DiscoverPsychological Thriller

To Be Known

By

Not for me 😔

To Be Known had a great premise, but ultimately fell short. Wordiness confuses the plot and takes the reader out of the story.

Synopsis

YOUR DEMONS KNOW YOU WON'T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THEM

Edward Doyle has spent his life building his career. Now, recently laid off and in search of work and direction, he returns from the chaotic, impersonal city to his hometown, a small, tight-knit village in the English countryside, where he is welcomed by the current owners of his childhood cottage, a young couple, Peter and Emily Sutton, and their three-year-old daughter, Lizbeth.

Community. Tradition. Family. Life is perfect here…or is it?

What begins as a pleasant visit soon takes a sinister turn, as Edward realizes that the cottage harbors a dark past. Not only that, but the Suttons—and perhaps even himself—also have secrets buried in their own closets. Some they will battle in their minds. Some they may confront in the flesh…but at what cost?

The more Edward discovers, the more his assumptions are challenged. Secrets cannot stay hidden forever. As the story builds toward its unforgettable, shocking climax, discover which ones are dying to be known…

To Be Known takes readers through a couple different plots and a few different time periods, but primarily follows Edward Doyle – a thirtysomething who has recently been laid off from his New York tech job. Seeking a fresh start on familiar turf, he returns to his English hometown where he joyously reconnects with his childhood crush, Emily Sutton, now a married woman with a three-year-old girl named Lizbeth.


After Edward is invited to stay with the Suttons, he saves their daughter from what would have been a tragic accident. Emotional complications arise that disrupt the dynamics of the Sutton household. But that’s not all. There’s something unsettling about Lizbeth’s imaginary friend, Walter. And someone – or something – with malicious intent is watching all of them…


My take: Holy nostalgia, Batman! I’m all for cozy descriptions and reminiscences of idyllic times, but Field’s story takes these things to another level. It seems as though the first half of the book is just the characters pining for simpler times. I suppose that’s intentional as it reflects their dissatisfaction with adulthood, but it seems excessive.


There are also several instances of lengthy, convoluted sentences that I found myself rereading several times only to determine that they either did not make much sense or they were entirely superfluous. About two-thirds of the way through the novel, Field bizarrely rehashes events that have already occurred – verbatim in large chunks. A few new details are thrown in amongst this self-plagiarism, so really the purpose behind this section of the book is to show how the story arc is being tied together. However, it just struck me as tedious.


The characters are average. With all the aforementioned reminiscing they frequently come across as whiny or self-pitying (even though it’s supposed to be the opposite). Emily Sutton is a good mother and a kind woman, but at the end of the day she’s really just in need of rescuing. As the story goes on, she ends up making dubious life choices which gives her even less appeal. Edward is wishy washy and constantly critical of himself. A little humility is charming, but this guy is perpetually down on himself to the point of annoyance. He is also somehow the remedy to Emily’s unfulfilling life, until he suddenly isn’t.


There were some redeeming aspects, though. It’s always appreciated when writers, especially in thriller/horror genres, are able to effectively foreshadow events early in the story that end up coming full circle in the end. Field does this with relative success, making the plot progression feel decently crafted. On the other hand, the climax and conclusion could have been greatly pared down; it was all I could do to not breeze through to the very end.


This book held a lot of promise. The twist was not as “twisty” as I’d hoped, but I didn’t entirely guess it, either. As a work, To Be Known is like a piece of raw ore: lots of unnecessary and detracting surrounding material with glimmers of precious content throughout. Unfortunately the precious glimmers were not enough to save the story for me.


Reviewed by

I'm a teacher and book lover. Books have always played an important role in my life, and since I was young I quickly figured out that nothing is ever so bad that it can't be made (even slightly) better by reading. I'm probably best described as first and foremost a horror/thriller junkie.

Synopsis

YOUR DEMONS KNOW YOU WON'T TELL ANYONE ABOUT THEM

Edward Doyle has spent his life building his career. Now, recently laid off and in search of work and direction, he returns from the chaotic, impersonal city to his hometown, a small, tight-knit village in the English countryside, where he is welcomed by the current owners of his childhood cottage, a young couple, Peter and Emily Sutton, and their three-year-old daughter, Lizbeth.

Community. Tradition. Family. Life is perfect here…or is it?

What begins as a pleasant visit soon takes a sinister turn, as Edward realizes that the cottage harbors a dark past. Not only that, but the Suttons—and perhaps even himself—also have secrets buried in their own closets. Some they will battle in their minds. Some they may confront in the flesh…but at what cost?

The more Edward discovers, the more his assumptions are challenged. Secrets cannot stay hidden forever. As the story builds toward its unforgettable, shocking climax, discover which ones are dying to be known…

Prologue


24 December

The Last Day

 

“Livie, dear, it’s time for your bath,” young Lizbeth Sutton reminded her dolly as she combed its hair. The three-year-old had just set out a change of clothes for Livie: comfy pajamas and slippers. Lizbeth had received the doll for her birthday, and though she loved all her dolls, this was her favorite. She loved its blue dress.

Lizbeth sat on the floor beside her bed in the middle of the cute, irregularly shaped bedroom. Her little toes, snug in warm socks, comfortably dug into the softness of the holly-and-ivy-patterned rug her mum had brought out for the holidays.

She had recently finished breakfast. Mummy was preparing mince pies. She didn’t know where Daddy went; he had left long before, and his truck wasn’t home. “And after your bath, you’ll need to take a nap. It’s Christmas Eve, and we have a party tonight.”

“Have I ever told you about my last Christmas Eve?” asked Walter.

“I don’t believe so,” Lizbeth said to her “imaginary” friend behind the solid, half-round wooden closet door. The deep enclosure, a unique feature to the cozy cottage she lived in, was one of Lizbeth’s favorite places to play—so much, in fact, that she designated it her “castle” and resigned all her clothes to the dresser. She often played with toys and stuffed animals here, or redesigned the area into a kitchen, or the great outdoors with a sleeping bag and flashlight.

A space once designed merely for storage now well fostered the child’s imagination. Perhaps many children’s imaginations…

“Tell me,” the girl asked of Walter.

“Every home has a story—many stories, actually,” Walter began. “You don’t see them, and many times you don’t know them, but they live in the walls, they live in the floors. And they can never leave because they are a part of the house. They have no purpose elsewhere.

“When I was a boy,” Walter reminisced as Lizbeth casually continued brushing Livie’s hair, “we had many wonderful holidays. We ate figgy pudding and sat by the fire. I loved the smell of it. But then something bad happened.”

“What?” asked Lizbeth.

There was a pause.

Walter beckoned. “Open the door.”

Ever curious, Lizbeth put her dolly down and approached the closet. Her soft, small hand reached for the sturdy knob and twisted it. With a click, the door slightly shifted as the latch bolt separated from the strike plate. Lizbeth opened the door fully, allowing the light to invade the empty but well-festooned closet. Inside she had hung some stockings, holiday decorations, and pictures she had drawn of Father Christmas. The little girl smiled; her dolls and stuffed toys looked so comfortable in the pleasant abode she had created for them. “That’s better,” she said.

Lizbeth turned but stopped at Walter’s startling, raspy response. “I’d like to ask you something: Would you like to see me?”

About the author

Hello! My name is Justin Field. Ever since I was a child, I've loved writing. I'm happy to share with you my debut novel, "To Be Known." I especially love suspense and thrillers, anything that keeps me on the edge of my seat and thinking. I live in Washington with my wife and two children. view profile

Published on November 13, 2020

100000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Reviewed by

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