Review: Stephen Giles – the boy at the keyhole

the boy at the keyhole
Stephen Giles

Samuel’s mother left in the middle of the night leaving him with only Ruth for company. Soon, Samuel is paranoid that Ruth has killed his mother, and he finds himself searching everywhere in the house for truth. His uncle and his best friend can’t help him – what is true and what isn’t?

I started diligently reading this novel, and then got bored with the incredibly slow progression. I did want to know what happened though, so I basically just skim read to the ending. I’m fortunate that I didn’t waste my time on this novel because the ending was disappointing anyway.

The author sets us up to hate Ruth simply because it is told from Samuel’s perspective. Ruth is portrayed as overbearing and a perfectionist, and very controlling. It’s hard to tell whether she really is these things, and whether she has killed Sam’s mother. That’s where the psychological thriller part should have come in, but I honestly didn’t care about his mother.

I honestly thought that this would be a novel similar to The Girl in the Red Coat, where Samuel was locked in his room all the time and could only peer out through the keyhole, and not be allowed to go to school. I also didn’t finish that novel, so perhaps it’s not a surprise I didn’t read this one thoroughly. 1 star. Try babydoll for a truly horrifying kidnap/isolation narrative.

Penguin Random House | 17th September 2018 | AU$29.99 | hardback

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