Reviewed on 22nd September 2022

Keep Her Safe by Jen Faulkner

Genre: Fiction / Psychological Thriller / Thriller
Keep Her Safe by Jen Faulkner Synopsis

A mother is gripped by fear as her daughter approaches adulthood, in this novel of attachments, anxieties, and buried secrets . . .
How far would you go to protect your daughter?
Catherine’s daughter is about to leave for university. Although she knows worrying about this is normal, she’s becoming increasingly anxious about Anya’s safety. And that anxiety is starting to take over her life . . .
She’s fallen back into a habit of going into Anya’s bedroom when she sleeps to watch her breathe, and is secretly tracking her daughter’s movements on an app.
Anya, struggling with her mum’s suffocating behaviour, hides her own anxieties about leaving home for fear of panicking her mother further.
But with Anya preparing to move out, who will check on her and keep her safe?
Do other people pose a threat or is her own mother the one she should be afraid of?

Keep Her Safe by Jen Faulkner Review

A Gripping Debut

I wasn’t really sure where to start this review when I first put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard I should say) – but the more I considered my opinions, the more I realised that I needed to say one thing first to set the tone – this book is so delicately balanced. It’s both haunting and frustrating, compelling and worrying, relatable and yet terrifying all at the same time. It is an addictive read that will at times have you feeling unsettled, but that is exactly the point. It is not a safe read, it will affect you, but for a debut novel to get so far beneath the skin is quite a skill.

Keep Her Safe is a novel that taps into the fears of almost every mother. I recognised myself in Catherine at certain points, and although she may come across as an unlikeable character (a deliberate tactic by the author, and one she carries off very well) I understood some of the thought processes she found herself spiralling into. As new mothers, we all have those moments when we peer into the cribs of our newborn baby, hoping to god that they are still breathing, gently touching their back to check the movement but trying hard not to wake a sleeping baby. We all have those fears, there is something almost primeval in our need to keep our offspring safe. But what happens when you can no longer check on the child you have spent so many years keeping safe?

About the Author: Jen Faulkner completed an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University in 2015, where she was shortlisted for the Janklow and Nesbitt Prize. Since then she has run creative writing sessions for a charity in Bristol and volunteered at Mothership Writers, a year-long programme of writing workshops for new mothers run by the novelist, Emylia Hall. She also teaches English Language to college students. When she’s not writing or teaching she enjoys karate. She is currently plotting and writing her next book, about how a shared traumatic event can affect two people in very different ways. Keep Her Safe is her debut novel.

Catherines own upbringing wasn’t easy, her father left her mother and the relationship between her and her mother was strained, but history repeats itself when her own husband Sean leaves her. When Catherine is faced to confront her past, whist clearing up her mothers house after her death, it becomes clear that some of the negative thought patterns she harbours have come from her own childhood.

As the mother of teens, I am already dreading the day that I can’t peek into their rooms to make sure they are safe. However, in my land of truth, not fiction, I realise this is just a phase all mothers have to go through. In this gripping debut, Jen Faulkner taps into those fears and when her daughter moves to university, Catherine’s anxieties, paranoia and fears reach a peak, not helped by the ailing health of her elderly father and the recent death of her mother. Daughter Anya has had enough of being tracked, followed and interrogated, but Catherine just can’t let go.

With twists and turns that keep you on your toes, we learn that not all is what it seems and some family secrets can be buried deep, but they will always come out in the end.

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Keep Her Safe is a fabulous debut, it may start as a slow burner, but the pace picks up and the intrigue remains constant. Mental health and anxiety are dealt with in a respectful and understanding manner, and although for most of the book you will find yourself not liking Catherine, come the end of the book, you certainly feel more compassion for her and her story.

Keep Her Safe is published by: Bloodhound Books
ISBN: 978-1504072700

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