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Follow You Home by Mark Edwards
What happened in Romania doesn't stay in Romania...
Daniel and Laura are on a European holiday before they go home and settle down. It's their last hurrah. But when they board a train in Romania that's when their happy holiday turns to terror and nothing will ever be the same afterwards...
The couple start chatting with another couple on the train named Alina and Ion. They suggest that Daniel and Laura take a nap in an empty compartment on the train and the couple does just that. When they wake-up the find out they've been robbed and their passports and train tickets are missing. When the boarder guards demand to see their passports and tickets and they can't produce them, they're thrown off the train in the middle of nowhere with Alina who tried to plead their case with the boarder guards.
After the the threesome starts following the tracks trying to find their way to the nearest town, Alina vanishes when she goes in the bushes to go the the bathroom. Daniel and Laura go looking for her in the forest and stumble upon a sinister looking house.
What happens in that house the couple vows to never speak of. But when they get home they realize the evil they had stumbled upon in Romania has followed them home.
It's been a long time since I've read a book I can't put down, but this book made me want to keep on reading even when I grew too tired to continue reading it. It's a good read even though some things the author tried didn't work.
The author wanted the reader to keep readers guessing just what happened in the creepy house in the woods. When they get back there's a section of the book that tries to make it seem like something supernatural was going on, but I never bought that angle for a second. For instance, when photos suddenly appear and disappear from Daniel's laptop, I just figured someone had managed to hack into his computer. It wasn't some ghost making pictures appear and disappear at will.
The author employs two types of narrators for the book. When it comes to Daniel's scenes he's the narrator, but when it comes to the other characters, Laura included, the author is narrator. I think he did that for a couple of reasons. One, he wanted the reader to emphasize and sympathize with Daniel, and it works, cause Daniel is the more likable than Laura is even though he's doing a lot of stupid things. It's almost the author wants the reader distanced from Laura the way Daniel is. He wants the reader to connect with Daniel and not with Laura. And when you get to the end, you kind of get why he wanted the reader to feel that way.
I will say the story keeps you guessing until the end. One of the ways the author succeeds in is keeping the reader guessing when the reader tries to connect what happened on the train and what happened off it. The reader never contemplates that there's actually two things going on here that intersected unexpectedly and still were throughout most of the story.
And even when you think you know the entire story of what really happened in that house in the woods, you actually don't. Daniel even admits he didn't tell the whole truth, but you really can't imagine what he could be hiding and what he left out. The truth of what really happened is revealed in the final chapters of the book.
When you find out what happened, you don't think it's as bad as the way Daniel and Laura are acting. But it isn't so much as what happened, it's what they did in response to what happened. That's what really drives the entire story.
The interesting thing is in the end Daniel thinks he knows the whole truth, himself, but he doesn't. After going through everything that happens he thinks it's all over and he's got his life back to where it was before he and Laura got on the train to Romania. But he finds something that could have his life blowing up in his face, if he figures out just what he found. And that's how the book ends. Will he find out what he found and if he does will he put all the pieces together? And what if he does put it all together. Just what will he do.
If I have one complaint about the book, it's probably the Laura character. She really comes off as the weakest link. She just seems to enjoy wallowing in her own self-pity. Daniel does quite a bit of that himself by constantly getting wasted, but at the same time he's trying to do something to help himself by seeing a therapist to find a light at the end of a tunnel. And later, he becomes proactive and tries to figure out what's really going on when he finally has enough.
Interesting enough, Alina kind of usurps Laura and emerges more as the lead female character than Laura does. She comes off more likable and she's a stronger female character than the weak Laura is. She even dispatches the super villain of the piece while Laura stands around doing nothing, per usual.
When the whole truth is finally revealed Daniel comes off better than he did throughout the novel. If he had done what he wanted to do, the whole mess might never have happened. While I was reading I kept thinking that if they had only done this, this whole mess might not be happening. So it made me like Daniel even more learning he'd wanted to do that but Laura convinced him not to do it.
In the end, this story is a cautionary tale. Don't get overly chummy with people you've just met on a train. Don't sneak into a empty compartment you haven't paid for that doesn't have a lock on the door. Don't fall asleep on a train. And if you're walking in the creepy woods at night and stumble upon a creepy looking house, don't go inside.
This book is a good read. It's made me want to check out other books by this author to see if I like them as much as I liked this book. And I definitely wouldn't mind rereading this book, again.