Cover Image: Hunting Annabelle

Hunting Annabelle

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this book thanks to Net Galley and publisher Harlequin-Mira in exchange for an honest review.

It is so hard for me to pin down how I felt about this book. On the one hand, I felt it was fairly well-written and I was definitely engaged throughout most of it. On the other hand, I absolutely hated the ending and felt like it got very rambly and repetitive about 50% of the way through.

One thing I would like to make clear is that this should definitely be considered a YA thriller. Hunting Annabelle is about a teenager named Sean with severe mental health difficulties (labelled schizophrenia but as a psychologist, I'm not entirely convinced). Sean meets a girl called Annabelle, goes on a date with her and then sees her get kidnapped in front of his eyes. He goes straight to the police but due to his mental health difficulties and some dark things from his past, they don't believe him. He then decides to take matters into his own hands and investigates her disappearance.

For the first half or so of this book, I was very engaged and intrigued by the story. I don't really enjoy reading thrillers with unreliable narrators anymore because I tend to just switch off and wait until the author reveals what really happened at the end, but Sean's potential hallucinations are sort of kept to a minimum and aren't too intrusive. The mental health rep in this is pretty shocking but then, I don't expect a lot from thrillers. There is a fair amount of accuracy in terms of treatment and that side of things but the actual details about the condition are few and far between. Maybe this was meant to add to the ambiguity aspect but it felt lacking to me. I can definitely see it angering some people.

The problems start to kick in around 50% of the way through. Firstly, the story becomes incredibly repetitive. Sean goes to meet someone from Annabelle's past, he finds out a little more about her and then he gets the name of the next person to go see. Rinse and repeat for like 100 pages. Secondly, Sean discovers something very incriminating about a person in Annabelle's life which seems like it would be important to the investigation. An intense fight happens and Sean escapes with evidence of this incriminating thing and then...nothing happens? It isn't mentioned properly until the very end and it's incredibly distracting to have this plot device just hanging there like the elephant in the corner. I initially expected this encounter to be a hallucination of Sean which would explain why it was just forgotten about but this turns out not to be the case and it's just a really baffling writing decision.

This review is spoiler free but the final and biggest problem with this book is the ending. I found it very unbelievable and frankly a bit of a cop-out, and it soured the tone of the whole book for me. Overall, I can see some people really liking this book but I'm just not convinced it brings anything new to the thriller genre. I think the writing has real potential and there are a lot of nice elements at the start of the book. I would want to read more by the author but I can't really recommend this to people, and the problems far outweigh the good points. Sadly this was not a winner.
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Absolutely five star fantastic. Though Sean is a killer, you kinda find him likeable. The book grabs you on the first page and never lets you go. Great story, great characters, great writing.
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I feel like Sean is such a well developed character in Hunting Annabelle. Despite knowing he killed his teenage girlfriend when he was in high school, due to being mentally ill, I couldn't help hoping he could be truly rehabilitated and that he could have a better future. Those thoughts are difficult for me because I know that the girl had her life snuffed out and has no hope of a better life herself and her friends and family will always effected by her murder and death, a reality that Sean realizes. No only that, I wonder if murderers can really be rehabilitated, especially when Sean doesn't seem to have a real support system in his life, other than his psychiatrist, who he never really utilizes in a way that might help him. 

After three years in a psychiatric hospital, Sean is released, in his early twenties, and is now living with his mom in Austin, TX, having moved away from CA, the locale of the murder. His relationship with his neurosurgeon mom is contentious, he's heavily drugged, and he spends his day watching and drawing people at a local theme park. This is where he meets and quickly falls in love with Annabelle, despite knowing her for just a couple of days. Annabelle is kidnapped as he and Annabelle part for the evening and Sean will do anything in his power to find Annabelle and if she is dead, to make her killer pay. At the same time, he can't help wondering if he's responsible for what happened to Annabelle, since he often loses time because of his drugged state. 

