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February 24, 2021

Behind Her Eyes: Book and Netflix Series Review

by Alison DeLuca


Gone Girl spawned a new genre a few years ago. Psychological thriller novels sought to gaslight readers by making us wonder who did the murder, usually by twisting the main character's vision with drugs, alcohol, and an unsuitable friend. After reading three or four such books, I could usually foretell the ending and gave up on those Unreliable Narrator books.

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However, Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough drew me in from the start. Its main character is Louise, a charming single mum who drinks too much and is attracted to David, her boss. When she meets David's wife, Adele, Louise is drawn into the strange world of David and Adele's marriage.

cover of psychological thriller novel Behind Her Eyes
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As things heat up between Louise and David, she also develops a growing friendship with his wife. As a result, Louise discovers a dark side of the guy she just can't seem to stay away from. It's a weird triangle, a strange and perverted threesome. All of this sounds like a Gone Girl/Girl on the Train imitation, served up with the usual glasses of wine, psychotropic drugs, and London coffeehouses. 

But there's a fascinating backstory that grabbed me and wouldn't let go, all about Adele's stint in a psychiatric facility. There she meets a former addict called Robbie - and that is where the book becomes something truly original. 

Behind Her Eyes has its flaws. The novel relies on a series of coincidences as well as some Deus Ex Machina, relying on lucid dreams and astral projection of all things. Still, Pinborough manages those plot points handily enough, skipping between Adele's and Louise's perspectives as the tension develops.

There is certainly tension to spare. We realize quickly that something terrifying went down at that psychiatric facility, and that one of the characters is responsible. 

It's at this point that Pinborough's gaslighting hits genius level. She makes us think one character is at fault, one is an abused victim, and the third is a catalyst drawn into a very nasty mess.

As for the ending, it might be the most genius take on the psych-thriller that I've ever read. I'll just say that when I realized what actually happened, the entire novel changed in retrospect, like rewatching The Sixth Sense after discovering the twist. 


Publicity shot from Netflix series Behind Her Eyes

Behind Her Eyes has become a Netflix series, which I highly recommend. The cast is phenomenal, especially Eve Hewson as Adele and Simona Brown as Louise, while Tom Bateman plays an attractive David. The settings are lovely, and the book comes to life in a very watchable 6-part limited series.

I recommend reading the novel first. Knowing the twist doesn't make the series any less enjoyable, and it helps to navigate the murky 'what's happening now' waters. If you enjoyed Girl on a Train and Gone, Girl, Behind Her Eyes is a fascinating new take on that genre.


Alison DeLuca is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.


Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. You can find her at http://bit.ly/ADeLucaAC 


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2 comments:

  1. I have been on the fence about this one, but I am definitely watching now! Thanks for the recommendation!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've been on the fence as well! I may just try it. :) I really hated the book, but I'm curious to see how it plays out on screen!

    ReplyDelete

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