Having very little time to read as the past couple of weeks have been very busy, the start of this book got me back into bookworm mode as I call it: The feeling you simply have to make time to read, even if your eyes are tearing up from exhaustion. (I didn’t keep it up throughout the entire book, but it got me going again.)
Jane Hughes works in an animal sanctuary and is responsible for the dogs; what is not to love about this? She’s happy with her job, her boyfriend Will is lovely and she lives in a quiet little cottage in Wales. But one day at work, there is a letter addressed to her, with the words “I know your name’s not really Jane Hughes”. Done, hooked.
What follows is a schema we only know too well at the moment: storytelling split between the present day and a time in the past. In this case, the story goes back to five years prior, when Emma – now Jane – went on holiday to Nepal with her friends.
Her stay at a resort started out as a time to relax and meditate. Within a few days, they notice odd things happening: Things which are said (or not said), secrets being revealed and mind reading going too far. The retreat is not an adventurous hotel but a cult. While some of the girls seem oblivious, Emma detects people disappearing for days, coming back with suspicious marks on their wrists and when a girl from the camp dies on her journey back from town, no one is willing to find her family to let them know.
The story of the four British girls trapped in a cult in Nepal and the death of two of them made it into the news, after which Emma changed her name to Jane and built a new life in Wales.
Jane needs to find out who is after her and why; the threats become more dangerous. While the story is interesting, the timing is questionable: The tension doesn’t build up as the outcome of each particular part of the backstory is given away. The news headline calling it a cult before I could put a name on it myself and as for the descriptions of the ongoings in Nepal, they border on trying to be shocking with physical pain and rape, when the truly powerful dialogues are based around the brainwashing of the “guests”. The talks of liberation and freeing the mind are the ones you follow along, which make you understand why someone could get lost in the words and thoughts of the founders of the camp. This is what makes you turn the pages!
The Lie, by C. L. Taylor
First published 2015