Book Review: Sharon Bolton’s “The Split”

In an effort to get through my rather lengthy ‘to be read’ list at the moment, I seem to be alternating between light-hearted, not-too-much-brain-power-is-required reads and – of course – thrillers. Following up from the relaxing Yours Cheerfully, I decided to dive into The Split, one that has been on my shelf for a while now. Having recently come across some good reviews on it, I thought I’d finally give it its chance. Reading it all in one weekend – I have a slow social life… – I thought this book was amazing!

The Plot…

Opening with the remote and desolate scene of Southern Georgia Antarctica, Felicity leads a quiet life on the research facility, studying glaciers for The British Antarctic Survey, all the while watching the wide expanse of the horizon for what she knows will one day follow her into view. The man she’s been running from – whom she is terrified of – and who will undoubtedly follow her to the end of the Earth. There’s no escaping Freddie. No matter how desperately she tries.

After reading the blurb, I – like most people from reading just that first paragraph – had an idea of what to expect: an abusive boyfriend or husband, a manipulative, toxic relationship and the perilously dangerous situation when a domestic abuse survivor chooses to leave their perpetrator. Well – every single assumption and expectation you can just throw out the window right away, because every time I thought I had a suspicion of the plot, the events of the past, and what lay ahead for the protagonist, I was proved way off the mark. While there were a few details I could just about predict, for the most part, I was in the dark – much like Felicity.

Suffering from large bouts of amnesia and lost time, paired with the chilling reality that something was happening to her – or rather someone… following her, watching her, sleeping in her home, rearranging her cupboards, moving her things, lurking in the shadows… Felicity’s life soon becomes a living horror film.

With a psychiatric assessment required for her profession, Felicity sees a therapist, Joe, initially careful to paint the façade of the absolute picture of normality, keen to get the sessions over and done with. However, rather unexpectedly, Felicity begins to open up, and with her, the secrets hidden in the past and in the shadows begin to open up too – Much like the icebergs she studies, there is much more to the truth than what meets the eye.  

With an intricate and winding storyline, and an impressive number of shocking plot twists, The Split was certainly a pulse-quickening, thrilling read; one which I could not put down.

The Characters…

The main protagonist – and central to the entire novel – Felicity brings a whole new meaning to the phrase multi-faceted in ways that you would only understand once you’ve read it (and I’m not gonna spoil it). Originally appearing as a typical innocent, kind-of-bland female character being stalked by a man, once more Felicity’s character resembles that of ‘the tip of an iceberg’ – there is so much more to her. Throughout the story and the slow unravelling of the truth, her character forms and evolves – the reader embarks on a journey of thinking they know her, realising they know nothing about her – maybe even questioning their trust of her character and narration – before finally discovering everything about her.

Volunteering to counsel the homeless, caring too much about his patients, and instantly invested in Felicity’s unique circumstances, Joe the therapist is an equally interesting character to follow. With a rather uncomfortable history with one of his patients that ended in violence, along with a Mother in law-enforcement working on the murders of homeless people in the area, his narration is incredibly engaging, particularly as he peels back the layers on the twisting, menacing truth – for every sub-plot laced into this book.

Would I recommend?

Absolutely! With themes of mental illness and psychology, along with a heavily detailed and well-thought-out plot, this was a really exciting and compelling read, with surprises at every turn. If you love thrillers, you’ll love this. And if you don’t like thrillers, this might be the one to turn you!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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