Cover Image: Safe

Safe

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Safe by S.K. Barnett plays on every parents worst nightmare, a missing child. Twelve years ago six year old Jenny Kristal goes missing whilst going to a friends house, but now she is back. Her parents Laurie and Jack are overwhelmed but less so is her brother Ben. As questions are asked, where has she been, who has she been with and why doesn’t Ben trust her?, Jenny is vague so what is she hiding. You may think you know how this book goes, but believe me you don’t. Safe is a fast paced, twisty rollercoaster of a psychological thriller that will take your breath away.

S.K. Barnett is a pseudonym for a best selling author who has a previous book turned into a film, and it shows in the writing and plotting of this book. The main narrator is Jenny, or Jobeth as she was called by Mother and Father who took her as a child. There are also chapters nararated by her parents and brother. The first person narrative makes their story more personal, getting the story first hand and feeling thier emotions. As I was reading this book it felt like the four main characters, Jenny, Laurie, Jake and Ben are all playing apart, trying to be the perfect family, like dolls in a doll house before the cracks begin to appear, and when they do the whole family dismantle.

As a thriller you know this book is not going to be straight forward, that there will twists, turns, shocks and surprises and Safe has this in abundance. The last third of this book hurtles along like a runaway train, gaining speed as it travels towards it’s catastrophic conclusion. The tension and a sense of fear keep building, and my eyes were glued to this book as I just had to find out what was going to happen next . There are difficult issues raised in this book including sexual abuse, physical and mental abuse and rape, and I will be honest that some scenes did horrify me. I would love to know who the author is, whose writing hypnotised me and whose plot had me totally gripped and took me on one breathtaking journey.

Safe has all the components that make up the perfect psychological thriller; an unreliable narrator, it plays on every parents worst nightmare. a plot that grips and won’t let go, and is complex and clever. In the book Ben, the brother and son, has a favourite phrase that completely sums up this book ‘perception is not reality’, nothing is what it seems. Safe is a book you need to read and experience for yourself, and I highly recommend you do so get clicking. Dark and twisted, complex and clever, you will realise that Safe is not something anyone will be.
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Jenny Kristal was just six years old when she was snatched from the streets of her quiet suburban neighbourhood.  Twelve years later she returned home after she escaped from her kidnappers. Now she's safely back home - or is she.

This is one of those Books that you know where it's going but you decide to read it anyway. But how wrong were you to surmise this. It only takes a few chapters for you to realise it's not what you thought after all. There's some trigger warnings: sexual and physical abuse being the most prominent ones. I was hooked from the beginning.  The tension builds gradually.  I liked the twist at the end. Jenny is traumatised and damaged. It's mysterious, thrilling and well written. 

