This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel – Book review

Well, I very much enjoyed the twists and surprises of This Might Hurt! I knew it was a psychological thriller but not much else about it when I began reading. I devoured it rapidly one weekend, transfixed by its cunning duel timeline tale that, if I had to sum up, would do so by saying: Imagine if David Blaine started a sort of cult and then lost control of it. You’re interested, right?

Opening sentence: The gallery is the size of a high school gym.

This might hurt… are you fearless?

Our main narrator in the present day is Natalie Collins. She’s concerned about her sister, Kit who has taken herself off to Wisewood, an isolated island retreat in Boston. When Natalie gets a mysterious email from someone at Wisewood, threatening to reveal a family secret about her, she takes the first small, slightly sinister boat she can out to the island.

That’s all Wisewood is: a crumb in the middle of a savage ocean.

Natalie’s chapters are spliced with flashback ones to two sisters growing up under the watchful eye of their father with an unconventional parenting technique.

Let me also remind you I do not perform magic. Rather, I am a mentalist.

The other very intriguing character is Madame Fearless, a magician or, more accurately, a mentalist who has absolute belief in a person’s ability to become completely fearless. If a person fears nothing, they can live their best life.

The contract between performer and audience was a promise of seduction. I had them again.

Natalie, Kit and Madame Fearless’ paths cross – and the results are dramatic for all of them to say the least.

Who was a more devoted student of fearlessness than I?

I won’t say much more on the plot or Madame Fearless as I want you to be as surprised and entranced by the story as I was but, as I mentioned, reading about her, David Blaine sprung to mind. I feel I need to mention Derren Brown here too. Stephanie Wrobel is an American author, so she may not have heard of Britain’s most famous mentalist, but Madame Fearless’ performance reminded me a lot of his. He’s amazing – give this a watch if you don’t know him / want to see what he can do.

ANYWAY back to the book, This Might Hurt is so sharply written that at some points I felt genuinely anxious about what was going to happen next. More so in the flashback chapters but the tension spread through the whole read, adding to the overall tantalising, page-turning feel.

At its heart, This Might Hurt is about both sibling relationships and crafting and dictating your own story. These themes, combined with the subtle Gothic elements leant a further dimension to it that really appealed to me. Such an interesting, clever concept, I loved the whole thing, right through to the creepily brilliant ending!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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