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Emma in the Night: A Novel by Wendy Walker

Emma in the Night: A Novel

by Wendy Walker

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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
It took me a bit to get into this book, but it was worth sticking with! The ending was not at all what I had expected or thought. Felt there was extra fluff put in about Dr. Winters. ( )
  Chelz286 | Aug 26, 2018 |
As you all know, I’m a huge sucker for missing person stories, fiction and non fiction alike. As someone who lurks on the Unresolved Mysteries subreddit, I am fully taken in by disappearances that remain unsolved, but will gladly admit that it’s a bit safer and less exploitative when it’s within fiction. So when I heard about “Emma in the Night”, the story of two sisters who go missing and one of them being found, I knew that I would need to read it ASAP. But little did I know that another unsettling reality/thriller trope managed to rear it’s head into this book as well: the narcissistic parent. As someone who also lurks on the subreddit that tells survival tales of escaping narcissistic family members, this was just an added bit of icing onto an already tantalizing cake. But Wendy Walker presented something far more complex and attention grabbing than I thought it was going to be, and does a good job of giving victims and survivors a voice instead of objectifying them for the sake of a good story.

The two different narratives are both steeped in unreliable perspectives. The first is that of Cass, the daughter who came back who clearly has a separate agenda from what she’s presenting to those around her. Through her we start to see that perhaps there are other villains in this world outside of the strangers that lurk behind every turn, and see that she has a deep vendetta against her mother Judy. Judy is a classic narcissistic personality, with a golden child (Emma) and a scapegoat (Cass), and the hatred that Cass feels towards her in palpable. I will admit that as I was going into this I was trying to find all the clues and hints towards what the end game was, but Walker hid them in such a way that I pretty much didn’t find them. Like, at all. I don’t know if my game was off, but the reading experience for me was disorienting in a good way because I KNEW that there was more to the story, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. I liked how much I questioned Cass as well, as while I pretty much believed her and her revulsion for her mother, I still wondered if she too didn’t have problems and ulterior motives because she was raised by a narcissist, and was therefore messed up herself because of it.

Abby, too, was an interesting character, with complexities and flaws that made her unreliable, but also completely sympathetic. She was also raised by a narcissistic mother, and therefore goes into this case with experience and the ability to recognize behaviors when it comes to Judy, Cass, and the missing Emma. She was used in a way for Walker to really put narcissism out there and to really dive into it, as Abby has her own past experiences with it because of her mother. I think that a lot of the time we see narcissistic parents in over the top ways (“Mother, Mother” by Koren Zailckas comes to mind) where they are scary monsters with deliberately violent or abusive tendencies. But in “Emma in the Night” we see a lot more of the less definable traits, like Judy manipulating her children into warfare against each other, or turning on a facade that wins her custody when she is actually a terrible parent. But then, there is the fact that Abby is completely biased, so we end up questioning her too. Because of these various red herrings and inconsistencies between the characters and their motivations, Walker’s sleight of hand distracted me enough throughout the narration that I didn’t see the ultimate prestige coming. Which I greatly appreciated by the time I finished out the book.

I will say that there were a couple of things that I did find a bit too convenient to be really believable. I don’t really want to spoil anything for anyone who might be interested in reading this, because I do think that it’s ultimately worth the read and a solid thriller, but just know that a couple of things within the ultimate solution to the whole thing just kind of felt too coincidental for me to take it terribly seriously. Yes, life is random, and yes, technically anything is possible, but when it comes to probability that’s where certain plot points in this book start to get a little iffy. It’s not enough to put me off, just know that it knocked a couple of points off if we’re keeping score. I think that sometimes authors can get carried away with the red herrings, but Walker actually got carried away with trying to eliminate as many red herrings as possible and to make unreliability more reliable.

Overall I think that “Emma in the Night” did a good job of keeping this reader on her toes. I am definitely going to look into whatever Walker comes out with next (I would actually love to see more of Abby Winter as well), and definitely think that thriller fans ought to give her a go. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Aug 20, 2018 |
Teenaged sisters Emma and Cass go missing one night under mysterious circumstances. Three years later, Cass returns alone with a wild story about being held hostage on an island off the coast of Maine and insists that Emma is still being coerced to stay there against her will. Is Cass telling the truth and can the FBI find Emma before something even worse happens?

This was a very interesting psychological thriller. There is a minimum of gore/extreme violence (although there are some references to rape and other crimes) and is primarily focused on characters, which is exactly my kind of story. There is much talk about family dynamics, especially the dysfunction of the main family, including their power plays. What I liked as well is that the book has a number of twists -- you can tell from early on that not everything is as it seems, but there were quite a few unexpected turns.

The audiobook is narrated quite well. ( )
  sweetiegherkin | Jul 30, 2018 |
This is a difficult review for me to write, simply because I don't know if I can explain exactly how I felt about this book. So here goes. I applaud this author for trying different things, her first book and this one were a little different, covering physchological issues in an original way. In this one she tackles narcissistic personality disorder, and the mainstream effects on the family, but she turns it into an unsolved mystery.

I know someone who grew up with such a mother, saw the games played, the harmful effects and the manipulations. In my opinion the author doesn't delve far enough into this issue for Cass to set things up the way she did after her return. It didn't make sense to me, and so I was doubtful of what followed. It is very slowly paced as clues are uncovered, and Cass tells her story in bits and pieces. Which also didn't make sense, because if her motivation was true, wanted her story to be believed, wouldn't she have wanted the searching to begin immediately? So much of this, for me, didn't hang together. We are meant, I think to feel sympathy for Cass, but except for her half brother, I didn't really like any of these characters. Plus, since the story was so drawn out I figured out most of it before books end.

I did keep reading though, and this can be seen as physchologically twisty. Many have loved it, and many more will. It is as I said a little different from what is out there right now, which is why I rated this a three. Just wish there had been more of some things, and less of others. Still don't think I explained this well, but this will have to do.

ARC from Netgalley. ( )
  Beamis12 | May 10, 2018 |
This is twisted!! That's the only way I know how to describe this novel, COMPLETELY TWISTED!

Emma and her sister,Cass, have disappeared. Three years later Cass returns home with a strange story about her and Emma's whereabouts. I really do not want to get into more of the story than that. I will give something away. And believe me….you do not want to know about it till you read it!

A large amount of research went into this novel. I learned a great deal about narcissistic behavior and its effects on a family. The coping mechanisms of a family member to survive this disorder are incredible.

I have no words to describe the creativity of Wendy Walker. She can come up with some psycho characters and tales which take a long time to get over. Her first novel, All is Not Forgotten, was a five star read for me. Just like this book….I did not want to give the story away. You must read these novels, especially if you love psychological thrillers.

The story bogs down a little for me in the middle. This is the only reason I did not give a five star read. But the twist at the end……oh my my! "What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." – Walter Scott

"I could feel the scream inside me. I had felt it that morning when I had to cover my mouth with a pillow so no one would hear." - Emma in the Night

I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review. ( )
  fredreeca | May 10, 2018 |
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"One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime"--… (more)

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