Tuesday 20 May 2014


Book review: The Book of You by Claire Kendal

My edition: Paperback (proof), published on 24 April 2014 by HarperCollins, 361 pages.

Description: Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won't leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.

Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can't be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.

Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

But how do you protect yourself from an enemy no one else can see?


The 'you' in the novel's title refers to Rafe, Clarissa's colleague and stalker. Increasingly worried about his obsession with her, she's been advised to keep a journal of all the times she's noticed him watching and following, the threatening things he whispers when he manages to catch her alone and the sinister 'gifts' that he puts through her mail box. Because unless he physically harms Clarissa there is no proof that he is in fact a threat to her and it isn't just all in her head. It is her word against his, and to the outside world he seems harmless, friendly even, which makes it even more scary and impossible for Clarissa. No-one believes her.

Clarissa's fear radiates from the pages of the novel as it becomes clear that the authorities will be of little help until she's gathered extensive evidence. And even then there's no guarantee that they can do anything meaningful other than slap a restraining order on Rafe, which really doesn't prevent him from going after her again. To make matters worse, Clarissa is called for jury duty and in the case she's working on the female victim has a lot of evidence and witnesses testifying that what she says is true yet despite all this she's harassed and treated like a lowly criminal. All this only re-enforces what Clarissa knew all along: she's alone in her fight against Rafe.

Stalking is not a subject I've given much thought in the past and even when I did, I assumed that the victim could fairly easily get rid of the nuisance by going to the police and getting a restraining order. This novel has forcefully opened my eyes and made me realise it's not as easy as that and that 'just' stalking can have much more severe consequences too. It seems that you have to get physically harmed first, before your voice gets heard, and that is a very frightening thought.

The Book of You was terrifyingly realistic and haunting from the first page. The fast-paced story made this a real page-turner, as with each chapter finished the tension increases until the reader is on the edge of his or her seat for the final third of the novel. Highly engrossing, this is a worthy contender to become the next big thing in the increasingly popular psychological thriller sub-genre.

You can purchase a copy of the novel from Waterstones, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or your own preferred retailer.

Many thanks to the publisher for providing an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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