Book Review: Emma in the Night

EMMA IN THE NIGHT | Wendy Walker
St. Martin’s Press | 08.08.2017
Rating: 5/5 stars


Three years ago, in the middle of the night, the Tanner sisters disappeared. The car belonging to Emma, age seventeen, was found abandoned at the beach with all of her personal effects left behind. People would have assumed she walked into the ocean that night, if her younger sister Cass, age fifteen, hadn’t also vanished from home at the same time. Despite no trace of Cass being found in Emma’s car or links to tie the two together that night, officials have always believed that wherever they went, they went together.

Am I a good mother? The best mother you could ever want?

Three years later, Cass has returned to her mother’s house without Emma. The story Cass tells of that night so long ago and the missing time between now and then, is one of kidnapping and the girls being held against their will on a mysterious island with a couple named Bill and Lucy. Cass shares that Emma was pregnant and found Bill and Lucy who had promised to give her and her child a better life. Emma was meant to vanish into the night three years ago alone, but Cass did what little sisters do and hid in her car to tag along.

No one could have done anything about this. Emma had a head of steel. She did what she wanted and no one stopped her. We all loved her for that. But it got her into trouble…right? And more than a few times.

Dr. Abby Winter, lead forensic psychologist for the original case is back to help track down Emma, along with her partner Leo. The current situation is clear, Cass is willing to share as much details as possible about the mysterious night of her disappearance, what happened with Bill and Lucy, and her daring escape. Dr. Winter pushes deeper into the life the Tanner sisters lived prior to their disappearance and uncovers a narcissistic mother at the core of their lives, who for years held them captive in a life of turmoil and drama. What really happened that night three years ago and where is Emma?

In spite of everything she did that she shouldn’t have done, and everything she didn’t do that she should have, something that felt like love was in her and she would take it out at times like this and show it to us and make us hunger for more.

EMMA IN THE NIGHT is told from alternating perspectives between Cass Tanner and Dr. Abby Winter. The sections Cass retells center around her retelling of what happened between her disappearance and now. These portions, while meticulously detailed, also feel juvenile and filled with denial. Dr. Winter’s section on the other hand give us a glimpse into her research into families centering around narcissistic mothers, something she is all too familiar with from her personal life, and the connection she believes this has with the disappearance. As the novel continues, the story escalates as the team gets closer and closer to finding Emma. This is truly an edge of your seat read with the heart-racing grand unveiling in the last few chapters of the novel!

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