Review of ‘Insomnia’ by Sarah Pinborough

This psychological thriller lives up to its name! You’ll be kept awake turning the pages. If you actually want to get some sleep, I wouldn’t recommend reading it at bedtime…

The story is narrated by Emma, a lawyer who seems like a calm, organised type. However, as her fortieth birthday approaches, her life starts to unravel. She had a traumatic childhood and thinks of her abusive mother as dead, rather than confined to a secure mental unit. Now, her sister, who she doesn’t get on with, is back on the scene. Her young son is frightened of ‘mummy’, a nightmare figure. Emma can’t sleep. She seems to be suffering from hallucinations, lost time and memory lapses. She’s reciting weird things. In fact, she’s displaying the same symptoms her mother had. What’s going on and what will happen at the end of the countdown to her birthday?

I thought this was a very intriguing novel. The characters were believable and the psychological element very well done. I guessed one of the twists early on, but the other major twist, which had a supernatural hint, certainly surprised me. I kept noticing how often wine was mentioned, something it has in common with Behind Her Eyes. Pretty much every chapter had the characters gulping wine. The other annoying thing was the cliché of a storm brewing to heighten the psychological tension and then the storm breaking during the action scene / final confrontation. It’s been done so many times, particularly in films, that it doesn’t work for me.

In summary, I recommend this thriller, which I liked more than Behind Her Eyes but not as much as Cross Her Heart.

Thank you to the publisher HarperCollins for the advance copy via NetGalley. The book will be published on 31st March.

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