Rummanah Aasi
Description: One night three years ago, the Tanner sisters disappeared: fifteen-year-old Cass and seventeen-year-old Emma. Three years later, Cass returns, without her sister Emma. Her story is one of kidnapping and betrayal, of a mysterious island where the two were held. But to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter, something doesn't add up. Looking deep within this dysfunctional family Dr. Winter uncovers a life where boundaries were violated and a narcissistic parent held sway. And where one sister's return might just be the beginning of the crime.

Review: Emma in the Night is a tense thriller that explores the bond between sisters and family dynamics and epitomizes the word “dysfunctional.” Three years ago, teens Emma Tanner and her sister Cassandra, left home and disappeared into the night. Now Cass has returned without Emma. Dr. Abby Walker of the FBI, a forensic psychiatrist who’s been on the case from the beginning, is desperate to find out what happened and to find Emma before it’s too late. 
  Cass begins to recount the harrowing details of that night. Cass claims that she and Emma had been held captive by a couple conspiring to steal the baby Emma birthed a few months after they disappeared. Emma, she claims, is still being held and needs their help. As FBI psychiatrist Dr. Abby Winter helps Cass unravel details that will lead them to Emma, she becomes convinced that the girls’ pathologically narcissistic mother, Judy, is somehow responsible for the disappearances. 
  The narrative alternates between Cass' first-person narrative ordeal and her family's disturbing history and Abby’s investigation. It is clear that Cass is an unreliable narrator as some of the events she tells the FBI are not consistent, but is she leaving clues for them to help solve the mystery or can she not be completely trusted at all? 
 The book is compulsively readable. Cass' mother, Judy Martin, is a narcissistic, self-involved mother who has always used her beauty and charm to manipulate her family, and her girls had to flatter her to win her affection. She was jealous of the attention given to her beautiful daughters, which threatened her fragile ego, and she was always scheming to get what she wanted even seducing her stepson, Hunter, who had an unhealthy obsession with Emma. Cass is a survivor, before and after the ordeal, who is forced to become an adult very quickly. I felt horrible for her and could understand how she felt conflicted of wanting attention and wanting to be invisible. These are the same feelings that Abby feels as a daughter who also suffered from a narcissistic mother that compels her to help Cass. The build to the ending is strong, however, the ending was anticlimactic as I figured out early on what had happened to Emma. The last three chapters of the book actually tell the real events and you could see how Cass blurred the lines of fiction and reality. I really liked the first half of the book as I was wrapped in the family drama and dysfunction, but in the end I found the book and the plot to be too convoluted to enjoy.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, sexual situations including rape, underage drinking and drug use. Recommended for older teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
3 Responses
  1. I had heard good things about this book but never got to it myself. The slot sounds quite compelling. But now based on your review, and the fact that I have over 125 on my TBR pile, I think I will skip it. Thanks for saving me the time!

  2. Such a bummer when a book heads south in the second half! This sounded like it had potential

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Glad you were able to enjoy this by then ending, it's nice when it actually works out that way. ;)

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