Judith D Collins
The Stolen Child
By: Emily Shiner
Publisher: Inkubator Books
Publication Date: 09/11/2022
My Rating: 3 Stars (ARC)
Eliza has the perfect life. Bethany wants it.
Eliza has the perfect life. A beautiful home, a hugely successful blog, a loving husband and two adorable children.
Bethany barely scrapes by in a dead-end job. Her only happiness comes from reading Eliza’s blog. Obsessed with her, she believes they’re destined to be best friends.
But Eliza doesn’t want another friend . . . especially one as pushy as Bethany. Because Eliza is hiding a family secret. One that would shatter her entire world if it was ever revealed.
Rejected and furious, Bethany starts stalking Eliza. And, as she watches her every move, Bethany discovers Eliza’s secret and threatens to expose it.
But Eliza will do whatever it takes to protect her perfect life. Even if it means getting rid of Bethany . . . forever.
The Stolen Child – the gripping psychological thriller from the best-selling author of The Secret Wife and Her Perfect Life.
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Emily Shiner's latest intense darkly comic thriller, THE STOLEN CHILD, explores a blogger influencer's secret life when an obsessive unhinged stalker fan uncovers her dark secrets and threatens to expose her.
From the Prologue, we meet Eliza (blogger/influencer) and her husband, James (doctor). They are in Canada checking on Eliza's drug addict younger sister, Camilla.
Her sister has thrown her life away on drugs. They find her passed out but alive in a nasty house with no power or plumbing with a filthy mattress on the floor. They thought about calling the police, but she knows cops do not like druggies.
Eliza had not seen her sister in years, and her guilt had led her here to hunt her down. They were both in the foster care system before they aged out, and she told herself she would stop her from spiraling out of control. This is her last attempt.
She is passed out but appears to be breathing. Then all of a sudden, they see a little blonde-haired boy in a sagging diaper sucking his thumb with a dirty stuffed animal. She did not know about a child? Where did he come from, and what is he doing here? The boy says nothing. They must get him out of this environment.
Her husband wants to call the authorities. Eliza is against it due to her background. She cannot have this little boy in the system. This boy is filthy and needs a bath. She will not put another child in the foster system.
Eliza wants to take him home with them. James is against it. Eliza kidnaps him and leaves her sister without a word. Now she must hide him away and keep him safe. (this part makes no sense)
From here, they are back home in Tennessee. There is no mention of the relationship with the little boy or character development. We jump to Eliza and her life as a blogger and influencer, posting photos and worried and excited about getting sponsors. She loves to put her daughter Penelope in the limelight of her perfectly curated life.
However, they call the little boy Knox, and he does not get to leave the house. Very unrealistic. They keep him hidden away. We hear nothing from their relationship with him except they must keep him a secret. Eliza is also unhinged, obsessive, and crazy.
What she did NOT consider. One of her stalker fans.
Meet Bethany: She sees everything. She is obsessed with Eliza and wants to be her friend. She sees a photo in the background on Instagram with a sippy cup, and she knows that her idol has only a daughter. So why is she keeping a toddler a secret? The sleuthing begins. OBSESSION.
Of course, she stalks her everywhere she goes and even shows up at her house, and the door opens, and she sees the little boy. BAM! Sorry, the secret is out. Bethany wants Eliza's perfect life.
The blackmail begins, but Bethany does not want money, she just wants to be friends. Good close friends. Meaning— they tell each other EVERYTHING!
From alternating POVs, we hear from Bethany and Eliza. Each chapter becomes more insane and unbelievable as the book progresses. Bethany is delusional, wanting to move in with the family, vacation together, shopping, and be their BFF.
On the other hand, Eliza plans how she will MURDER Bethany. She cannot have her secret exposed.
The book turns almost comical and unbelievable. Little does Eliza know that Bethany knows more than appears about her secret and has a file on her.
However, when Bethany takes off with Knox , the chase is on. (no spoilers) From here, the novel takes a rather creative, darkly funny, unexpected turn, which makes for a jaw-dropping twist and then another twist leaving you flipping the pages when you realize this is THE END. So leaving you to your thoughts.
I like the idea, but it is a short book and would have liked more character devolvement of Knox, Camilla, and Eliza and less of the crazy banter between Bethany and Eliza.
Also, you need to suspend your disbelief to enjoy this one as over the top and has that Gone Girlish ending. However, you may enjoy the wild ride if you go into it more expecting a funny, darkly sinister humor versus a gripping psychological thriller. However, it is entertaining.
Otherwise, a creative idea if it was done something like Elle Cosimano's Finlay Donovan series or Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. It could be an ongoing series which would have been fun, and then we could get more from each character.
James is a dull character with no backbone. Bethany is completely nuts, and Eliza is narcissistic and thinks of only herself. No likable characters here, but lots of laughs.
I give this 3 stars, but I enjoy NC authors, and the last book by Emily was great, so I look forward to reading more from her.
Thank you to #InkubatorBooks and #NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 3 Stars
Pub Date: Sept 11, 2022
About the Author
Emily Shiner grew up in Western North Carolina, and after going to college in Charlotte, returned to her beloved mountains to write novels that keep you up at night. She lives with her husband, daughter, two dogs, menagerie of chickens, and tens of thousands of bees. When not writing, she’s reading, hiking, or drinking copious amounts of tea while daydreaming about fall.