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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

While You Slept, RJ Parker: A Review

Reading the blurb of this book gave me some serious Pretty Little Liars: Extreme Edition vibes. For brevity's sake, I'll stick with the TV version, and one of the best parts of that series was when the girls woke up in exact replicas of their bedrooms somewhere underground in captivity. The premise of While You Slept reminded me of that, but with higher stakes and real-world consequences.

Lily's smart and cautious, especially following the separation from her abusive husband. She won't risk her five year old daughter, Maisie's, life. When a man wearing a Maisie mask is recorded standing in her garden, she's on edge and determined to be more vigilant. The next morning, however, she wakes up in her room, only to realize it's not her room. Somebody has kidnapped them, built a fortress by studying their buying habits, family heirlooms, and photos, and trapped them inside. With no explanation or guarantee of release, Lily has to figure a way out of their fake home before it's too late. Right off the bat, the concept of this book terrified me. Outlandish, sure. The extent someone would have to go to in order to pull something like this off would require utter obsession and delusion. The risk felt all the more real as a five year old child was also in danger, and she's not above their captor's punishments. I found this to be the most traumatizing aspect and found myself comparing to other mother in desperate times seeking strength and redemption narratives; Enough is the one that came to mind most often. As I continued reading, I was curious how the rationale would be revealed. After a few harried interactions, things seemed to snowball quickly, and the final events felt a little rushed. I would've liked there to be more of a twist, because the reveal seemed to come out of left field. I thought it was exciting and wrought with the ferocity of a mother's love, but ultimately, I wanted to feel more of a connection between the captor and Lily, and that missed the mark for me a bit. I also thought Maisie read older than five, but I loved her character, so I was willing to forgive some of her MacGuyver tendencies. Overall, While You Slept is an unnerving, psychologically suspenseful read. I'd recommend this to anyone who loves a good redemption story, mother/daughter thrillers, or domestic suspense lovers. Thank you to Harper Collins UK (One More Chapter) and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.


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