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  • Writer's pictureHannah Brennan

The Girlfriend - K.L. Slater

Published by Bookouture, Thursday 27th October 2022

The Girlfriend moves at breakneck speed through an absolutely wild situation, putting both its protagonist and antagonist in increasingly desperate positions.

Now, full disclosure, I am a signed-up and paid-for K.L. Slater mega-fan. Usually I'm an Audible-listener, and Slater is one of my go-to authors for a thrilling listen. My favourite from her extensive back catalogue is The Apartment, which got a big fat five stars from me on GoodReads in January this year.

So, I had high hopes for The Girlfriend, and of everything on my TBR (to be reviewed) list, it's been one of the most highly anticipated.

You can imagine my relief when it didn't disappoint. Exploring themes of fidelity, power, loneliness and mental health - this ambitious novel delivers on many levels.

Opening chapters

Slater wastes absolutely no time getting into the plot, and we barely get to admire Jennifer's lavish lifestyle and Grand Designs-worthy home before it's all torn away from her.

The novel opens with the death of Jennifer's husband in a car accident, and before she's even begun to come to terms with the news, her husband's girlfriend and baby son are on the doorstep. As if that weren't traumatic enough - Sara reveals she owns the family home.

At this point I would say, if you like your thrillers to be hyper-realistic and Big-Little-Lies-esque, this might not be the plot for you. What Slater does best is dream up a scenario that is so unimaginable you'd never have thought of it - then runs with it.

In the case of Jennifer and Sara I think this works, because the husband/boyfriend Cole is out of the picture, and the two women take centre stage from the very start of the book.

Quite a character

I would say that I found almost every character in this unlikable to a degree. I wanted to shake Jennifer, I was almost glad Cole died a horrible death and Sara is... well Sara. This worked well for me though; if the book had had a totally innocent and blameless protagonist I think it would have been jarring.

As it is, however, the cast is well handled, with enough secondary characters to keep you guessing, but not so many to get distracting.

Another excellent move by Slater is the multiple-narration, particularly from the point of view of Jennifer and Cole's teenage son, Miller. I found his chapters particularly refreshing, and the shifts in perspective kept the pace up.

I find that lots of authors use multiple-narrators but cheat - by having them deliberately think in riddles, or exclusively refer to someone as "him". I know this is thriller-101, but it can get annoying. Slater, however, doesn't fall into this trap. We get a clear insight into the minds and motives of all the characters, with enough held back to intrigue, without irritating. This, I think, is a mark of Slater's experience.

Final moments

I can't speak much about the ending without spoiling it - but I will just say I was satisfactorily surprised with the twist, and I raced through the final third of the book to find out what was in store for Jennifer and Sara.

A particular strength in the book for me was the fact that Jennifer really influences the plot. She is not the naive cheated-on wife to whom the plot is happening. As the story unravels she seizes opportunities and has real agency.

Get it in your headphones

An immediate Audible purchase, I would say. The Girlfriend is as twisty and thrilling as you would hope a K.L. Slater story would be, and would make a great read over the Halloween weekend.

With nineteen novels and two million copies sold, I'm sure Slater doesn't need my praise, but I'm glad to heap it upon her anyway!

  • Find it on Amazon here

I was given a free advanced-reader copy of this book, in exchange for a review.

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