Book Review: The Empty Nest by Sue Watson

“It’s weird to think that outside this house other lives are continuing as they did before – whereas inside everything is on pause.”

― Sue Watson, The Empty Nest

A psychological thriller as compelling and frightening as a rollercoaster, with plenty of twists and turns. This captivating narrative of a mother's unwavering love for her kid will captivate readers who have enjoyed The Wife Between Us, The Girl Before, and Gone Girl.

Synopsis from Goodreads...

‘Sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of us, Kat. Everyone has secrets, even the people we love, the people we live with…’

Kat remembers the days when her only daughter Amy wouldn't leave her side. Amy was the baby who cried when you walked out of the room, the toddler who was too shy to speak to strangers, the small child who clung to Kat's legs in the school playground.

But now Amy is grown up, and Amy is gone – to university in a town several hours away. Kat's house – which once felt too full, too noisy, too busy – is deathly quiet, and Kat awaits the daily phone call to tell her that her beloved daughter is thriving and happy.

But one day Amy doesn’t call. Kat’s husband and friends think she is being paranoid – surely Amy is just out, having fun with her friends. But Kat knows right away that something is very wrong. Her daughter would never forget to call. She would never just disappear... After all, Amy has nothing to run from. Or does she?

My reaction to this novel...

This book has been with me for a long time, and honestly, I had forgotten about it. I suddenly came across it while looking for something to read. I enjoy psychological thrillers, similar to Gone Girl, so when I found out that this story was somewhat similar, I immediately bought it. And Sue Watson was a terrific author, so I was extremely thrilled to get it straight away, so I had a lot of hopes for this story. When I found this on my shelf, I instantly read it, even though I had first forgotten that I had acquired this sort of book much too long ago. 

The book cover is fine; it's attractive and appears well thought out. Readers will be curious what it is about, especially if they haven't read the synopsis yet. These sorts of book covers always capture my attention since they get me intrigued about the story. That's one of the reasons why I was compelled to buy this book.

I found the author's word choice in this book to be acceptable. Even inexperienced readers would be able to understand them easily. Additionally, readers wouldn't be perplexed as to who was telling the narrative. The mother of the teenager who is narrating is clearly obsessive, as I saw right away. I strongly feel her obsession and panic as a mother. To be honest, the story starts off nicely, but as it progresses, I find it to be too sluggish, and the mother's intense love for her daughter feels stifling. I understand that a parent's love is distinct, but this is unhealthy. The mother's abnormal behavior is immediately apparent, and it is obvious that she requires significant psychiatric support. Because of this, I got annoyed so many times while reading because it seemed repetitive and very slow, making it really boring to read.

This narrative contains a plethora of poorly considered twists. The story's purported twist didn't sit well with me. I would have preferred a more satisfying conclusion, and the revelation of the protagonist's secret isn't really surprising. Considering that the tale was likened to Gone Girl, one of my favorite psychological thriller novels, I had great hopes but am terribly disappointed with the story.

It seemed like all I read were moments of dread and panic, and as I went farther, that was just the extent of the story's planning. To allay suspicions, they even included the biological father, even though it was clear he wasn't at blame. The narrative would have been more interesting if the mother had been to blame, as this would have been more shocking than what actually happened. This novel lacks a thriller element in my opinion; it's more annoying than thrilling.

For me, I cannot recommend this book because it is filled with stress-inducing events and has a shallow ending. It will only frustrate readers because it keeps repeating and the conclusion is lacking. It's as if the author suddenly lost interest and didn't know how to finish the story, leaving readers irritated after all the stress they went through. I can categorically state that this book has a toxic story thus I will not be recommending it. Nevertheless, I will still read other books by Sue Watson.

My Overall Rating: ⭐(1/5)


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