Source: Review copy
Publication: 31st March 2022 from Harper Collins
My thanks to Harper Collins for an advance copy for review
In the dead of night, madness lies…
Emma can’t sleep.
CHECK THE WINDOWS
It’s been like this since her big 4-0 started getting closer.
LOCK THE DOORS
Her mother stopped sleeping just before her 40th birthday too. She went mad and did the unthinkable because of it.
LOOK IN ON THE CHILDREN
Is that what’s happening to Emma?
WHY CAN’T SHE SLEEP?
I do love the way Sarah Pinborough writes. It is pretty fast paced and always entertaining. Every time you think you know what’s going on, Pinborough will throw a curve ball at you. So it is with Insomnia.
Emma Averall is a successful divorce lawyer and mother of two. Her husband is a stay at home dad. Emma is nearing her 40th birthday and she is so not looking forward to it. Because Emma’s mother went mad on her 40yhj birthday and she and her sister Phoebe experienced some very dark times when that happened. It’s a darkness Emma does not want to dwell on, but it keeps coming back to haunt her and as the day draws nearer, her sleep patterns become more and more erratic.
This, in turn, makes her less likely to be a reliable narrator and the reader’s job is to understand what’s going on insider her head. As her insomnia grips her, so her relations understandably become more strained. Her sleeplessness is affecting her work; making her snappy with her husband and impacting on her children.
Emma’s not revealed her dark childhood to her husband, preferring to lock her experience away and she has only said that her mother is dead; a lie she has inveigled her sister into supporting.
But as the big day approaches, Emma begins to see signs of her mother’s madness in her own behaviour and it is preying on her mind and keeping her awake. Is Emma paranoid or is she in fact losing her mind?
Sarah Pinborough builds suspense really well and that feeling if intense pressure building in Emma’s mind comes through beautifully in her writing as Emma’s scratchiness becomes more and more worrying and her relationships with pretty much everyone start to deteriorate until she is second guessing herself at every turn.
This is terrific writing that draws you in and at the same time has you looking at every single character and wondering about them, too. What Pinborough does really well is to build up a really plausible scenario and give it layers and depth while creating characters each of whom seems to carry the potential for dodgy doings.
Emma is an interesting character. It is easy not to sympathise with her, because she seems to be the one who has it all. A successful career woman with a lovely house and a husband who cares for the kids and was happy to make the bargain to be the stay at home dad to enable them to enjoy the lifestyle they now have. But this kind of success comes at a price and Emma is finding it higher than she bargained for. It also makes her less of a sympathetic character and so the reader does not root for her quite as much as we might, which is incredibly interesting food for thought!
Insomnia is a really tense and unsettling read that sends little shivers down your spine and makes you question everything and everyone. It is one of those reads you fly through, wanting to understand what’s going on; thinking you know what’s behind it, only to be wrong footed at every turn.
Verdict: A really enjoyable, tense and chilling propulsive read.
Sunday Times No.1 bestseller Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed, award-winning, adult and YA author. She is also a screenwriter who has written for the BBC and has several original television projects in development.