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4 Star IHIBRP Review: “The Unravelling” by Sarah Northwood

An Edge-Of-Your-Seat Thriller That Refuses To Die!

Sarah Northwood’s “The Unravelling” is a prequel to her popular psychological horror thriller “The Volunteer”, however the novel can easily be read as a stand-alone story about a malicious therapist—Doctor Hollins—and her intentional cultivation of a terribly misguided and severely abused boy—Ryan—into a cold and calculating serial killer. The cast includes Ryan’s father, an abusive and despicable man who demands his son’s constant, undivided attention while seemingly relishing the belittling, beatings, and torture he doles out on Ryan every moment they spend together. Northwood alludes to the fact that the father is most likely responsible for his wife’s fiery death, but with his father’s consistent outpouring of accusatory remarks, poor Ryan has taken that mantle upon himself, thereby causing significant damage to his already unstable psyche. The boy’s teacher recognizes there is an issue, but being held in her regard as an oddity, Ryan develops a twisted hatred for her that might not bode well for her or her significant other unless some sort f counseling is initiated. The father agrees to send Ryan to Doctor Hollins, a fateful decision that will greatly imperil everyone in Ryan’s circle.

For the most part, “The Unravelling” is a moderately-paced read, prodding the reader forward with a lengthy back-story about a couple in love, who deserve a happy and complete life together, mixed in with the unsavory details of the actions of a ruthless father truly deserving of a horrible end. But from beginning to end, the author scares the heck out of her readers as she relates the sordid tale of how Hollins nurtures Ryan from a lonely, out-of-place, and confused child—deeply affected by the death of his beloved mother at the hands of his cruel and narcissistic father—to an unemotional and unaffected killing machine. Northwood’s ability to line up all the players—both innocent and deserving of punishment—gives Ryan a playing field on which to release his tremendous rage, giving the reader a nail-biting, eyes-wide-open, edge-of-your-seat experience that refuses to die.

I have to hand it to Sarah Northwood … This is one author who knows her readers well. “The Unravelling” is a journey into psychosis, boasting a madness comparable to that of Hitchcock’s famed character, Norman Bates. By the end of the story, Ryan’s journey to become who he believes he wants to be—and who Doctor Hollins desires him to become—is complete, but true to Northwood’s writing style, his true purpose has yet to be revealed in this breath-snatching cliffhanger.

Find “The Unravelling” on Amazon and Kindle at:


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