The Woman in the Mirror
By: Cathryn Grant
Published July 01, 2016 by D2C Perspectives
A fabulous and very dark exploration of the twisted and neurotic minds of the residents of a cliff-top bungalow.
A gripping, page-turning journey, peeling back more and more layers through tantalizing revelations of the past.
Noreen Palmer describes herself as sweet and responsible, but she can't stop lying about the things that happened in her bungalow perched on a cliff above the ocean.
When Alexandra Mallory and Jared Brady rent rooms in Noreen's precariously situated home, the danger of falling over the cliff is the least of their fears.
Noreen's escalating threats force Alex to uncover Noreen's secrets and right a terrible wrong.
Quote: “Alexandra Mallory is a hypnotic sociopath, using her elusive appeal to get what she wants, and to kill those who deserve to die.”
I chose this book on a whim, which turned out to be a good choice. A dark, contemporary tale, the twists and turns make what could be a rant on misogyny and abuse into a many-layered mystery you never quite get to the bottom of. Set on the foggy central coast of California, the house perched precariously on the edge of the crumbling cliff is almost an allegory for Alex’s character: looks beautiful and feels dangerous.
The storyline is compelling, doled out in bits and pieces. Each time you have the pieces to one puzzle, another has reared its head. Every character is a riddle you finally begin to understand as the novel progresses, even “sweet, responsible” Noreen. Behind that facade is a scary woman.
Alex is honest to the reader about her secrets, although she doles them out over the course of the novel. She is a risk-taker, and from the outset, she doesn’t hide that she thrives on the more dangerous side of life. I also felt that Jared had more secrets than he was telling.
There is no sharply defined line between good and evil in this tale. There is no black or white; you are definitely on the darker side of gray. Obsession, power, twisted logic, and retribution all play large roles in this story. Each character has a skewed sense of morality they are willing to stretch to achieve their goals.
The author’s voice is unique and the narrative flows smoothly, although the switching of POV between Alexandra and Jared is occasionally jarring. But overall, it works. I had a hard time putting the book down, reading it straight through, and staying up late to finish it.
The ending is surprising, but when you look back, it fits perfectly. I highly recommend this book to readers of dark, contemporary fiction.