This is where we know that Sean is intrigued by the thought of killing and both Sean and I ponder if he is really a killer, born a bad person, rather than mentally ill. The book is fast paced and all from Sean's point of view. Most of the people who should be good, doctors, cops, teachers, are bad in some way or other, and Sean can trust no one at the same time that no one trusts him. I wanted so much for Sean to really be good but the ending shows us that he enjoys certain things too much to be good...how we get to the end is full of twists and turns and certainly leaves room for us to read more about Sean in the future, if the author wants to carry his story forward. It's very obvious to me that the author cares about Sean and his demented "love" story and that makes me want to read more about him even though Sean has a very disgusting side to him. 

Thank you to Wendy Heard, HARLEQUIN - MIRA (U.S. and Canada), and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this ARC.
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I love a good mystery/thriller and Hunting Annabelle is certainly that. Sean Suh has been in a psychiatric prison for a few years because he killed someone. He’s now out, living in a new state with his mom. He tries to stay away from people, drawing them from afar. That is until he meets Annabelle at the local amusement park he frequents everyday. He can’t stop thinking about Annabelle, even as images of him killing her randomly fill his mind. Then, Annabelle goes missing while out with Sean, and he’s certain she’s been kidnapped, except he’s lost some time, and his past doesn’t exactly exonerate him. The police aren’t too sure about the kidnapping theory, and then they set their sights solely on Sean, believing he killed her and his “she was kidnapped” story is just that.

What’s interesting about Hunting Annabelle is that Sean is someone you want to like…and not just want, you do start to like him. He’s murdered someone, plain and simple, but was it entirely his fault? Is he better now that he’s on medication? It’s difficult to tell, and it’s just one of the reasons you keep reading. I felt bad for Sean’s mom. I think she was very controlling, but of course, I can’t imagine being anything else when trying to “raise” a son who has already killed someone…and she obviously fears it will happen again. Hunting Annabelle was both what I thought it was going to be and something entirely different. I definitely recommend, and I think this will be one that readers will want to discuss!
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I love unreliable narrators, so this book was just about perfect for me. Great development and pacing that reveals a vulnerable man trying hard to escape his demons. This is the exact type of book that I love to read because it embodies all the unpredictability and twisty events that pull me into dark worlds and twisted minds.
4.5 stars to this disturbing debut novel that has me eagerly anticipating Heard's next book in 2019!
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Reading about psychotic killers and aggressive, unremorseful sociopaths is my jam! Hunting Annabelle had all of that, along with a damaged MC that you can't help but feel some sympathy for. Yikes, did I just admit I found a sociopath endearing? Yes, I did! 

I was intrigued by the premise of the book. Sean Suh is a killer. He is fighting demons daily, trying not to kill again. Then he meets Annabelle. He falls hard - there is something about her that draws him in completely. Then Annabelle is kidnapped right before his eyes. No one believes she is in danger. It's up to him to save her. 

At first, Sean's quest was interesting. As he uncovers more about Annabelle's past, we see that there is a lot more lurking under her shiny exterior and things aren't always what they seem. Things seemed to drag a bit though towards the middle. I wasn't surprised by the reveal as I felt things were neatly leading in that direction. It was a bit outlandish but then again - it's fiction. I can roll with it & I did for the most part. The implausible scenario surrounding the reveal actually helped make it a little more interesting. Things had become a little stale during Sean's quest to find Annabelle. 

Still, the ending really pulled the book together for me. It was different and unexpected and I wholeheartedly approve! I can actually see another book coming from this duo and I'd definitely be curious to see what they are up to in the future.
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Wendy Heard nailed it with this book: set in the 80's, amongst narrow-minded Texans, with an Asian protagonist fresh out of a mental facility.  You couldn't ask for a more fun plot.  This book felt like The Girl on the Train meets Stranger Things: secrets on top of secrets on top of lies with an abduction mystery kicker.

Sean is a young Asian man with a sordid past, recently released from a mental hospital.  He struggles to control his evil instincts, battling his demons on a daily basis. He meets Annabelle, a beautiful medical student, who reciprocates his interest.  It's a nice change for Sean, but doesn't help his inner turmoil.  Annabelle goes missing abruptly, and Sean takes up the cause to find her.  

The police don't believe him.
Her family and friends aren't concerned.
His mother thinks he had something to do it.
The police then suspect him.
Then he suspects himself.

