3 out of 4 stars
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In the dark of the night you think every shadow that you see is a threat. In the adrenaline rush of fear, you try and explain it away with rationalisations. What if those shadows were real and belong to beings of such horror and destruction that they’re beyond your comprehension? This is one of the premises of Karen Glista’s thriller, The Taking of Peggy Martin.
Grieving over her husband’s sudden death, Peggy is lost. With only her faith in God to hold onto, Peggy throws herself into her work at the mental institution, but when a patient, Morgan, is transferred to her ward, strange things start to occur. Blaming lack of sleep for the things she sees, Peggy starts to question her own sanity, but when Morgan acts like he knows her and his own terror escalates, she is caught up along with him.
When it comes to light that not all was what it seemed with her husband’s death, Peggy is suddenly the focus of an evil presence residing in Cypress Creek. With the help of Marbelle and her son, can Peggy find out the truth about her husband, Morgan and the residents of Cypress Creek, as well as survive the outcome?
Written in first person from Peggy’s perspective, the reader gets to know her character in the most detail. As she feels her sanity and her humanity derailing, the reader understands the strength in Peggy’s character as she questions her faith. There are multiple characters in the book, but that of Marbelle is one of strength and stability and deserves to be mentioned. Like an overprotective mother hen, she gives Peggy a longed for mother figure as well as emphasising the obstacles one will go through for the sake of their child.
Set in the 1950s in Texas, the setting is mainly of swamps and forest, far away from human habitation. The imagery here is such that the reader can almost feel the oppressive heat and humidity as the trees themselves feel like they are pressing in. This imagery helps to emphasise the overwhelming fear which runs throughout the novel, with never a clue as to where the next threat will come from.
The writing itself, while vivid and compelling, had multiple editorial errors from punctuation to the wrong use of a word. Also some words, such as begot, although in keeping with the religious aspect, were overused and not necessary. The speech of some of the characters were written phonetically in southern drawl, and as someone not from the States, I found it difficult to understand at first.
While the story is fast paced at times, with edge of your seat suspense, towards the end it dragged. As there was so much going on, it felt like it lost its way to some extent, before coming back together at the end.
I was not prepared to be as scared as I was reading this book. It started out as just an average story, then spiralled quickly into fear, conspiracy and gore. I like to be surprised by books and this one certainly did that. However, due to the editorial mistakes I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. This is definitely not a book for the faint hearted as it has graphic scenes of gore, rape and dismemberment. Readers who enjoy a thriller with a religious undertone will like this book.
The Taking of Peggy Martin
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