Title: Love Lies Bleeding
Author: Jess McConkey
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“To what lengths would you go to keep a past buried?
Samantha Moore is the golden girl—with a perfect job, a perfect man, a perfect life—until a random act of violence changes everything. Unconscious for two months, Sam awakens from her coma a different person—bitter, in constant pain, and forced to endure medications that leave her nauseous, paranoid, and struggling to keep a grip on reality.
Furious with her family for sending her away to a small, remote town to recuperate—placed completely under a physical therapist’s care and robbed of what little freedom she has left—Sam lashes out at the “nice people” all around her who claim to have only her best interests in mind. But are her violent outbursts the by-product of her condition . . . or something else entirely? Strange things are happening here—and either Samantha Moore is losing her mind or her friendly new neighbors are far more dangerous than they appear to be. . . .”
Thoughts: Love Lies Bleeding is one of those novels that is thoroughly enjoyable while reading but does not hold up well under close scrutiny. Its sum is definitely much better than its parts, not that this is a bad thing. Sometimes, books are made to be enjoyed as a whole and not broken down for a search for hidden meaning or symbolism. Love Lies Bleeding is definitely successful as this type of book, as it does not demand much from the reader but instead presents itself as a taut Gothic suspense novel with a strong female lead.
The most intriguing aspect of Love Lies Bleeding is the three different narrators, each with a different point of view. Two of the narrators were third person, but the third was an unknown first-person narrator. This deliberate choice on the part of McConkey not only allows the reader to learn more of the details about each of the characters but it successfully builds tension, as the reader struggles to determine who the mysterious third narrator is. While I am sure this plot device is not new, it was the first time in a long time that I noticed it and appreciated it for its effectiveness.
Unfortunately, as with any book that is better on the surface than with searches for deeper meaning, Love Lies Bleeding is somewhat predictable. While the mysterious third narrator is unknown, a careful reader will know who it is before the novel is half over. Also, events unfold in such a manner that they are not truly surprising. In addition, there are quite a few unanswered questions remaining at the close of the novel. While they do not detract from the main plot, the reader is left with a niggling sense of incompleteness as a result.
Love Lies Bleeding is a relatively short novel, which explains some of the rush in character development and lack of answers. Yet, in spite of Sam’s unrealistically quick transition from spoiled victim to independent and strong female and the unresolved questions, it is a difficult novel to stop reading. The Gothic elements compel the reader to keep reading, while the three narrators provide a more intimate glimpse into key characters. Love Lies Bleeding is a perfect, spooky mystery for a gloomy day.
Thank you Megan Traynor from William Morrow for my review copy!