His anxiety grows throughout this book, but he continues his efforts, even when to his detriment.  Is Sean an unreliable narrator?  Did he kill Annabelle?  So many questions, so many twists!

I loved this book, especially with the light sprinkling of 80's pop culture throughout.

What an excellent debut!
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Unfortunately, Hunting Annabelle wasn't the story for me. Around the 50% mark was where it seemed to turn for me and I never got my interest back. Our protagonist, Sean Suh, is a Korean-American in his early 20s who you discover early on has some pretty strong urges to hurt and kill young women. In fact, you learn that he acted on these urges at least once in a severe enough manner to have him sentenced to a psychiatric prison. However, at the point where we meet him, he is living with his overbearing and severe mother in a different state from where he committed his crime(s).

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the beginning. It started off strong. It is revealed to you over time the extent of Sean's illness and resulting actions and I enjoyed the way that was slowly unfolded for us. He is very much an unreliable narrator and it is unclear early on how much of his thoughts you can actually believe as the truth.

After a certain point however it just got to be too much. Then plot twists occurred where my eyes legit almost rolled out of my head. I just didn't buy what the author was trying to sell. It completely lost me on the story. 

By the final 20% I just couldn't. I had to push to make it through. However, just because this story wasn't for me, in no way makes this a bad book. The author's writing style is very fluid and easy to read. The suspense and uncertainty at the beginning definitely kept me turning the pages. If you are okay with the plot twists, this could probably be a really strong book for you. It is very violent, very messy, very over-the-top but also explores some interesting topics of identity and mental health. 

There are readers for every story but unfortunately, this one just didn't work for me. I want to thank the publisher, Harlequin - MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and I would read more books by Wendy Heard in the future.
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*2.5 stars

Hunting Annabelle sounded like it would be a book I would love! Stories with a mystery are my favorite, especially when everything is not what it seems.

Sadly, I predicted the majority of the plot twists and it didn't have the mystery that I was hoping it would have.

The characters were pretty strong, the dynamic between Sean and his mom felt authentic, and Sean's character was well developed.

The characters in this book were so well described, and I could tell that Heard put a lot of thought into each one. The majority of the descriptions greatly helped me to imagine the side characters, but sometimes it was too much. There was a description of one of the police officers who had a mustache. I think he was the only one who was over-described, to the point where I started to get annoyed by him.
Another fun aspect of the characters was that dialect was included! There were only one or two people with a strong dialect, but when it was used, the characters became much more real sounding. When Sean goes to a town in Texas, the dialect that the locals have just reads authenticly, and I can tell that I'm in one of those smaller towns. 

The descriptions of the settings were also thoroughly done. Tiny details would be mentioned, such as a crocheted blanket with worn tassels, that gave more perspectives into the characters lives. The opening scene of the book was full of these descriptions. Sean has the ability to see what he considers peoples' auras. He is sitting in a theme park and drawing, and he sees these colors around everyone as they pass by. It was fascinating to see how he views these auras and how they interact and mix with each other.

I loved the plot of the book! As a reader, I was able to feel the anger and annoyment that Sean has when no one believes him when he says Annabelle was kidnapped. Watching him go from person to person (sometimes with evidence) and have them continue to say that he made it all up was so frustrating to read. I enjoyed watching Sean go out and about to try to find where Annabelle was, from talking to her roommate to going to her hometown. I also enjoyed how Sean's background was slowly revealed piece by piece. I pretty much knew what had happened, but I loved slowly learning about his past. 

The biggest disappointment this book had for me was the ending. There were two smaller twists and one major one. I saw one of the smaller twists coming from the first page and the other one a couple of chapters in. As for the big one, I didn't see it coming. And I would have been happy if it ended in the location of the plot twist, but instead, the book continued. This is what brought my rating down. I despise how the book continued after the last plot twist, it got bizarre and left me with more questions than answers. Hunting Annabelle then continued with an epilogue which was even weirder and more twisted, and I was not a fan.

