Friday, January 13, 2017

Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry
Rise Press: 1/17/17
Ebook review copy: 260 pages
ISBN-13: 9781541034952

Phantom Limb by Lucinda Berry is a very highly recommended psychological thriller, with a focus on the psychological.

Elizabeth has overcome a tragic childhood. Elizabeth and her twin sister Emily were abused, neglected children who were rescued and taken away from their nightmare of an excuse for a mother and adopted by Bob and Dalila Rooth. The psychological damage had already been done, however, and the two girls clung to each other. Now a young adult in college, Elizabeth is becoming worn out caring for her still-wounded and damaged sister Emily. Elizabeth has a boyfriend, Thomas, that she'd like to introduce to her sister, but she is unsure that Emily is well enough to handle the news. Emily struggles with the urge to self-injury, along with giving in to her own internal personal suffering and depression.

Elizabeth decides to talk to her childhood therapist, Lisa, about introducing Thomas to Emily. Although talking to Lisa is a comfortable experience, something seems a bit amiss in their meeting, but Elizabeth plans to have more sessions with her. She is also determined to have Thomas meet Emily, but Emily reacts badly. When Emily seeks out Thomas and warns him to stay away from Elizabeth, the two sisters have a huge fight and Elizabeth sleeps on the coach. When she wakes up, she finds Emily in the bathroom, with pills and blood... That is all Elizabeth remembers when she wakes up a week later in the hospital and is moved to the psychiatric unit. What happened?

This is a gripping, well written thriller that explores the psychology behind what happened to Elizabeth. As a character driven drama, you could almost call it a psychological procedural, as Elizabeth works through what happened and facts are slowly revealed. The actual psychology behind the emerging secrets is a pleasure to see in a work of fiction. There are a couple shocking twists. The first might be guessed by astute readers of psychological dramas. The second twist you won't likely see coming until it is revealed.

I enjoyed Phantom Limb a great deal and was initially going to give it my highest possible rating, but then, suddenly, a fact hit my brain and I had to go down at least 1/2 a star. (I actually consulted with someone about my question to confirm that I was right.) I can't discuss openly any of it or I'll ruin the book, and I'm not giving any spoilers. For most readers my one concern won't matter an iota. This is an engrossing thriller and it will hold your rapt attention from beginning to end. 

Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of Heather Harrison at Rise Press.

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