Louise Voss’s The Old You is a strong psychological thriller that’s worthy of a place on everyone’s summer reading list. It’s a fantastically twisty, disorientating thing that pulls the rug out from underneath you just when you’re getting comfortable.
The story, which opens with Lynn’s husband Ed being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, is perfectly paced, creating an escalating mood of disquiet from the very first page. There’s a horrifying realism to how Louise Voss describes Ed’s condition, perfectly capturing the way that dementia can rob people of their faculties, and Lynn is such a well-realised protagonist that you quickly end up rooting for her. It also helps that the story rests on such a masterful concept, taking a disturbing real-world occurrence and then structuring a thriller plot around it, and Voss does it with style.
One of the marks of an excellent psychological thriller – of which this is one – is that it makes you just as bewildered as its protagonist, that it’ll keep you guessing about what is really going on. So, within three chapters here we’re introduced to a range of compelling mysteries, including what happened to Ed’s wife, who the mysterious man smoking outside Lynn’s house at four in the morning was, and what exactly Lynn’s past is – and just when we think we’re starting to get a handle on what’s going on, the narrative makes an abrupt and unexpected departure that shifts the foundations again. If it sounds confusing, don’t despair: Voss’s clean, striking prose doles out revelations carefully so it never becomes overwhelming.
There are points towards the end when perhaps the novel’s realism slips slightly – you could argue it stretches credibility to expect that one protagonist to be trapped in such a tangled web – but honestly, it’s a minor quibble, and the book is so gripping and unexpected that you won’t care. By the denouement, which is shocking and a whole lot more gruesome than I saw coming, you’ll be praising Voss’s book to anyone you know.
The Old You is a very easy novel to recommend – really it’s hard to imagine a person who wouldn’t enjoy it. It’s sophisticated, gripping, shocking and unexpected, with a brilliant concept and an author who follows through masterfully upon its promise: another excellent read from Orenda Books.
The Old You is published by Orenda Books. You can buy it from Amazon here, where the Kindle edition is just 99p at present.
Thanks to Orenda Books for providing a free copy of this book for review.