I would like to thank NetGalley,  Random House UK, Cornerstone and the author SK Barnett for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Good story, the formatting made it a bit tricky to read, but of course that is just due to the ARC. Took me a while to finish, but overall a decent read.
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When Jenny Kristal was just six years old she was abducted from her quiet street while walking the short distance to visit her friend to play with. Nobody noticed anything at all, no strangers or strange cars. Zilch - nothing at all suspicious. The Police, the public and even a Private Investigator tried to work out what had happened to her. Her family; mother, father and brother were devastated. The publicity the case aroused was almost unprecedented, but still there were no leads to solve the mystery.
Twelve long years later Jenny walks into the local Police Station and tells her story: a story of degradation, neglect, unimaginable abuse, isolation, poverty and lots more. Her shocked family are so pleased to be reunited with her and she responds to their caring and nurturing with revelling in sharing her early childhood memories. The furore of clamouring press interest around the house stuns her. She shies away from the overwhelming media attention and finds the exhausting questions by the FBI challenging and distasteful. All she wants is to be left alone, safe within her family and to be left to get on with her life. Shadows, lies, deceit and dishonesty follow close behind her. Something is amiss but Jenny clings on awaiting acceptance and a quiet family life in safety. Her story is heart wrenching and she does her best to plug the holes. She cannot keep it in; she has to let it out – but then what? This is her story, full of intrigue, mystery, intensity, misery and now what?
I was hooked on this story from the first few pages. The build-up was handled superbly. It was real edge of your seat addictive. Then it wasn’t and became quite dark, slower paced and frankly disappointing. I hoped for better later on in the story and I have to say I was amply rewarded, because soon to come was thrilling, fast-paced genius. As for the ending, well I could not have asked for more. It was faster than a rollercoaster, dynamic and as twisted as I had hoped it would be. I didn’t really take to any of the characters even though they were very well created, developed and eclectic. I liked the retired PI who became a central character nearer the finale. I thought he was the best character of all. His part could have been expanded further and fully introduced sooner. Overall I certainly enjoyed this novel. There was so much I admired about it.
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Well this book is certainly a twisted tale 
It follows a young girl who we believe disappeared when she was 6 years old from her cul de sac. She has been missing for 12 years when a girl appears and the police return her to her home Jenny was home. 
But her brother Ben is very unhappy about her return and is horrible to her her mum is overjoyed rushes out the following day to buy her a new bed and lots of clothes 
Jake the dad seems a little wary of her. Underlying this story Jenny tells the story of jobeth who is sold for drugs as a young child and is abused by her parents 
The two stories do become entangled when Jenny realises Ben knows she is a fake but how does he prove it ? 
There is a fabulous couple of twists in this book that I certainly didn’t see coming !
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Wow, what a book, full of twists and turns and the twists had twists in them as well...There were lots of moments where i stopped reading and thought OMG what just happened...it was a pure psychological thriller and scary at times. Loved the suspense.
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Such a cleverly written book full of twists with every turn of the page. Is Jenny back? Where has she been all these years? What secrets is she hiding? This has me guessing y too the very end and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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Jenny goes missing and then she turns up. Is she who she says she is? If not why would she lie? And more importantly is she safe. A great story, full of twists and turns. Keeps you guessing and gripped to the very end. My first read by this author and I loved it!
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This book had me gripped from the very first page. I suppose you’d call it a psychological thriller but much of it was told through semi-disjointed thoughts and flashes of childhood memories.

Jenny disappeared when she was six years old. Twelve years later she returns, but all is not what it should be. So one, or perhaps everyone, is lying. The question is why?

I guessed at the ending part way through but that didn’t in any way detract from the story. It turns out I was partly correct, but the story hinges on ‘why’ the characters behaved in the ways they did, not just on ‘what’ they did.

At the heart of the story is a tale of abuse. Jenny tells of her treatment at the hands of her captors in a very matter of fact way. It is not glorified, but that somehow makes it even worse. The way in which she recounts what happened to her is perhaps worse, as if it has come to be expected.

Don’t start reading this unless you’ve got a few hours to spare, as once you start, you won’t want to stop.
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This is the story of Jenny Kristal a six-year-old child who disappeared on her way to her friend's house just a few doors away from her home. Twelve years later she is found walking the streets close to where she once lived. Now back in the folds of the family who love her, things should be better for Jenny...but are they?

Jenny is a likeable character with a heartbreaking story that is slowly revealed. At first, she is reluctant to talk about her kidnapping, later she reveals details which don't seem to add up. This book differs from other missing children storylines because in this case, you feel from the start that Jenny's ordeal is far from over.

Safe is an uncomfortable read due to the child abuse content, however, the story is gripping with plenty of twists and turns. This is a powerful thriller that is tense, thought-provoking but also heartwrenching and raw.
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Fast paced thriller which hooks you in right away! You will not be disappointed with this one - but be warned it is very dark the plot takes you on twists and turns and will definitely have you on the edge of your seat wanting to read more. 

I read this over a couple of days and couldn’t believe how fast I was hooked on this book.
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I reached the end of this novel and realised I’d been holding my breath. My whole body was tense. This is a dark, thrilling, journey to the centre of that place we all imagine to be the safest: our home. 

