ARC Reviews, Reviews

The Lucky One

From the acclaimed author of Under A Dark Sky comes an unforgettable, chilling novel about a young woman who recognizes the man who kidnapped her as a child, setting off a search for justice, and into danger.

As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.

Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.

Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.

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I’m a sucker for a good kidnapping tale.  But this was the first book I’ve tackled where the kidnapping is all in the past.  Everything is about what happens years and years after the fact.  We meet our victim as an adult, still struggling with the trauma of an event that she can barely remember.  Alice is flawed and complex, which I found made her a more believable character that readers truly care about. You *want* to know what happened to her, you *feel* her pain and heartbreak.  It’s so easy to take her side and see everything in the black-and-white that she does. That is, until we meet our second main character, Merrily.  Even though Merrily and Alice live in the same city, they are a world apart.  Merrily’s traumas are more relatable to the average reader- stressing about an overbearing mother and struggling to pay the bills. The bottom begins to fall out of her world, and everything she thought she knew slowly changes. There isn’t some big reveal that sends her life spiraling; instead it slowly falls away piece by piece, lie by lie. Like Alice, Merrily is a character that is imperfect and accessible, bringing the reader to truly care about everything happening to and around her.

I liked the way the author tackled the dual-narrative as a plot device.  Something that I found worked really well is that Alice and Merrily don’t really interact with each other much.  We see two very different versions of a story that are moving along two different timelines.  They interact with different secondary characters very differently, learn information in varying times and in completely different ways.  I really like the experience this created for me as I was trying to solve the various mysteries along with the characters (and no, I wasn’t even close!)

All that being said, the pacing was a little off for me.  It made it hard to sit and devour the book all at once as I prefer to do.  The plot felt very hot and cold, moving quickly at some places then stuttering to a crawl for several chapters.  Some clues are delicately crafted, while others are just suddenly dumped on the reader with little explanation.  There were a few places where I felt like I needed to back up and reread paragraphs looking for something I thought that I missed.

Overall, I am really glad I finished The Lucky One.  It’s a tense, dark mystery whose twists and turns will keep you guessing all the way to the final pages.  And it will be up to you to decide- is the titular lucky one really so lucky after all?

See you all at the weekend!

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