Review: “The Silent Places,” Skyla Dawn Cameron

Rating: 5 out of 5

I finally turned in the last of this semester’s classwork, so I immediately started reading Skyla Dawn Cameron’s The Silent Places. I love her other books in different genres, so I was looking forward to this. And I wasn’t let down.

First, it’s important to note that this is a psychological thriller. It doesn’t have a lot of fast action–it’s mostly about what’s going on in one woman’s head. If you enjoy psychological thrillers, I believe you won’t be disappointed!

In a remote Yukon village, Imogene Sharp lives with her little girl, Nadia. One year previously Imogene’s husband Nick vanished during a blizzard, never to return. Imogene is quite well aware that the townspeople think she murdered her husband–she only moved there with him a handful of years ago, and they never welcomed her. She still deals with passive-aggressive comments and pointed stares. When Imogene’s face gets plastered all over the internet, she realizes that her past may just catch up to her. She changed her name, she moved to the middle of nowhere, she got married, and yet she can’t escape the fallout from her relationship with an abusive husband who was a police officer. Then one day little things start to happen. Her home is vandalized. There are mysterious footprints in the snow and mud around her home. An old friend of Nick’s offers to help her with her home security, but she isn’t sure that’ll be enough.

Serious content warnings for domestic violence and rape (the latter is not detailed). It’s handled skillfully and carefully. One of the best things about this book is its no-holds-barred depiction of domestic violence–the kind of psychological toll it takes, how it can alter your outlook forever, and what it takes to get away from it. Everything Imogene does now is affected by her past experiences. The story is presented with Imogene’s situation alternating with her experiences before she ran off and married Nick. Imogene’s former husband was a police officer, and it’s briefly noted that the domestic violence rate among police is significantly higher than in the general population, and we see what some of the consequences of that are.

One of the best parts of the book, in my opinion, is Imogene’s experiences with Owen, a childhood friend of Nick’s. After everything that’s happened to her she has to watch him like a hawk after he offers to help her. She tests him in little ways–seeing if he’ll try to take advantage of her when she seems drunk, for example. It’s a stunning way to show how women often have to live their lives in fear, and how they can’t take trusting the men around them for granted.

I’m tempted to say the story blurs the line a bit between psychological thriller vs. psychological horror. There are some very dark moments in here. If you aren’t put off by the idea of reading about domestic abuse, I highly encourage you to read this book. It handles the subject so very thoughtfully and carefully.

Oh, also… the ending is PERFECT.

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