Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (published by HarperCollins)
This psychological thriller really packs a punch! The agoraphobic Anna Fox lives as a recluse in her New York City home, never venturing outside. Her only entertainment includes watching old black-and-white movies and watching – and sometimes photographing – her neighbours. When she sees something horrific through the window of her newly-moved-in neighbours’ home, her world begins to crumble.
Anna is a complex character and I enjoyed slowly learning about her history and what happened to spark her crippling anxiety disorder. She seems odd but sane. She helps others on an agoraphobia online forum for sufferers, she’s learning French online. But then as she meets the new neighbours, as we see her interactions with others and as we understand her relationships with the few people in her life, you can tell there’s something not quite right about her.
I’m usually one of those people who always guesses the twists. It takes a lot to surprise me and this book surprised me not once, but twice! So, kudos to the author. I did not see the first twist coming AT ALL. I had to put the book down for a moment and say, “Whoah” out loud and catch my breath.
The second, lesser twist I guessed, but the third twist was also a slap in the face for me! I enjoyed the mounting tension and then the atmospheric fight scene at the end. I thought the pacing was excellent and I raced through the pages.
This book didn’t score a five because the opening few chapters were particularly slow for me, to the point that I almost gave up. I also found the writing style to be WEIRD. Way too many colons, semi-colons and dashes that made my reading experience stop-start, jerky, disjointed and just plain odd. Also, some of the imagery was just bizarre. It reminded me of The Girls by Emma Cline with its slightly nonsensical metaphors and similes and trying-to-be-clever verb usage. Each time I came across a strange image it completely broke my reading flow as I had to stop to think about it, which was annoying.
Here’s a couple of gems:
· “He begins to stand; Punch pours himself down his leg, pooling beneath the coffee table.” Punch is Anna’s cat. How does a cat pour and pool like liquid?
· “Strong teeth bolting from strong gums.” Saaaay whaaat? ‘Bolting’ to me means to run away or to fasten or to eat something quickly, none of which make sense!
· “My robe is smeared across the floor like a skid mark.” Urgh, really? LOL.
· “Teeth like a picket fence after a hurricane.” Anna is describing a small (and we assume happy) child’s gappy smile. This image makes it sound like the child’s teeth have been smashed in, broken to pieces and brutally ravaged!
A great read for those who enjoy getting inside the heads of other people, who love unreliable narrators and didn’t-see-them-coming twists. It’s a fast-paced novel and if you love old black-and-white movies, then you’ll ‘get’ all the references. I don’t watch old movies, so these constant mentions washed over me, but thankfully they weren’t annoying and were also provided within context.
My rating: 4/5
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