Book Review: Twisted River

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Twisted River is about two families, both in crisis (although not in completely different reasons) and the two wives/mothers decide to swap homes with each other to provide a much needed family vacation. One family is in Ireland and one is in New York City. Twisted River is billed as a psychological thriller for fans of “The Wicked Girls” and “The Silent Wife” and is about a vacation house swap gone terribly wrong.

Kate and Mannix O’Brien live in Limerick, Ireland. Mannix has been out of work off and on, and much of their wealth and prosperity has been lost. Kate has also recently turned down an assistant headship at her college due to pressure from Mannix. They have an autistic son and daughter and their son is being bullied at school. Overwhelmed with their son’s school issues, Kate plans a house exchange with another family looking to do the same, but in New York City.

In New York City, Hazel and Oscar Harvey are having issues of their own. They too have two children, similar in age to Kate and Mannix’s children (but do not become a major part of this story).  Hazel is wishing to have an escape from the prying and knowing eyes of those close to them, as Oscar is a terribly abusive husband. Hazel is wishing to return to her home in Ireland for a chance to leave New York for a much needed break.

Tragedy hits, and I won’t tell you the where, the why or to whom, but it has all to do with this house swap gone terribly wrong.

While I have not read The Silent Wife, I have read Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train (GOTT), so one could assume Twisted River to be quite similar in plot expectation to these other notable psychological thriller style reads. I very much enjoyed The Girl on the Train and contribute its success to the originality and freshness of its plot. With that being said then, and having read Gone Girl, GOTT and even Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects, I went into Twisted River with every preconceived notion to expect those “unexpected plot twists and turns”. After all, it is marketed to be that style of read. And, while there were many intense moments with fast-paced reading, overall, this is a flawed, too often clichéd and already-been-done kind of read. Twisted River did build up steam all along the way, and it was a good page-turner, however, when it reached its end, it fizzled substantially with its abrupt and very loosely threaded ending. Major plot points that were built up throughout, fell off and disappeared without a trace.

As well, the overtly clichéd archetypes of the obsessive, selfish, abusive, jealous and controlling male were at play for both husbands. The terribly clichéd archetype of the highly intelligent and successful woman that trades it all in and dismisses her success and her career (along with her common sense and intelligence), to remain with the obsessive, abusive, jealous and controlling man was also the case for both women in this story.  Unfortunately too, there was the addition of another horribly unoriginal female character portrayed as the pathetically obsessive and jaded “other woman”. Therefore, very difficult for me to get behind any of these characters.

At its end and finale, I felt it left a great too many loose plot points to unravel and spin out in the air. The ending was abrupt and a bit of a let down – a kind of a “that’s it?” “that’s the end? But what about this? and this?”  There was no true end tying down these twists, and truly, they weren’t too twisty after all. I didn’t find it to be a bad read, but overall it was fairly unoriginal and filled with too many stereotyped characters. It appears however that once again I am in the minority with my opinion and rating. Twisted River is quite highly rated on Goodreads.

I do thank Penguin Books for allowing me the opportunity to read Twisted River, sadly it did not turn out to be the best read for me at this time.

Literary Hoarders Penny