Thursday, 5 October 2017

EYES LIKE MINE - by Sheena Kamal

EYES LIKE MINE - Sheena Kamal
Published: 2017 - Bonnier Zaffre
Pages: 297.
Genres: Adult / contemporary fiction / thriller / mystery
Triggers/Content Advisory: Strong themes of rape and suicide, infrequent strong language, infrequent strong violence, one scene where a child is medically abused. 
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
It's late. The phone rings. The man on the other end says his daughter is missing. Your daughter. The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. What do you do? Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . .


I haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I know enough about it to know that this book is very similar. But that's not a bad thing. Fans of TGWTDT will love this book, and even if you aren't a fan, you should read Eyes Like Mine because it is a brilliant work of fiction. 



The writing style is unusual and interesting. The 'telling instead of showing' actually works because of the protagonist's state of mind, and the protagonist's emotional deatachment makes for raw, unflinching style of storytelling. It took me a while to accept, but then I loved it.

It took me a few chapters to get into the story. The present mystery that unfolds didn't grip me immediately, but it isn't long before it ties together with Nora's past and all makes sense. The details do come together in the perfect places. From about halfway I was sucked deep into Nora's mind and couldn't tear myself away. I was so invested in her character, desperate to find out how her story resolves. And the climax does not disappoint in any way.

The story is dark, chilling, clever, intense, and not overtly graphic.  Nora's emotionally distant narration took a little getting used to, but as I was given more information about her past, her distance from the story became incredibly effective. Without a doubt, the story could not work without her character at its core. I soon realised and appreciated that.
The physical action is also terrific. I love the fast-paced action scenes, the vividly changing settings, and the Bond-like travelling to different places. The diverse landscapes add so much to the story's mystery and excitement.


'I'd told him what it had been like, living on thew streets. How the police were to be avoided at all costs, how they never helped you if you were homeless or busking. How they pushed you around and made you leave public spaces. How they let other people treat you like garbage without intervening. Cops would never support someone like me. Never.

'A woman is entitled to her secrets. She should be able to hide them away for as long as she wants, without people constantly prying, trying to take a peek inside her head. But secrets are exhausting and that's the plain truth of the thing. The effort of keeping them locked away, shielding them from view......I'm only human, after all. I look away from him, though, because it is the only way I can do this.'

'What do I have to give to love, to feed it so that it grows lush and beautiful like you see in the movies? The happy ones, I mean.......I'm talking about the good love that some people get to have, the kind that nourishes the soul, helps it bloom in the springtime no matter how frigid the winter that precedes it. Everything I have broken or bent somehow, stained so bad that no amount of extra-strength detergent could rub it all out, no matter what the ad says. I have no money to offer to love, no wisdom or kindness. Inside me I have nothing but vast reserves of suspicion and heartache, a current that runs so deep and dark I feel its chill right to my core. And, as it turns out, this current never plays me false.'


The characters are wonderfully layered and full of subtext. Nora is damaged and flawed, with an independence and capability that I absolutely love. She's so intelligent and observant, and her mind is as dynamic as it is dangerous. Her emotionally numb first-person narrative also - ironically - makes her feelings and pain more pronounced. She's even more compelling that way.

All of the secondary characters are strong and vivid. Their dialogue is rich, their personalities deepen as the story goes on, and the interactions between them and Nora are excellent. I especially love Brazuca's character - his relationship with Nora is strange and alluring, but not without pain and gentleness. I look forward to seeing how their relationship progresses in future books.

My one tiny issue with the characters: I do wish the villains had been more three-dimensional.



Eyes Like Mine is a raw, gut-wrenching crime thriller that takes you to sublime settings in the company of an intelligent and damaged heroine. It's intelligent, heartbreaking, and skillfully written. 


4 comments:

  1. Wow, this one sounds dark and gritty but amazing. I read the original three The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo books years ago and loved them. They were definitely dark but it was impossible not to get sucked in to the story. This does sound similar in that way. Great review, Amy!

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    1. It really is. And yeah, if you loved that series, you'll almost definitely love this book :)
      Thanks Tanya!

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  2. The different locations and fast pace sound great! Looks gripping and glad to hear that you were able to get into it before long. One I'll definitely add to my list, as I love thrillers lately!

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    1. They are! Hope you get to read it soon!

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