Jane stumbles on the rental opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to live in a beautiful ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect, on condition she abides by a long list of exacting rules. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before.
I could not put this book down. What I especially loved about it was that the chapters were short, not that I don’t like long chapters, but it’s good when they aren’t longer than they need to be. Each chapter switched between Emma: Then and Jane: Now. Emma lived in the house a few years before Jane and therefore we are given an insight into their own experiences in this minimalist house that have tonnes of particular rules and no room for anything you own, i.e. minimalistic.
We’re introduced to the Architect – Edward, who is immediately portrayed as a Christian Grey-type character. He’s controlling, he takes what he wants and isn’t willing to compromise, and most importantly, Jane and Emma are almost instantly in captivated by him. As the story goes on, both Emma and Jane discover that Edward had a wife and child who were tragically killed and buried beneath the very house they live in. For Jane, she wonders if it was Edward who killed Emma, as well as his family. So now we’re seeing a dark side to the Fifty Shades of Grey fantasy.
Edward’s relationships with both Emma and Jane show striking similarities but it is clear both women are completely different from each other in almost everything but their looks (yes, they have to look the same). While Emma looks to have a future with Edward, Jane sets out to prove that he is not a killer, despite Emma’s ex-boyfriend trying to convince her otherwise.
J.P. Delaney proves that she can twist and turn a story to the complete surprise of the reader. I have to say, the character development truly was amazing No one in the story is who you think they are. Secrets are exposed and suddenly you find that you were rooting for the wrong character.
Unfortunately I felt the ending didn’t satisfy the rollercoaster that the story was leading up to. I’m sure a lot of people who have read it or will read it may find the ending fit perfectly but for me it didn’t do the characters justice and nothing really felt resolved, though that’s not always a bad thing. After all, in real life not everything can be wrapped up in a neat little bow.
I was prepared to give this book at least 4 out of 5 stars but the ending kind of threw me and so I’ll have to reduce it to 3 and a half. I do believe J.P. Delaney has potential and my disappointment with the ending of this book won’t prevent me from reading other stories by her. I do love my twists and turns!
P.S. As an animal lover I need to be forewarned if there’s a death or cruelty to an animal in book/film/TV show. I know it’s not real but I’m sensitive to our furry friends. So animal loving readers of The Girl Before, an animal is harmed in this story.