To conclude, I liked this book. I loved seeing things through Sean's perspective. I was able to feel his annoyance when person after person didn't believe him when he said Annabelle was kidnapped. The writing was done very well. Some of the characters had a strong dialect, and the descriptions of locations gave lots of perspective into the characters' lives. However, the one part that seriously bothered me was the ending. There were a couple of twists that I predicted in advanced and one that I didn't see coming. However, it was the twist that I didn't see coming and what happened next that bothered me the most. The ending was very messy and it left me with more questions than answers. It was just weird and felt off for a couple of reasons I can't put my finger on. I don't know if I would recommend this book, but if I did, I would most definitely tell them not to read the ending as it was not the best.
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I was sure that this book was going to be a great read, after seeing all of the four and five star reviews. Unfortunately it was not to be. It was a quick read but that was about all that was good about it. I just wanted it to be over. Sean was just nerve wracking and annoying. I'm glad to be done with this book.
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Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard is a psychological thriller.

First, let me thank NetGalley, the publisher Harlequin - MIRA, and of course the author, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

My Synopsis: 
23-year old Sean Suh is generally heavily medicated. He has served his time in a psychiatric prison, and is now living with his Mom (a neurosurgeon) in Texas.

He sees his psychiatrist twice a week, and she keeps trying to get him to talk to others.

Little does she know that Sean, during his daily trip to a theme park where he draws the people and their auras, has met someone. Annabelle was visiting the park to spread the ashes of her crazy grandmother. Annabelle is beautiful, and to Sean, her aura is copper. They actually hit it off, and Sean is determined to keep his urges under control. He will NOT hurt Annabelle. When he sees her kidnapped, Sean immediately informs the police. Their reaction is disbelief, especially when his mother tells them he is mentally ill. With no one believing him, Sean decides to find Annabelle himself. Unfortunately, with every step he takes, he seems to get deeper into trouble. The police seriously believe he harmed Annabelle and Sean is beginning to wonder himself.

My Opinions: 
WOW. This was simply an amazing book. I can’t believe this was the author’s debut novel. Wendy Heard tackled a few tough subjects in this one including mental illness, violence against women, police brutality…some of which just left you shocked. Of course, remembering that this was set in the 1980’s helps a little.

I loved Sean. The author created a hero who has touches of both good and evil, and it worked. A hero that was both loving and scary, sane yet insane, often violent, and a rather unreliable narrator. His thought processes often had me laughing, when I wasn’t wondering what he was going to do next!

The pace was fast, and the twists just kept coming. This book was hard to put down. It was just so different. It was a really wild and fun ride!

Beware, it is not for the squeamish….I loved it, and I thought the ending was perfect!

I can’t wait for her next book!
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Hunting Annabelle is a début psychological thriller which examines the struggles a young Korean American wages against the dark desires of his soul. Sean Suh spends his day at a place called Four Corners, a location he calls “a cheap Disneyland rip-off”. He likes to draw the people wandering through the park, although the one thing he can never capture on paper is the very thing that attracts him to them. Sean sees auras; the seething red of an angry parent, the calm blue of a happy couple. He has never seen one like hers before though: “Tendrils of copper roll off her like fog, and close up something shadowy and elusive lurks behind them.” He follows her across the park, catching up to her in the Ghosts of Texas past exhibit, where she introduces herself as Annabelle and they bond while discussing the biography of serial killer Deadly Annie. This is their beginning.

But is it also their end? Just a few days later, Sean sees Annabelle snatched off the street. His schizophrenia diagnosis and juvenile record have the police deeming him an unreliable witness and dismissing his testimony. His mother insists he up his meds and see his psychiatrist more frequently. Everyone thinks he’s hallucinating or worse, covering up his own culpability, but Sean knows what he saw. He begins a quest to find the missing Annabelle and destroy whatever dark forces have taken her from him. No matter what it costs, he will have her back.

Maggie Boyd and Shannon Dyer read Hunting Annabelle and got together to share their thoughts on the novel.

Maggie: The book centers primarily around Sean, his struggle to control the dark forces within him and how others around him respond to him due to his past. I had a lot of different feelings about all of that. In regard to how people treated him, I was appalled by the racism of some but mostly, I felt people were responding to him with a certain empathy and kindness. Given his past, I didn’t feel like they were being especially cruel or unsympathetic. What were your thoughts on that?

