Posted in Netgalley

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

I was absolutely gripped by this incredible thriller! Emma is nearing her fortieth birthday and she can’t sleep. Her insomnia is triggering anxiety about her Mum and the reappearance of her sister Phoebe isn’t helping. Both girls were taken into foster care on the night of their Mum’s fortieth birthday, when she’d had a breakdown – could the same thing be happening to Emma? Her Mum always said she had inherited the bad blood in the family. As the days pass and irritability, paranoia, fear and the hallucinations start to kick in Emma starts to wonder. Is she going mad or is someone out to ruin her life? Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get you.

This was a great read and I’ll be shouting about it until publication day. The way Emma disintegrates over the course of a few days is shocking, but believable as every relationship in her life is touched by this ‘madness’, until there’s really nothing left. Emma has always prided herself on being a competent solicitor, very organised and together. I was desperate to find out what happened in their childhood and why her sister Phoebe has popped up in her life right now. I felt there was an element of Emma not processing her childhood trauma. She’s locked it away in the back of her mind, but Phoebe’s appearance, and advice that she should visit their mother, seems like the trigger that unlocks these memories. It’s very common for people to set great store by the ages of their parents when trauma occurs – such as thinking you’ll have a heart attack before your 60th birthday because your Dad did. The worry and stress this causes can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What the author does, very cleverly, is muddy the waters; just when I was starting to think she was having a breakdown, other things start happening. Her young son keeps creating a strange macabre drawing of a terrible memory that haunts Emma. How could he know? Who has told him this happened? It can’t be anyone in the home, because they don’t know. Her dictated letters have turned into a mumbled series of numbers when her secretary plays back the dictaphone. Added to these strange and inexplicable events the author also throws in a number of stressors that would make anyone struggle with their mental health. At work she is trying to avoid the advances of a very unpleasant client, not only that but his ex-wife confronts Emma over losing custody of their boys. Emma’s tyres are slashed among other nuisance acts that start to pile up over the week, particularly affecting Emma’s job. It becomes hard for the reader to see which events can be explained away, which events are incredibly strange and what are normal daily obstacles made worse by Emma’s severe sleep deprivation. I was never fully sure what to attribute to who, what is real and what is imagined, and who is to blame?

This novel kept me on my toes right up till the end. I felt stressed and paranoid alongside Emma, and could really feel her sense of panic and powerlessness as her carefully constructed life unravels. There are some jump scares here and there that really did give me a jolt! The way the author drew me in was brilliant and I was firmly on Emma’s side, while constantly worrying that she might be an unreliable narrator after all. The ending was unexpected with final scenes that had me on the edge of my seat, glued to the action until the early hours. This really will be an addictive and thrilling film or TV series. Insomnia is a psychologically complex novel, intelligent and exciting till the last page. Pre-order your copy, because this is a cracking read.

Published byHarper Collins 31stMarch 2022.

Meet The Author.

Sarah Pinborough is a New York Times bestselling and Sunday Times Number one and Internationally bestselling author who is published in over 30 territories worldwide. Having published more than 25 novels across various genres, her recent books include Behind Her Eyes, now a smash hit Netflix limited series, Dead To Her, now in development with Amazon Studios, and 13 Minutes and The Death House in development with Compelling Pictures.

Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and also the 2010 and 2014 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella, and she has four times been short-listed for Best Novel and was shortlisted for the British Book Award for best Thriller.

Sarah lives in the historic town of Stony Stratford, the home of the Cock and Bull story, with her dog Ted.

You can follow her on Twitter @sarahpinborough


Hello, I am Hayley and I run Lotus Writing Therapy and The Lotus Readers blog. I am a counsellor, workshop facilitator and avid reader.

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