So, you know when you read the taglines..."gripping", "mesmerising"...and you think to yourself, 'hmmm' - yes, well take these superlatives and plaster them all over The Fear because it's all this and more. I can't remember the last time that I had such a knot of anxiety in my stomach whilst reading a book, and not just for a part, no, I'm talking the whole of the book.

If I were to describe what happens (which I'm not because I'm not spoiling this for anyone!) you'd probably look at me with a modicum of disbelief, but honestly everything that happens is so naturally evolved that it makes perfect sense. The story is told through the 3 voices of teenage Chloe, Lou and Wendy; all of whom are linked to the vile Mike, and these different narratives only serve to heighten the tension and keep that book very firmly in your grasp at all times. The initial subject matter of child grooming is, unfortunately, all too real and disturbing and it was heart-breaking to read the insecurities and vulnerabilities that led Lou and Chloe to come under the power of Mike. The trauma which Lou suffered being evident through her actions and failure to maintain healthy romantic relationships in adulthood. And so, whilst this is a thrilling read, it also manages to be thought-provoking and chilling in an altogether more fundamental way.

And so to the action, which is there in abundance. That knot of anxiety that I spoke of at the start, was not in any way abated by me willing Chloe to get out from under Mike's spell, or from yelling at Lou to be careful. The story begins by Lou running away from current beau Ben, reasoned by flashbacks from her past. These flashbacks are disturbing enough as they are, but only when we get to read the full history behind her trip with Mike when she was just 14 do we realise quite how traumatic and devastating it was, even putting aside the whole abhorrence of the grooming (if one ever could). This then becomes a story of protection and revenge, and of course, I couldn't do anything but root for all the females; not just Chloe, Lou and Wendy, but also the belittled mothers of Lou and Chloe. Mike is a predator, so we see the gentle, nice and supportive side to him, but he is essentially...scum...I'm trying so hard to think of a better description for him, but in truth he doesn't deserve it. I felt no sympathy, empathy or anything vaguely approaching liking him; and to be fair wished him nothing but pain and misery from the beginning. The tension that is so cleverly built-up on different levels just never really lets up until the end, and so by the time the end does unfortunately draw near, that knot is just a swirling mess of, well fear; that the outcome will live up to your expectations or desires.

I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed this; even if perhaps, my nails did not! If you're after a thrilling page-turner look no further - a brilliant read.

The Fear is published in paperback by Avon Books on 22nd March 2018 - pre-order it now.