Shannon: I was most impressed with Ms. Heard’s ability to show us the wide variety of responses Sean elicited on a daily basis. There was some obvious and appalling racism, but I was also struck by the kindness and empathy he was given. He displayed some mannerisms that could have been distressing to people, but I never felt he was being unfairly victimized because of them.

Maggie: One of the characters whose responses to Sean are held up for our critique is that of his mother, Dr. Suh. I am sure it was not deliberate, but the text seemed very judgmental of her job: the fact that she had nannies caring for Sean, the fact that she didn’t accept pseudo-science over established medical practice, and the fact that she used her wealth to help him all seemed to be criticized. In fact, I would say professional women in general – Sean’s psychiatrist, his mother and Annabelle – are portrayed rather negatively.  Did you get that same vibe? If not, which professional female character do you feel was treated positively?

Shannon: I definitely saw this with Dr. Suh. She was judged quite harshly for her choices, both personal and professional. I wanted people to give her the benefit of the doubt, to actually see her as a mother doing the best she could for her son. I didn’t like everything she did, but I do believe she was acting from a place of love and protectiveness. I didn’t see other female characters tarred with the same brush though.

Maggie: Sean is Korean American but to be honest, I wasn’t sure why. In every respect, the character is American and the only way his ethnicity affected the story was that it enabled Ms. Heard to show the bigotry of certain people around him. I rolled my eyes a bit at this as I felt the author used an overtly heavy hand with the issue. Subtle racism is much more typical, insidious and troublesome. What did you think of how Sean’s ethnicity was used within the story?

Shannon: I was pleased that the author didn’t gloss over our society’s negative reaction to racial differences by making Sean’s heritage a nonissue. Sean freely admits that he isn’t really in touch with his Korean culture, and that works in the context of the narrative.

Maggie: The story is set in 1986, enabling the author to avoid forensic details like cell phone locations, and DNA evidence, but beyond that I didn’t feel the author did much with the time period. What are your thoughts on that?

Shannon: I definitely think the story could have been imbued with a stronger sense of time. We know it’s 1986 because the author tells us, but aside from the lack of cell phones, laptop computers, and electronic communications, the time period wasn’t easily recognizable. The story could have been set any time before the advent of today’s technology.

Maggie:  Sean as our primary character is the only person I felt we really knew, and he is most definitely an anti-hero. Honestly, I kept expecting a twist that would give us a moment of clarity as to why we should like him or root for him in any way and I didn’t receive such a moment. Even with the issue regarding his diagnosis, I didn’t accept the new explanation and while I pitied him for his difficulties, I was infuriated by how he was handling them.  What were your thoughts on Sean?

Shannon: The term anti-hero describes Sean perfectly. I found him incredibly difficult to like, especially once we were given glimpses into his past. Its clear life wasn’t easy for him, and I did feel badly for him because of it, but the obsessive nature of his inner dialogue and his inability to consider the consequences of his actions proved difficult for me to get my head around. Even so, I found his story quite riveting.

Maggie: I agree, he definitely held your attention. Stacey Hetzel, the former friend from Lone Herman, gave a perfect assessment of Annabelle: “She’s always the one judging, holier than thou, prissy. . . stuck up.” I thought that pretty much nailed the character along with the definition of “messed up family.” What did you think of Annabelle?

Shannon: I have conflicting feelings about Annabelle. Since we mainly see her through Sean’s somewhat distorted lens, I never felt I really knew her as a person. She’s a flawed character to be sure, but that’s a gross generalization. Her family is quite dysfunctional, and Annabelle is a product of that dysfunction. I would have liked a clearer look into her psyche.  I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have made me like her, but it might have cleared up some of her motivations.

Maggie: That feeds into my biggest complaint about the book, which is that I kept waiting for a twist that never came. I needed something that would put the tale into perspective and help me to feel something for the two leads beyond a little pity and a whole lot of disgust. What was your overall assessment of the story?

