Book Review: The Safe Place by Anna Downes

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 202...

PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge Prompt: N/A

Other PS 2020 reading prompts this would satisfy: A book that's published in 2020, A book that passes the Bechdel test, A book with a three-word title

TW: Vivid depictions of self harm, other triggers that are part of the plot so I don't want to ruin the book. 

I feel like it's going to be kind of difficult to review The Safe Place without any spoilers, so this review will likely be very vague. There's a lot going on within this book and it gets pretty twisty-turny, so I definitely don't want to reveal anything.

Emily Proudman is kind of a mess - she's a aspiring actress who can hardly get a gig, and her aspirations always make her late to her actual temp job, so she gets fired. Her parents and her aren't what you'd call close. So needless to say, things are tough. Enter Scott Denny, a rich guy who needs someone to be a bit of a housekeeper at his second home in France, someone to spend time with his wife and sickly daughter, since he's always in London for work. Fortunately, Emily fits to bill. In fact, she perfect - no job, no money, few ties. And the house is basically a mansion, waterside, secluded - everything she could ever want. But the seclusion is a bit intense, and there's no cell service, and a weird set of rules. What exactly has she gotten herself into, and will she be able to get out?

The Safe Place is twisty and suspenseful. In fact, it's much more suspenseful and mysterious than thriller (as it's marketed). One of my first impressions of this book was the kind of vividly graphic self harm that happens through the book quite a few times. Graphic enough that I could feel it and it made me cringe. And I went into those scenes with no warning, so I highly recommend if that's a trigger for you - do not read this book. So, that was definitely one of my big issues with the story. I can deal with gore and graphic scenes, and I guess I can see how it fit with the character and their story, but it also felt unnecessary and sensational, which really bothered me. I don't enjoy problematic scenarios being used for shock value, and it felt like that's what was going on. It definitely wasn't something that added to the story or was ever really discussed.

Besides those graphic depictions, the story was quite a slow burn, which was fine but was also just really slow, as in slower than I'd ever expected. I wanted things to happen that would really pull me in and instead I often found myself being really bored. I also found the flirtatiousness and weird romance to be another piece of the book that didn't really add to the storyline.

I did like, however, the final outcome of the book. I was worried it may go in a different direction, would honestly would have left me pissed. Instead it seemed like the best ending to actually wrap up the story, but that's where things really sped up in comparison to the rest of the book, and I wish the ending could have been better developed and delivered. I needed more to happen, and I just finished the story really feeling disappointed. The novel just had really weird highs and lows in terms of speed.

"If you wait around for other people to approve your decisions, you'll be waiting a long time. Approve them yourself. Be proud of yourself." - The Safe Place, Anna Downes

For me, this was another book that used sensationalism to try and tell a story and ended up falling a bit flat and problematic. The book had potential, but was really delivered in a way that didn't make the most sense.

Goodreads rating: ★★★☆☆

*Thanks to Netgalley for the digital review copy. All opinions are entirely my own.

You Might Also Like