Book Review: White Bodies

WHITE BODIES | Jane Robins
09.19.2017 | Touchstone
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Felix and Tilda seem like the perfect couple, a financier and fresh-faced actress, hopelessly in love with each other. When the curtains are drawn and their alone together, the perfect façade breaks and reveals an oddity and violent passion lurking at the heart of the relationship. Felix seems to be obsessed with cleanliness, going as far as cling wrapping the dishes. Tilda appears to be disappearing both professionally and physically. The only person seemingly aware of Felix’s controlling hold on Tilda is her twin sister, Callie, who watches and wishes to help her sister escape.

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All I have is the odd strap of information and the patchy impressions of the bystanders, and it’s like I’m at the theater, looking at the stage and seeing only the supporting cast, the scenery and the arrangement of shadows. All the important elements are missing. There are no principal actors, no stage directions and no script.

Callie has always been the behind-the-scenes sister, the one who watches as Tilda takes the limelight. Since childhood Callie has had an intense obsession with her twin, often going to extremes to feel close to her. Worried that she will lose her sister to this violent man, Callie turns her attentions to the internet and finds a support group for victims of abuse and their friends. On this site Callie meets two women who attempt to help her save Tilda. Callie’s behavior becomes intense when she is with Tilda and Felix as she desperately attempts to intervene, but ends up being pushed further and further out of their lives. As life around Callie spirals out of control and Felix is mysteriously found dead, she must determine what is fact and what is fiction.

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Her eyes meet mine and she’s blinking slowly, looking startled and empty. There’s something insect-like in the way she is folded into herself in the corner, something maimed. I’m about to screech with concern but she changes her expression, so swiftly that it’s like a magic trick, and she’s laughing and telling us to get into the boat before we freeze to death.

Jane Robbins creates an amazing work of suspense, intrigue, and family relationship in WHITE BODIES. The relationship between Callie and Tilda forms the heart of the novel, leaving the reader to judge who needs who more. Callie verges on the edge of crazy with her obsession for Tilda, often leading her to engage in bizarre activities to feel as close as possible to her. Tilda isn’t far from the crazy line with her intense and dramatic behavior throughout her life. These traits both strengthen and harm the relationship between these twins.

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I can’t work out whether he’s a truly amazing person – organizing surprise holidays and improving her flat – or a deeply dangerous one. Either way, Tilda’s infatuated with him and I’m in pain.

Robbins’ homage to Stranger on a Train builds a stage for a brilliant reveal at the end of WHITE BODIES. While I had suspicions along the way, because let’s be serious, these characters are a bit off key, I was left in shock and awe with the ending. My emotions went on a roller coaster of frustration, pity, and downright repulsion as I flew through the short chapters. WHITE BODIES is a book any reader will find hard to put down as you can’t help wanting to know what happens next and just how far someone will go to do what they believe is right.

This jaw-dropping novel is also a part of the #creepyreads buddy read on Instagram, so be sure to head there and check out my posts and those of the other lovely people participating!  

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