Shannon: The novel did possess some twists, but I didn’t completely buy into many of them. I got the distinct impression Ms. Heard was trying too hard to shock and confuse the reader. I love twists that come out of nowhere, but they have to make a certain amount of sense when I look back on them, and most of the plot twists employed here didn’t work well for me.

Maggie: I think the book is created to be for fans of Dexter or maybe Breaking Bad, although I felt it lacked the nuance found in those shows. I really struggled with my final grade. The prose is good and the beginning of the story intriguing. It’s certainly very readable but when you set the book down, you start to see all the flaws. Ultimately, I came up with a C+. I could easily be swayed to go a bit higher or a lot lower because I really struggled to pull all the elements into grade format.

Shannon: I had similar difficulties. The story is very readable, and I was eager to uncover the truth along with Sean. However, once I started evaluating the story in a critical way, its many flaws became quite apparent. It’s one of those books that didn’t manage to live up to its potential, and so I’m giving it a C+ as well. I can’t completely discount it, but neither can I give it a wholehearted recommendation.
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This book was super entertaining. The writing was great. The characters were interesting. It was well paced. The plot was engaging and full of twists and turns. I would have given it 5-Stars, but I thought the "twist" was a little far-fetched, and what in the heck happened to his Mom?? Other than that this was a great read.
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This book had me enthralled from the very beginning. Did it happen? Did he do it? He doesn't even know! Definitely a creepy book, with a huge twist! I recommend this to all mystery/thriller/crime lovers!

Thank you #NetGalley for the early copy of #HuntingAnnabelle!
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“The therapy they gave me didn’t work and neither did the meds because they’re treating the wrong illness. What I have can’t be treated. It’s just what I am. I am a predator. I am a beast.”

I almost ended up passing up this title, since I had not seen many of my fellow bloggers and reviewers cover it, and those that had covered it seemed to have mixed reviews. But I am SO glad that I decided to give this one a go because it was right up my alley. 

If you are a fan of Dexter and/or enjoy getting to see inside the dark corners of the mind of the ‘bad guy’ in a story… you HAVE to meet Sean. He has been through a lot of traumatic events (that he ultimately caused), is recovering and adjusting to a ‘normal’ life after institutionalization, loses chunks of time, and is highly medicated— I mean, could we possibly get any more unreliable of a narrator?! And we all know I’m a sucker for those unreliable narrators! 

While he has a dark and dangerous past, the way in which the author places us inside of Sean’s mind creates this looming sense of pity. I found myself becoming very attached to Sean as a character, feeling defensive of him, and in a sense, excusing some of the things that he has done–which is an insane thing for an author to be able to do in the realm of swaying reader opinion. Sean is 100% humanized and although there were so many periods of time during the story line where I found myself doubting and questioning him… I always found myself rooting for a positive outcome for him. 

The novel is fast-paced, quickly shifting us through the stages of meeting Sean, meeting Annabelle, experiencing (Sean’s interpretation of) Annabelle’s abduction/kidnapping, and going on a search for answers alongside Sean, who has fallen helplessly in love with Annabelle. 

And man… that ending!!! What a whirlwind. 

So many of the things that I love about this novel cannot be discussed without presenting spoilers– so if you end up picking this one up, I would LOVE to chat about it with you and discuss some of those topics and characters. 

Very enjoyable, fast-paced, thrilling, and highly recommended!!

Trigger Warnings (May Contain Spoilers):   Graphic Violence, Murder, Assault, Sexual Assault, Rape, Drug Use/Abuse, Mentalism, Institutionalization, Mentioning of Suicide 