Twelve years ago, six year old Jenny Kristal left home to play with a friend two doors away. She never arrived. Now, she’s back. Parents Jake and Laurie are pleased to have her back. They’re not asking many questions about what happened to her, just letting her settle. Yet, when her brother Ben comes home there’s a very different reaction. Ben seems to freeze when he sees her. He doesn’t try to communicate at all. As time goes on, he starts to ask questions, awkward questions. He also brings up memories of the two of them, but are they real or is he trying to catch her out? Does he suspect she’s not his sister? Is he paranoid or is he right? 

I love novels and films that subvert the missing child genre. This had shades of the series The Missing where a family are unsure if their daughter is genuinely returned. The mother is sure it’s not her daughter, whereas the father can’t see it, causing huge conflict within the family. Also on the BBC, was the series Thirteen with the incomparable Jodie Comer as a girl returned to her family after years of captivity. She faces the inevitable questions and suspicions of why didn’t see escape before and why now? How do you match up the child you’ve lost with the young woman who returns? There’s bound to be dissonance between the the version that returns and the girl you remember. The conflict of emotions much be bewildering; you’re meant to be happy and yet there’s a sense of loss for the girl you expected. How hard would it be to return and face those conflicting emotions? 

It’s so hard to write about this novel without ruining it with spoilers, but I’ll do my best not to reveal too much. In between the short, sharp, chapters full of dialogue, the author gives us glimpses of dreadful details of what this girl has endured. Whether she is Jenny or not, she has been through a terrible ordeal at the hands of people she calls Mother and Father. Sometimes it’s just a snippet of information, such as a memory brought about when looking at photographs of herself with Laurie. Into her memory comes an unwanted image of a different kind of photograph, taken by abusive parents. Other memories are longer, such as being in the black laundry cupboard for long periods. To be dragged there was terrible, but even worse was to walk yourself there knowing you were powerless. Surely now she’s safe? Between the suspicion of Ben and the girl two doors down,where Jenny was going the morning she disappeared, she feels anything but secure. Prompted by messages from someone called ‘Lorem’ she’s reminded that a little girl disappeared from this house. Is everybody in there as normal or harmless as they seem? So she starts to dig a little deeper to finds out whether this seemingly perfect and tragic family have secrets of their own. 

I was so busy following Ben’s back story: the nightmares and catatonic state he went into after his sister disappeared. Shut away in a school for traumatised children, run by the Catholic Church, he continues to have a terrifying, recurring nightmare. Is this linked to Jenny’s disappearance? Do we take it literally or is it symbolic? Then, I started to wonder about the parents too. Jake and Laurie don’t seem to even have the same doubts as their son. They seem happy to accept she’s home, never questioning or even offering to talk to her about her ordeal. They don’t seem curious at all. Are they doing this out of consideration for her feelings or are they too scared to hear what she’s gone through? The final revelations are unexpected and shocking. They come just as the reader thinks an ending has been reached, so they have even more impact. It’s tense, gripping and doesn’t shy away from portraying the darker aspects of family life. For some people, home is anywhere but safe. 

This review is going to appear on 11th June for the blog tour organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. It will then be shared to the usual places online.
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This is an absolutely thrilling read! What a plot! What twists! I was on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen when the truth was discovered,  then again when the darker secrets were uncovered,  and then the author throws out a few more twists and I was just so relieved that the truth was finally out. I was so relieved for everyone! 

I absolutely loved the protagonist. To have had such an awful life,  and then to get thrown in at such a deep end when all she wanted was a sense of normality and belonging- it was just so sad what she went through before and including the nightmare she found herself in. 

The writing here is top notch. The pace is perfect. The characters are believable and feel real - even those who only appear in short bursts. The tension is palpable and keeps building. The story is compelling  intriguing, shocking, disturbing, amazing and so well done that it feels like I've just watched a movie instead of read a book. And I love that - when I can immerse myself in a book so deeply that it plays out in my mind, that's when I know I'm reading something great.

