Helloooo there, friends! I’m excited to be reviewing SPARE ROOM by Dreda Say Mitchell! Spare Room was an interesting read, and by the end, I definitely enjoyed it! The cover boasts that it is “a twisty dark psychological thriller” (as you can see in the photo above, with my sweet Nala!) which I’m inclined to agree with. Let’s delve in, shall we?
The book begins with an incredibly confusing prologue, which honestly was hard to follow. I do sometimes find the beginning of crime fiction novels to be a bit disorienting… I think some authors try to be TOO elusive or TOO thrilling, and occasionally, it comes across as just confusing. That being said, the payoff is definitely here with Spare Room… although the prologue follows a male through a seemingly difficult decision that he is deliberating, it’s only a few pages and then the real story begins.
Spare Room is told in the first person. Lisa, our protagonist, is looking for a spare room to stay in (hence the title!). Luckily, she finds a beautiful room in a Victorian home owned by couple Jack and Martha; Jack is many years Martha’s junior, which creates an interesting dynamic in landlords.
The plot really picks up when Lisa finds a suicide note in her room that is clearly written by the previous tenant. On her first visit, Jack tells her that there have been no previous tenants, and Lisa is the first tenant they’re renting out to. Here is the crux of our story: Lisa is simultaneously battling her own mental health concerns while she is investigating this spare room and also revisiting her past. These issues come to a head about two-thirds through the book.
Spare Room has a quick-moving plot and Lisa is likable enough. That being said, I think the most interesting characters are ones we don’t see as much of: Lisa’s neighbor, Patsy, and Jack and Martha are all more interesting and dynamic than Lisa, but unfortunately, they are definitely just supporting characters. They do indeed help move the “twisty” plot ahead, though, so they serve specific purposes in the novel.
Spare Room is definitely a psychological thriller, and at 268 pages, it’s a quick read. I recommend it if you’re looking for something to speed through that has twists and turns and keeps you flipping the pages! If you read it, let me know in a comment! Enjoy 🙂