Nov. 1, 2020
The Woman Outside My Door
reviewed by Pam Guynn
The Woman Outside My Door is a psychological thriller and debut novel for Rachel Ryan. From the first page to the dramatic ending, I couldn’t stop reading this unforgettable story.
When our protagonist, Georgina, finds that her seven-year-old son, Cody, is in possession of chocolate, she’s surprised to learn that an unknown person named “New Granny” gave it to him. Then Georgina finds Cody talking on the phone. Is it New Granny or a school mate? Bren, her husband, thinks it’s just a game; something to help Cody deal with the grief of recently losing his grandmother. Georgina, however, isn’t sure. What’s real and what’s imagination? Is Cody in danger? Bren starts to question Georgina’s behavior and thinks she is being irrational. Is Georgina being paranoid? Is she having an emotional breakdown?
Georgina is a flawed protagonist who lacks confidence and has trouble communicating with her family. Her goals are clear and her motivations believable, and her character comes off as realistic in the sense that she’s struggling with work-life balance and wants to protect her child. Many of the secondary characters enhance the story, but aren’t always likeable.
The internal and external conflicts arise out of characterization and circumstance rather than feeling contrived or forced. The stakes are extremely high and so is the tension, making this a page-turner. There are a couple of plot twists that are both believable and unexpected.
One downside is that the premise did not totally avoid clichés around the relationship between Georgina and Bren. Also, the revelations in the last part of the book would have benefited from a little more development. Themes include child safety, family dynamics, infidelity, secrets, lack of communication, mental health, stress, grief and much more.
The Bottom Line: Overall, this is a suspenseful, chilling, unsettling, and creepy thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It has a good pace from scene to scene and a dramatic ending that caught me by surprise. What an amazing debut novel! I’m looking forward to what Ryan puts out next. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, then I recommend you check out this one.
Thanks to Gallery Books and Rachel Ryan for a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for January 05, 2021