I was given a copy of Escape: Rough Hewn Book II by Nadia Kilrick for review. I really have to stop volunteering for these sorts of things. Well, ok, last week’s book wasn’t too bad, and a few weeks ago the Muses of Roma was amazingly unexpectedly good. And there have been books I read, didn’t care for, and didn’t review. But this one hit my buttons, and not in a good way.
I had an inkling all was not going to go well when I saw the cover and thought “oh, no, BDSM…” But reading the blurb, I realized that wasn’t what the book was about. I was a little dubious about the premise – abused wife with serial killer husband, but I started reading.
Look, I can live with painfully awkward writing. “Carolyn’s head burned: a burning one might have if swarmed by angry hornets. Refusing to cry or show that he’d hurt her, she started talking as though he had not just slammed his hand into her head.” I can even (sort of, and it was annoying from the beginning in this case) live with not being sure WHEN the story is set. Not in modern time, I think, but then again… the whatever-it-was the story began with seems to have been set in the 1800’s. It wasn’t a prologue, and it didn’t make much clear except that the action was supposed to be taking place some time later.
No, what really ticked me off about this book was the main character, and her supposed motivations. She’s married to a man who “Stories of his attacks on women had circulated throughout the village for years.” which has to have predated her marriage to the guy, so why did she marry him? Well, the explanation given in the book is that she was friends with his much younger sister, who disappeared, and so she married this known-to-be dangerous to women man so she could find out more about her friend’s mysterious vanishing.
Um, no… or anyway, now I’m thinking the MC is terminally stupid, and if this guy is a serial killer… Anyway. I plough on reading. The wife has fights with the husband, but makes award-winning pies for the local fair, and cans, and has a lovely little painting studio she is allowed to retreat to when she wants. Oh, and she can go visiting, although she’ll get yelled at later for it. But when a visitor comes to her home, and tells her a story, that’s when I lose it with this book.
The sister-in-law of the MC comes to tell her about the dark past she and the husband share. Now married to the husband’s brother, she was violently raped by the husband, and impregnated. She bore his child, and hid the child in the big city. Furthermore, the husband was raping the lost sister the MC married him to look for, and most likely killed her (yes, his own sister, but if you’re confused I don’t blame you, I was, too). Oops, here comes the husband… she runs out the back door, and our MC STAYS TO COOK HUBS DINNER.
I’m losing my mind. If this was a paper book it would have hit the wall, with force, but it’s on my tablet, which I like. Look, I was in a very difficult marriage. Nothing this bad, but holy heck, this MC is stupid. And the person who wrote the book knows absolutely nothing about a true abusive marriage, which is what infuriated me. I was a little worried when I started reading it that the book would trigger unpleasant memories, which would have been uncomfortable, but mostly I came out of reading the first part (and no, I didn’t finish it, and no, I don’t plan to) enraged at the portrayal of a terminally stupid woman in this situation. When I wrote Memories of the Abyss, I poured some of my own experiences into it. The memories Sarah refers to in her blog above, that result from a trauma, scars that will never go away. It was an incredibly hard thing to write, but I created the story in hopes that someone, somewhere, would discover it, and see themselves in it.
Because it’s like being in a dark room. You don’t know where you are. You don’t know where the exits are. You don’t know how you can possibly take another step, because everything hurts. Until the light comes on, and suddenly you can see your way out. It still hurts, and will for a long time, but you can see.
In this story, the MC can see, the whole time, there is no sense of despair, pain, loss of trust… there was no trust in the first place. She deliberately set herself up. It’s… I don’t even have words for how and why this made me so angry.