Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Book Review: The Safe Place by Anna Downes

Title: The Safe Place
Author: Anna Downes
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: July 14th 2020
Print Length: 368 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Welcome to paradise...will you ever be able to leave?


Emily Proudman just lost her acting agent, her job, and her apartment in one miserable day.


Scott Denny, a successful and charismatic CEO, has a problem that neither his business acumen nor vast wealth can fix.

Until he meets Emily.


Scott offers Emily a summer job as a housekeeper on his remote, beautiful French estate. Enchanted by his lovely wife, Nina, and his eccentric young daughter, Aurelia, Emily falls headlong into this oasis of wine-soaked days by the pool. But soon Emily realizes that Scott and Nina are hiding dangerous secrets, and if she doesn't play along, the consequences could be deadly.

I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers, so when the opportunity arose to read The Safe Place by Anna Downes, I jumped at the chance! Luckily, I ended up loving this book!

Emily Proudman just can't catch a break. After losing her job as well as her acting agent, things are looking grim. After being late on the rent again, she's also facing eviction from her apartment. However, things start looking up when she runs into Scott Denny. Scott, a successful CEO of the company she's just been fired from, feels like Emily would be perfect working for his wife, Nina, and living on their very remote property in France. Things seem perfect, but they are a little too perfect. When Emily finds out the truth behind Nina's and Scott's ideal life, she puts herself in grave danger and finds out how far some people will go to protect their secrets.

While the idea behind The Safe Place has been done before, Downes does a fantastic job of making it feel like it was her idea and hers alone. To me, The Safe Place felt like it was a slow burn as the action didn't really take place until towards the end. I would say the first 85 percent of the book or so is just the backstory and build up to all the action which happens in the last few chapters. The pacing is a little slow throughout most of the book, but it isn't so slow that I became bored - quite the contrary. While the pacing is fairly slow, I did enjoy what I read thanks to Downes' brilliant way with words. There are a few plot twists although I found them fairly easy to figure out, but I think that's only because I've read so many psychological thrillers before. Some of my guesses were wrong though, I admit. Even though there's an epilogue, I would have liked to have known more about what happened with Denny family. I just need a little more closure when it came to that.

Downes did a fantastic job with all of her characters. It was easy to imagine every single character in The Safe Place as a real person. The main characters all had plenty of backstory (or just enough to keep them mysterious), and the minor characters were all described very well. I liked how Emily seemed to want to please those around her. While she didn't feel like a pushover, it was nice to see her wanting to fit in with her new employer as well as Yves, the sometimes handyman. Nina was definitely an interesting character. I didn't know what to make of her before Emily met her in the book, but once Emily met Nina, and I read more about her, I ended up liking her. (I kept trying to figure out why Scott didn't want to be around her though.) Aurelia, the Denny's daughter, was my favorite character. She seemed like such a sweet little girl who had been through so much. I found myself wishing I could meet Aurelia and give her a hug (only if she'd let me since she took a long time to warm up to people). 

Trigger warnings for The Safe Place include profanity, mental illness, alcohol use, prescription pill abuse, self harm, violence, and attempted murder. 

Overall, The Safe Place is a highly intriguing book that makes each and every word on the page come alive. With a great set of characters, beautiful descriptions of the scenery, and a highly intriguing plot, this is one book that's sure to become a best seller. I would definitely recommend The Safe Place by Anna Downes to those aged 20+ who enjoy psychological thrillers and/or want to be instantly transported into a fantastic book!
(A special thank you to Minotaur Books for sending me a paperback ARC of The Safe Place by Anna Downes. A review was not required but appreciated. This was my honest and unbiased review.)

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