark on.
Nicky is lost…trapped in a prison of terror. He exists but just barely. When his protector dies his panic button is held fast and never releases. He is living a nightmare and can’t decide if he’d rather wake or close his eyes in an endless slumber. When Cal breaches the edges of his complex and dark world, everything changes. Nicky is prickly and sharp-tongued but Cal sees straight through his defenses. He can’t help his urge to protect him but he never knew the extent of the obstacles ahead. And let me tell you, they are frightful and severe.
As always, it’s Suki’s characters that grab ahold of my heart…and hold tight. Nicky. Oh my sweet broken boy. The misery…the torment…the suffering is SO much that I thought he would never recover. And this is precisely when Cal stumbles into the picture. The estate is straight out of a gothic horror movie. I don’t watch those but it’s everything I imagined them to be. The estate is slowly dying, if it was possible for a house to die, and Nicky is trapped within the walls. I am entirely convinced Nicky would die without Cal. Then…they become the reason for one another. Cal is the reason Nicky won’t give up and Nicky is the reason Cal won’t give in. It’s slow. It’s excruciating. It’s impressive. The plot is thick, the characters are all very well fleshed out and without a doubt, I felt the British influence. In the end, it boils down to Nicky and Cal…and that’s all that really matters.
Patience is a virtue during the first half, I believe it could have used those cursed trimmers a bit. Slow and controlled breathing is necessary during the second half, I could have used one of those envelopes myself! It’s not really a horror but it has its horrific parts.
The tolerant reader looking for a twisted mystery that will shine in the end. There’s not much more I can say without spoiling, so…beware!