One Click by Andrea Mara
When Lauren takes a photo of a stranger on a beach and shares it online, she has no idea what will come of that single click.
Her daughters are surprised that she posted a photo without consent, but it’s only when she starts to get anonymous messages about the woman on the beach that she deletes the photo. It’s too little too late, and the messages escalate, prompting Lauren to confess to the woman. The woman has her own dark story, one that might explain the messages, but Lauren isn’t convinced. Then her ex-husband begins to harass her, telling her she shares too much online and brought this on herself.
She’s also dealing with other problems. A difficult client at work starts to show up in places he shouldn’t be. Her younger daughter is behaving out of character and Lauren can’t work out what’s wrong. And the cracks are literally beginning to show in her old South Dublin house, mirroring the cracks in her carefully curated life.
Meanwhile, the messages from the internet troll become more personal and more vindictive. Her friends feel she should stand up to her stalker, but Lauren isn’t so sure. And then she makes one small mistake that brings everything tumbling down.
‘If I’d known what would happen to all of us, I would never have taken the picture’
‘One small motion. Just one click’ – Lauren
The novel opens in Venice, Italy with Lauren on holiday with teen daughters Rebecca and Ava. Lauren is over-coming the recent separation from her husband and end of her marriage. She notices a young woman, who appears so ‘care-free’. The young woman is in her 20s and Lauren instantly feels slightly envious of the young woman’s future. She takes a quick and innocent snap for her Instagram, titled #HowISpentMyTwenties. Which she shares to her social media accounts. Gathering Lauren immediate attention, likes, shares and comments.
However, it is only when Lauren begins receiving abusive messages that she realises her error. The messages from @vin_HO_rus are at first blocked, but her troll is persistent in his/her continual attacks on Lauren. The person wants information regarding the mysterious woman in the picture. Information Lauren can’t/won’t share.
Later on, Lauren meets with the stranger in the photo, Cleo Holloway. She also lives in Ireland, although she is American by birth. Lauren confesses all to Cleo and apologises profusely. Cleo is nonchalant about the whole situation. Telling Lauren to simply ignore the troll. The continue their brief chat and do exchange numbers. But both agree to not let the troll spoil the remainder of their holiday.
‘I’m half hoping it’s over and I’ll never see Cleo again’ – Lauren
Lauren returns to Ireland and the troll messages continue. The troll becomes more and more personal in his/her approach and Lauren begins to fear for her safety and that of her two teen daughters. This leads Lauren to make a call to Cleo. . . .
Upon speaking to Cleo, we the reader learn her backstory! It is mind-blowing. We learn why she is in Ireland. Why she lives a sheltered existence and why the troll may be targeting her personally. When I read this part of the novel it was one, of them huge twist moments. Where you think to yourself ‘Oh no you didn’t!’. The author has cleverly weaved in a backstory and narrative that I never saw coming and one that firmly glued me to the pages!
Aside from the usual social media drama, Lauren is also still dealing from the fall-out with her ex-husband Dave and her teens who are moody and obviously blame their mother. I felt quite sorry for Lauren. But she is a strong and feisty woman. She is a counselling psychologist by profession and used to dealing with some suspect behaviour in her clients. Especially a recent client named Jonathan, who borders on the obsessive with Lauren and enjoys the power it grants over her. Despite all of this, Lauren attempts to but a brave face on and deal with her present circumstances.
‘The Tweets mean nothing unless I give them power – I just need to keep ignoring’ – Lauren
The whole psychological/thriller situation is ramped up, page after page. Lauren, Cleo and Jonathan all make for fantastic reading. I was absolutely hooked! I read this novel in one sitting. I found the characters really got into my head, much like the trolling got into Lauren’s.
‘He doesn’t need to break into my house, I let him in through my phone’ – Lauren
My initial thoughts may have been ‘not another social media thriller’. But this is so much more than that. It is cleverly plotted, to perfection and I was absolutely gripped by the storyline.
At the bottom of my notes it reads, Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant!
*I am also super excited as I have Andrea’s debut novel sat on my kindle tbr pile, waiting to be devoured. Here it is*
The other Side Of The Wall by Andrea Mara
When Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour’s garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door.
Wondering if night feeds and sleep deprivation are getting to her, she hurriedly retreats. Besides, the fact that a local child has gone missing must be preying on her mind. Then, a week later, she hears the sound of a man crying through her bedroom wall.
The man living next door, Sam, has recently moved in. His wife and children are away for the summer and he joins them at weekends. Sylvia finds him friendly and helpful, yet she becomes increasingly uneasy about him.
Then Sylvia’s little daughter wakes one night, screaming that there’s a man in her room. This is followed by a series of bizarre disturbances in the house.
Sylvia’s husband insists it’s all in her mind, but she is certain it’s not – there’s something very wrong on the other side of the wall.