The Stepchild

Haunted by her dreams . . .

Kathi Ellison is an English literature major at the University of California in Berkeley, living with her boyfriend off-campus. She is also the daughter of a candidate for the U.S. Senate and his wife, a role that could affect her life should her father win the election.

But before she can consider her future, Kathi must first come to terms with her past. A car accident when she was four-years-old killed her mother and left her in a coma for several days. The migraines and nightmares that plagued her as a child have recently returned with a vengeance, leaving her mind full of visions that feel more like memories.

Memories that are not her own. Memories of a frightened and traumatized child named Sheri Walker. Memories linked to her mother’s death that her stepmother doesn’t want her to remember . . .

Joanne Fluke is probably best known for her Hannah Swensen Mysteries which is a 20+ book series and many titles have been made into Hallmark Movies. However she has also written many standalone novels that show she can cross the boundary from quaint Hallmark Mystery types into those kind of stories that will make your skin crawl and keep you up at night.

The Stepchild was originally published back in 1980 before modern technology which is evident in her story but I’ve also noticed in even her current books she has a tendency to write her stories and/or characters in a way that has something of an anti-tech bent to them. Makes me wonder if Fluke herself doesn’t like cell phones, internet, computers, etc.

Beyond it being hard for a millennial to connect with there is a decent edge of psychological suspense that will hold the interest especially as the terror ramps up for the main character. It’s fairly fast paced and intriguing so it’s not hard to blow through.

I like Fluke even when I get irritated with the anti-tech bent in her books and some of the clichés because they’re always easy to read and interesting so you get a break from the stress of the world. I have yet to read anything by her I wouldn’t recommend.

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for allowing me to review this book.

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*synopsis and pic from

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