WHILE YOU SLEEP by Stephanie Merritt Review

While You Sleep - Stephanie Merritt

“Even in sunshine there was a bleakness to the island’s beauty that had whispered to her.”

While You Sleep is a book dripping in beautifully written atmosphere and eerie goings-on and features a protagonist who isn’t entirely reliable or likable. 

Zoe arrives at a remote island to rent a recently renovated home in Scotland. She’s running from her life, for – reasons, and needs some alone time. The neighbors are welcoming and a little smothering even though she does her best to keep them at arm’s length. She quickly learns that the house where she is staying has a spooky reputation and her attempts to investigate upset some of the locals. When odd events start occurring inside the house; sex dreams, a man who may or not be there, strange voices and other haunting events, no one wants to take her seriously with the exception of an old bookseller and a young teacher who is attracted to her. 

So that’s the set up. What follows is a very slow burn but the pace is pretty steady and even. Zoe and her crew of two attempt to figure out exactly what is happening at the house and dig up what has happened in the past. This may or may not have something to do with a long deceased woman, her dead son and possible experimentation with the occult. There are many descriptive passages of sexy times past and present because there also may or not be an incubus involved here somewhere. This may or may not be your cup of tea, coffee or bourbon but I didn’t mind it. More of it wouldn’t have hurt me any either.

Secrets and hints hide in every nook and cranny of this house and its surrounding cliffs. I figured out a few and a few I didn’t see coming at all (a particularly juicy and scandalous one at that). I admit I was disappointed when I guessed at a big one because I don’t think I’m very good at this kind thing but that one was so obvious to me. The characterization is strong and detailed and even though I personally didn’t like Zoe very much (and that never changed); she’s, ummm, imperfect to put it nicely and comes off as self-involved, angry at the wrong people and scatter-brained, I was involved enough with the other characters and their welfare that it wasn’t a stumbling block for me. You can’t like everyone, right? I also NEEDED to know all the secrets and most of them were answered in the end. There’s a pretty big one left dangling though which was a wee bit frustrating after all of the build-up.

I’d give this book a 3.75 on a scale of 1-5. It’s better than average and kept luring me back in whenever I had to put it down to live my life.

I received an ARC from Pegasus Books, thanks for sharing!