I can't wait to see other people's reactions to this when it's published. I know it's one I'll definitely read again, recommend and that will stick with me as a great read.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review 


*this part is not going on my goodreads review  but I noticed that at one stage Ben's middle name is Horace, but when they go through the hospital files it's down as Joseph. Also, it wasn't formatted very well, with numbers st the end of every line - I didn't have much trouble with this, because I read a Bible with end of line references, but it may cause problems for some readers. Perhaps something to think about for review copies in future?
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I read Safe over a few days. Initially I wasn’t loving it as I found the format hard to read and as other reviewers have stated there are a lot of characters which can lead to some confusion. However I am glad I stick with it as the plot quickly gathered pace along with some twists and turns thrown in to keep you intrigued. Overall I would rate this 3.5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley, Random House UK Cornerstone and the author for the chance to review.
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From the first page of this book, I was gripped to the narrative and the writing style. Safe is a dark, twisty novel, and it pulls you in deep into the story, you won’t want to stop reading until you have found out the truth. 

The pace in this book rockets along. In the opening chapters, a young woman turns up in what was once her hometown and goes to the police station. She believes she is a girl who vanished from the town in 2007, who hasn’t been seen since. The case sparked a massive public effort to find her when she first went missing, but now there is little evidence that a kidnapping happened in the town all these years later. When the girl’s parents meet her, they are delighted and thankful to have their daughter back. But her brother has reservations. But what is it that he knows about his sister’s disappearance that his parents don’t? Why doesn’t he believe that this woman is the sister he lost twelve years earlier? 

I was intrigued from the moment I first met the girl who claims to be the missing girl. As the police sat down to interview her, I wanted to know where she had been for the past twelve years and how she managed to escape from her kidnappers? I also wondered if they would come after her, and it seemed as though she was in constant danger. This was what I thought made this book original. Once a missing child is found, you would expect them to feel safe, for the nightmare to be over. But that isn’t the case here. 

It’s really hard to talk about this book without giving anything away. S.K. Barnett created a claustrophobic feeling as the girl becomes reacquainted with the family who lost her. But there was an eerie atmosphere as she begins to settle into her new life. I was desperate to know what was really going on here and if everything was as it seems. It was the same feeling that you sometimes get when you wonder if something is too good to be true. I knew there was a lot more to discover here. 

From quite early on in the book, I thought I had the ending worked out, and although I was partly correct, S.K. Barnett managed to throw in a final twist that I didn’t see coming. I thought the whole concept of Safe was very original, and I thought it was told really well. The author creates heart-pounding suspense and keeps you guessing as the story unfolded. 

This is definitely one of those books that will have you reading well into the night. It was a top read for me. Highly recommended.
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Fast paced thriller which hooks you in right away! You will not be disappointed with this one - but be warned it is very dark! 

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House UK for providing an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This book was the story I’ve always wanted to read, and I am utterly speechless at how much it drew me in from beginning to end! With so many dark twists, completely unpredictable outcomes and a great big handful of deceit, this book has quickly become one of my all time favourites. Just when I thought I’d cracked the case, the author threw in another curve ball and simply amazed me with her plot even more. I’ve never felt so many emotions all at once when reading and there is enough character variation, disturbing scenes and unpredictable twists to satisfy anyone who loves this genre. I can’t wait to get my hands on the paperback!
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I am afraid I have been unable to read this book.  The formatting is not good and there are numbers throughout which are off putting.  I have tried to read this but it’s too distracting.  I would be happy to read it when it has been corrected.
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This was a really good read. I was not expecting the twists. The book is well written and well thought out. I was glued the whole way through. 

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
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Safe is a tension filled page turner that has you gripped. The sensitive subjects discussed with in it are handled with care. A really engrossing read.
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