written by Wendy Heard
published by MIRA
available December 18, 2018
Holy-Molie! Hunting Annabelle is the absolute definition of a psychological thriller. Narrated by the murderer, Sean Suh is the ultimate antagonist, or is he is the protagonist? Trying to assign a literary term is as complex and confusing as Sean's schizophrenic, heavily medicated mind. And yet I found endearing, reaffirming traits in him that had me feeling sympathetic to his struggle to find redemption.
Can a once-convicted murderer be forgiven? redeemed? rehabilitated? Sean Suh has been a patient at for three years. Convicted of murder as a teenager he is desperately trying to discern fantasy from reality. He often has episodes where he "looses time." Sean avoids personal contact with others. He spends his days alone, drawing the people he sees at a local amusement park. That is until he spots a woman he cannot take his eyes away from. The beautiful, copper-haired Annabelle causes his mind to be flooded with conflicting urges and heart-pounding emotions. He begins talking with her, even meeting her after hours, which is strictly against the rules. But Sean doesn't care, he will do anything to be close to this enchanting woman that seems to understand him so deeply. Then he witnesses her being kidnapped. Or did he? Of course, the police immediately hone in on Sean as the main suspect. Despite his repeated statements to the contrary. The fact he has "lost some time" again certainly doesn't lend credibility to his story.
It is difficult to share my thoughts without ruining what awaits readers. Hunting Annabelle is a fast read. (I read it in just under four hours.) It's ideal for a cozy evening or an extended plane ride. Wendy Heard has delivered a super strong debut. Her writing style is unique and utterly refreshing. In a genre overcrowded with cookie cutter stories, where it is nearly impossible to tell one from the other, Heard has set herself apart. There's nothing to trip you up or distract you from the story Wendy Heard wants you to read. The characters, some demented and utterly detestable are rich and three-dimensional. I both loved and hated Sean. Much like his twisted mind, I too had flip-flop, complex feelings about him throughout the story. I wanted to see him find peace within his convoluted mind and redeem himself with society.
This is a creepy story. . .and when I say creepy I mean creepy. This is a psychological thrill ride inside the mind of a sympathetic, nearly endearing, mentally ill, convicted murderer. Deep, rich, memorable characters live between the covers of this book. Grabbing you from the first chapter all the way to the who-dun-it. My only gripe with Hunting Annabelle was the ending. It felt incomplete and rushed. I wanted more than what reads like the hyping for book number two. Even though I eagerly await another story from Wendy Heard, I wanted the full concentration to be on ending this first book with as much gritty "umph" as was packed into the first 2/3 of the book.
Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can't resist Annabelle--beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle--who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he's desperately trying to be.
Then Annabelle disappears.
Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken first hand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the centre of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened then he’s able to remember?
Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He'll have to let them loose.
Live, Love, and Read!