I’ve read my fair share of adult thrillers. Authors like Dean Koontz and Stieg Larsson have had me on the edge of my seat, reading as fast as I can to find out who did it and why. I haven’t seen many YA thrillers though, especially not a New Zealand thriller for teens. When Helen Vivienne Fletcher, a New Zealand author from Wellington, contacted me about reviewing her book I read the blurb and was immediately intrigued. I needed to read this book about a teenage girl, coping with an abusive boyfriend (among other things) and the stranger on the end of the phone who offers to help. Helen’s story absolutely lived up to the intriguing blurb and she had me hooked from the very first page.
A stranger just put Kelsey’s boyfriend in a coma. The worst part? She asked him to do it.
Seventeen-year-old Kelsey is dealing with a lot – an abusive boyfriend, a gravely ill mother, an absent father, and a confusing new love interest.
After her boyfriend attacks her in public, a stranger on the end of the phone line offers to help. Kelsey pays little attention to his words, but the caller is deadly serious. Suddenly the people Kelsey loves are in danger, and only Kelsey knows it.
Will Kelsey discover the identity of the caller before it’s too late?
Broken Silence is a pulse-pounding thriller, full of twists that keep you guessing. Helen makes you second-guess yourself as you try to figure out who the mysterious caller is. I can’t think of another book recently that has had me thinking about the story and the characters constantly. When I wasn’t reading it I was worrying about Kelsey and what would happen next.
Kelsey doesn’t have an easy life. Her dad walked out on the family, her mum is in a care home with dementia and her boyfriend, Mike, is abusive. He talks down to her and can turn violent quickly, but will then come back apologising the next day. He has the worst role model in a violent father who is most often drunk. Kelsey lives with her brother, Pete, and his flat mates, Aiden and Ben. One day Kelsey starts getting prank calls, with the person breathing heavily and not saying anything. The calls escalate to the stage that it’s not just on the home phone and her cell phone, but also on the phone at Mike’s place. When Mike gets violent after a party the person on the end of the phone offers to help Kelsey. She tries to break up with Mike but he won’t let this happen and so he attacks Kelsey, leaving her with multiple injuries and unconscious. When she wakes up in the hospital she learns that someone else attacked Mike and he is in a coma. Things get even worse for Kelsey as the phone calls keep coming and she tries to figure out the identity of the caller. As she found out with Mike, those closest to her are in danger unless she keeps quiet. But how do you keep quiet when you just want the violence to stop and your life back?
Helen really knows how to build the tension and keep you guessing. There are so many different possibilities of who the mysterious caller could be and I think this is because of the skillful way that Helen builds the characters. As the story progresses we get to know more and more about the people in Kelsey’s life and this leads you to suspect that it could be this person or it could be that person. Helen would make me think the caller was one particular character just by something they said or did, but then I would think it couldn’t possibly be them. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t see the ending coming. The ending is pretty traumatic but there is still a touch of hope that things will get better.
Broken Silence is not the sort of story we see much of in YA fiction but I’d certainly like to see more. It’s perfect for teens who want a gritty, edge-of-your-seat story but I also know that adults will love it too. I’d love to see Broken Silence on book awards lists next year as it is certainly a winner with me. I can’t wait to see what Helen Vivienne Fletcher writes next!
To find out more about Broken Silence or to purchase the book check out Helen’s website – helenvfletcher.com