The cover of the book The Night Village by Zoe Deleuil

Title: The Night Village
Author: Zoe Deleuil
Genre: Fiction, Crime & Mystery
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: 2021

My thriller/crime/mystery binge continues with Zoe Deleuil’s enthralling debut novel, The Night Village. Fans of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train byPaula Hawkins will devour this book in one sitting (… yes, that is what I did). Therefore, be warned! This is not a book to start reading late at night to tire yourself out after a long day. This is not a book to snuggle under the covers with. This is a book that is slightly unsettling, unsettling enough to keep me up half the night, turning the pages to find out what happens next…

Although The Night Village mentions Perth, Western Australia (shout out to my hometown!), it is set in London, England. The bleak weather and indifferent locals make London the perfect setting for this unnerving novel. The story commences with Simone giving birth to her son, Thomas, with her partner of only a year, Paul. The beginning with Simone in the hospital during active labour had me on my toes, but I got myself worked up too soon because it was only when Simone and Thomas returned to Paul’s cold apartment that the tension quickly arose with the arrival of houseguest, Rachel. As soon as Rachel walks into the story, Simone’s discomfort becomes my own. The details of Rachel trying to pull Thomas from Simone’s arms, Rachel watching Simone breastfeed Thomas with envy, and Rachel running her fingertips over that soft spot on an infant’s head had the hairs on my arms prickling.  

Despite Rachel’s status as Paul’s cousin (which is verified by Paul’s parents), Simone is wary of their relationship from the start. She never directly asks or implies anything untoward to Paul or Rachel, but her unease about their relationship is evident; however, my concern, as I read the novel, was for Thomas. Deleuil perfectly captures the vulnerability of caring for a newborn (as well as divulging aspects of post-birth that movies like to gloss over), which not only helps construct well-rounded characters with flaws but also heightens the tension. Deleuil openly explores the unrelenting responsibility of taking care of a newborn on little sleep or help, while feeling that you aren’t quite up to the task; the difficulties of motherhood and the judgement of others was also weaved into the plot, but also the kindness of strangers and mothers of all ages was incorporated. Plus, (while this is not a self-help book) there were a few nifty tips and tricks for new mothers included!

While The Night Village is labelled as a mystery, it is not a fast action-paced piece but rather a psychological whirlwind. Settle down in your comfy bed, prop The Night Village on your lap, and settle into the story…I dare you.

Underground Team

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