When I say that ‘The Fear’ is C.L. Taylor’s best book so far, that’s no disrespect to her previous novels, which have rightly earned her bestseller status and an army of adoring fans.
But for my money, ‘The Fear’ is a class apart. This is the story of Lou, who was groomed by a man called Mike at the age of 14. It’s also the story of Chloe, who is Mike’s latest teenage target and who the adult Lou is determined to rescue from his clutches, whatever it takes.
The story is told from various perspectives. There’s Lou as a child and as an adult. There’s Mike’s ex-wife, who blames Lou for the breakup of her marriage. And there’s Chloe, struggling with low self-esteem and flattered by the attention the older man lavishes on her.
Taylor takes us into the mind of a vulnerable 14 year old with heart-wrenching accuracy. And she shows us what life can be like for survivors of sexual abuse – desperate to put the past behind them but forced to relive the trauma, blamed for what happened to them by people unwilling or unable to face the truth or driven by a desire for revenge on the abuser who robbed them of their childhood
This isn’t an easy read. But it is a highly addictive one. The narrative voices are convincing throughout and the plot has enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most demanding crime reader. There are shades of 'The Collector’ by John Fowles, but with a feminist twist. But the style and tone are unmistakably Taylor’s own. I can’t wait for her next book.