Title: Sweet Heart
Author: Peter James
Synopsis: (Back of book)
Charley has a strange feeling when she sees the idyllic mill house with its cluster of outbuildings, the lake and the swirling mill stream; a powerful sense of recognition, as if she has been there before. Except she knows she hasn’t.
After Charley and her husband Tom move into Elmwood Mill, sinister memories of a previous existence start to haunt her. Despite both their attempts to dismiss everything with rational explanations, the feeling turns to certainty as the memories become increasingly vivid and terrifying. Charley is persuaded to undergo hypnosis – but in searching deep into her past, she unwittingly opens a Pandora’s box of evil… and now the terror is free.
I picked this book up unsure really what to expect. I had never heard of Peter James but the synopsis at the back was worth giving it a chance, and considering the choice of books on the sale table at Books Galore, I figured I might as well grab something along my line of genres.
I read the first chapter twice. Not because it was that good but because I was really trying to get into the book, as the first chapter is the make or break chapter. It paints the setting of where the story takes place fairly well and it is only later on in the book that you piece that first chapter to the rest of the tale. In retrospect, I see how that first chapter was important to the telling of the story; like building a puzzle without a picture of the final image, and wondering how a particular set of pieces could ever fit into the overall picture.
Sweet Heart is the tale of a young couple trying to have a baby, the story told from the perspective of Charley Witney who has tried every method possible to fall pregnant, including acupuncture. So when a friend suggests Regressive Hypnosis, proposing that perhaps something in Charley’s previous life might be attributing to her inability to fall pregnant, Charley skeptically agrees to it. However, her session taps into a dark past that threatens to engulf her in its revelations.
Personally, I found this book to be more and more fitting for a movie than a book. The little jumps and scares seem better suited for a visual scenario than one you read, however Peter James still manages to do a great job of engaging the imagination, tugging at the emotions and drawing out the anxiety by how he builds up the scenes. You get a real sense of who Charley is and her struggles as she tries to uncover her past and the evil threatening her.
The story is well written, well rounded in terms of characters, setting and the story itself. It can be a bit graphic as it delves into a couple of sexual situations, and with any sort of moments in these thrillers it has that added bit of graphic violence. Seeing the darkness slowly take over Charley becomes a fascinating part of the story and reading the novel became more about getting to those dark moments than anything else.
Overall an enjoyable book, though I am hesitant about getting another Peter James novel.
Rating: A hearty 3 out 5.