BOOK REVIEW: He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

He Said/She Said
By: Erin Kelly
Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 20 April 2017
Format: Ebook, 416 pages

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark… (Goodreads)

A novel that taught me more than I thought possible about eclipses and questionable characters, He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly took me by surprise and kept me hooked throughout.

The book begins by introducing us to couple Kit and Laura, who have always been the perfect partnership and married young, now expecting twins after a gruelling bout of IVF treatment. The pair bonded over a shared love of eclipses, with Kit being an eclipse chaser, meaning that he follows predicted eclipses all over the world. However, it was during their first eclipse together that they witnessed something that would change the course of their fledgling relationship forever, hanging over them ever since.

This particular eclipse was being celebrated as a festival at Lizard Point, with Kit and Laura witnessing the magical moment together and sharing something deep that words can’t express. It is only after the sky brightens again that Laura spots a discarded purse, following a trail of loose change until she comes across a horrifying scene. There is a man on top of a woman, her knees muddied and face pushed into the floor while he has sex with her. To Laura, there is no question that this is a rape, with the man withdrawing and trying to flee as soon as she mentions calling the police, claiming that the sex was consensual. By the time Kit appears the man is already walking off, with him trusting Laura’s word about what happened.

What follows is a drawn out rape trial, as Laura convinced the victim, Beth, to talk to the police and get justice for the violence inflicted upon her. Of course, this means both Kit and Laura are called to testify, putting them close to Beth once more. We know from the present day perspective that both now live in fear of Beth and what she is capable of, but not what occurred in the interim, questioning whether she really is an innocent victim or if there is more to this crime than meets the eye. With Laura too heavily pregnant to accompany Kit to the next eclipse, the couple are separated in the present day and both left anxious that Beth might finally make an appearance after all these years.

The plot of this book is fairly difficult to condense, as there is a lot going on in both past and present as the perspectives also switch between characters. That said, it is not confusing to read and in fact flows quite nicely, with the suspense regarding Beth maintaining a gripping edge that keeps you reading on to try and decipher the truth. It is not clear cut on who to trust or what has really happened, with the uncertainty being what makes this book such an intriguing read. Even with all these doubts flying around I was still shocked by the conclusion, with the author saving a good twist ‘til last that shouldn’t leave you disappointed.

In terms of the characters, Laura has strong opinions on right and wrong and is determined to bring Beth’s attacker to justice, even if it means blurring the lines of courtroom proceedings just a little. She is adamant that she knows what she saw and won’t be swayed, finding it hard to believe that Beth poses such a threat to her and Kit. In the present day we can see what effect everything has had upon Laura, as she suffers from anxiety that can leave her scared to be alone and subconsciously itching her wrists raw. She relies on Kit for comfort but at the same time their relationship has become strained by both the pressure of Beth reappearing and the IVF.

Kit feels the same way, as the IVF has drained them both and he is hoping that their marriage will get back to normal once the twins arrive. He is fiercely protective of Laura and hates to leave her alone, but is not as paranoid about Beth finding them as Laura seems to be. If anything, he thinks Beth will come for him at the eclipse viewing, with Laura being safe at home. I thought it was always quite difficult to know how Kit was feeling as he was socially awkward and aloof, not knowing how to cope with difficult and emotional circumstances. His coping mechanism is to close down, with only Laura knowing how to get through to him, and even she gets exasperated with his distance and apparent inability to stand up for something.

As the plot progresses and we are introduced to Beth and learn what really happened, the suspense intensifies and I was keen to know what would happen if they came across Beth again and how much truth was in any of the allegations made. With the multiple perspectives it grows more difficult to know who to trust and what lies are waiting to be uncovered, with the conclusion taking me by surprise and giving a worthwhile ending that wraps up every loose end. I also found that I enjoyed learning about eclipse chasing, and thought this leant the book a unique edge that I hadn’t seen before.

A thriller all about experiencing different sides of the same story and working out who is really telling the truth, this book will leave you questioning what you think you know about the rape witnessed by Laura and Kit. There are some gripping plot twists and I hadn’t anticipated the conclusion, with this book keeping you hooked throughout and desperate to know what will happen next. The added details about eclipse chasing gave the book a unique angle, and might just teach you something new along the way.




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