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.
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.