Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Book Review: The Assistant

By Sara Steven

I know many things about Larissa.

I know what she eats, which must-have brands she applies to her face, and the price of each carefully selected ‘piece’ in her multi-million-pound home in Belgravia.

Because Ris, as she is known to her many followers, likes to share.

And now I’m here, in her home, watching her every move.

Entrusted with her secrets and running her diary from the bijou basement flat, I’m on hand to fulfil Ris’ every need. Her right-hand woman. But what she doesn’t know is why I’m really here.

I’ve put a lot on the line to get this job, and now my plan can begin.

I’ve waited long enough. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

I really appreciated the twist in viewpoints within The Assistant. Going in, we learn from the get go that Gail, the assistant, isn’t there for honest reasons. We know there is something deeper, potentially nefarious, yet despite that I couldn’t help but side with her. One of my favorite things is to see characters who aren’t starkly protagonists or antagonists, and both Gail and Ris check that box. Gail is obviously the “bad guy,” but is she really? Given how she describes her experiences with Ris, it’s hard to really pinpoint who that actually is.

Both are polar opposites. Gail describes her life as a hard one, living on the edge of poverty, while Ris resides in luxury. Gail prefers to live a more quiet life, without the use of social media, while Ris is defined by it. It’s like some sort of perverse Odd Couple situation, with glimpses of humanity. There are times where Gail shows obvious remorse, particularly when she feels that Ris has been wronged in some way, but not enough to change her course. She’s there for a reason, and she’s going to do everything she can to fulfill that. Ris often disregards others, yet there are moments when she shows that she might actually care for Gail, but not if it means putting anyone else first in her life. The person Ris loves the most is Ris.

The story is told in an interesting way, with sections of interviews, diary entries, and email correspondence between individuals who are seeking to find out the real truth about what really happened. At first, the initial diary entries made me think that it might be Ris and what she’s reflecting on from the past, but I quickly learned that it was definitely not her. There is that kind of built-up throughout. I would think the clues led to one person, but it ends up not being that person at all. Or, what I thought might happen, or where a path was leading to, ended up not being the way I imagined it at all. It’s big twists like that that kept me guessing. But the biggest question of all had always been: Why is Gail there? 

It was a fitting story to relate to the times we live in now, with our direct need for social media–the likes, the loves, the comments that can either make us or break us. The sensationalization of trauma and clickbait-able situations that holds someone’s interest for just long enough before they move onto something else. The Assistant was a unique perspective, while also providing plenty of mystery and thrill.

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links: 
Amazon US * Amazon UK

Amanda Reynolds is the bestselling psychological suspense author whose debut novel, Close To Me, was adapted as a major six-part TV series for Channel 4 in 2021. Previously published by Headline, her books have been translated into multiple languages. Amanda lives near Cheltenham.

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