Thank you to the author, Wendy Heard, and MIRA Books for providing me with a DRC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow, I was definitely not expecting that!
Seems like an odd choice of time of year to release this book, it seems more like a Halloween style book because it's very, very dark. A twisted suspenseful thriller that is not for everyone (many trigger warnings, I'm not going to list them because of spoilers, but if you get triggered by pretty much anything this isn't for you), but if you like that type of book this one will hit the spot.
Mental illness (or not?), murders, missing people, and some twists that come out of left field. I have some mixed feelings about the ending. It's quite shocking, not the way I thought the book was going, and it left me with a bit of a bad aftertaste, but still...you have to credit the author for a unique conclusion that is both surprising and disturbing at the same time.
Sean is an unreliable narrator (you know this from the start, it's not a spoiler) but his motivations are unclear until the end. I can't say much more because I don't want to give anything away. If you like dark thrillers, make sure to put this one on your list.
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Wow! There is a lot to unpack here. And not much to say that wouldn't be a repetition of the summary or give something away. Needless to say, Ms. Heard has a lovely twisted mind and the writing skills to reel in a reader! Has Sean reverted to his psychotic killer self? Did Annabelle really get kidnapped or did Sean do something to her? And how come Sean seems to be the only person concerned? I love where Ms. Heard took the story and her characters. I almost wish she could follow up with a sequel. But to say why would give things away. Just read it!
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I requested an eARC of Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard from Netgalley. I don’t reach for crime/thrillers a ton, but this one drew me in. I’m really glad I gave it a chance, I found it really thought-provoking and compelling. Read on to find out what I liked about this twisty-turny book.

What initially pulled me toward this book is Sean, and he did not disappoint. He lives & struggles with some form of mental illness, namely Schizophrenia. The story takes place in the mid-’80s and we have learned a lot about what Schizophrenia is and is not since then. You’ll have to read this one yourself to find out if Sean was misdiagnosed or not. Sean’s perspective as a narrator is highly unreliable and very emotional. He constantly questions his choices and motivations in a way that artfully depicts his anxieties about his own behavior. The character of Sean, I think, is enough to give this book a try if you’re a fan of serial killer stories.

“Is this what all serial killers feel like? Are they hrrified to be themselves?”

Hunting Annabelle is a mystery novel, at its heart. Sean is trying to find Annabelle after seeing her taken off the street right in front of his eyes. His mental illness makes him question everything he sees, to the point where even he suspects himself as Annabelle’s kidnapper. It makes for a compelling story to be sure. I never felt like I lacked the information to solve the case, but I was still surprised by the ending!

I think a lot of readers will be particularly struck by the ending of this book. I won’t say too much, but it felt like something unique to me. Again, if you are a frequent reader of Serial Killer stories I think this is one to add to your TBR. It reminded me a bit of You by Caroline Kepnes mixed with Sadie by Courtney Summers. If you’ve read Hunting Annabelle I would love to know your thoughts! I would also love more thriller recommendations. Thanks for reading!

 

Note: Quotation taken from an unfinished version of the book and is subject to change.
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I always get a bit excited when I see a Korean-American lead in a book.  Even if he's one of the most unreliable narrators I've come across in a while! No one seems to believe him when he says he saw Annabelle get abducted so it's up to him to find her.  In doing so, he finds himself - or at least a part of him he was extremely confused about.

As a debut, this is a fantastic start to a long career for Heard. I love where her mind went with Suh's story.  While I did feel it jumped the shark a bit at the end, I wish there was just a little bit more given.  From the journey Sean went through, the last parts felt a bit rushed, abrupt and uneven when it came to the rest of the story line.  However, I absolutely love the fact that it was unexpected and different.

Anyone who is a fan of the unreliable narrator, enjoys an off the rails story where you're not entirely sure what's going on, this is a fun ride to be on.  Put on your seat belt.. or don't.. live a little dangerously and go hunting with Sean.
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The premise of this novel intrigued me for sure. It sounded different… and it was different.

Sean is an intriguing protagonist. You know he has killed, you know he is mentally unstable, but you still cannot help but like him and root for him. The author wrote his character very well. Through his eyes you see Annabelle and his desperate search to find out what happened to her after she is kidnapped.

This story really kept me on the edge of my seat. I changed my mind about the probably outcome several times. It was an easy read and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I did not absolutely love the ending and thought it was a bit far fetched, but not to the extreme.  I personally did not really care for it, but I am sure a lot of people will appreciate the resolution.

I did enjoy the writing. It was uncomplicated and flowed well. I will definititely keep an eye out for future books by this author.

Hunting Annabelle is a good read and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a psychological thriller that reads a bit like YA.
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