Anonymous by Christine Benedict
Christine Benedict’s Anonymous tells the story of Debra, a former foster care child, now married and working on her first home with her husband, Greg, a man Debra describes as “a gentle man.” Despite Debra’s description of Greg and her insistence that he is unlike her stepfather, Debra still cannot bring herself to tell him no, a forbidden word from where she’d been, a word worth tasting blood in her mouth, which is how she ends up in a dilapidated, grimy house dealing with snakes, spiders, and a multitude of feral cats. It is not surprising that Debra begins to hear things when she is alone in the house. However, for Debra, this does not just mean she is rightfully nervous – Debra’s mother is a paranoid schizophrenic, and Debra’s worst fear is that she has inherited this trait.
Debra soon becomes friends with her nearest neighbor, Julie, who has problems of her own. Julie is not only trapped in a loveless marriage, she is also being stalked by a nameless individual who seems to know everything about her. Debra tries to help Julie identify her stalker, and Julie helps Debra deal with her many problems in her new house, like Otto the recalcitrant bull, who terrorizes Debra for months. Benedict deftly interweaves Julie and Debra’s stories, creating characters that the audience cannot help but like. By alternating episodes of fear and tension with scenes that depict Julie and Debra’s burgeoning friendship, as well as the tender love between Debra and Greg, Benedict keeps readers on the edge of their seats throughout, culminating in a satisfying denouement that adroitly ties together all of the narrative threads. The story is riveting from beginning to end and that, combined with Benedict’s elegantly constructed prose, makes it easy to overlook some minor copyediting errors and some occasional narrative confusion.
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