A Flash of Red by Sarah K. Stephens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Not having noticed the warning signs, Anna now saw that she had become embalmed in her carefully constructed life."
A Flash of Red is a thriller about the perils that some marriages face, the difficulty of letting go of the past, and the harsh reality of mental illnesses. As a professor of Psychology, Anna Kline has devoted her life to teaching about mental illnesses and disorders. To her students, her life seems picture-perfect. However, behind the scenes she's harboring some difficult secrets--about her past, about her family, and, most of all, about her marriage.
When one of her students, Bard, learns about some of the realities she's harboring, their lives become intertwined. As the plot progresses, Anna and Bard must come to terms with their realities and with the notion that life isn't always what it seems.
I thought the psychological aspects of this novel were really well-written. I found myself constantly questioning whether or not I could trust each character. The depth of the relationships was also noteworthy. I liked that Stephens focused on the idea that marriage isn't always perfect. The behind-the-scenes look at a marriage in the midst of destruction was deep and thought-provoking. I liked the internal glimpse at both parties in a relationship about to detonate.
The tension was slowly built in the novel, which simmered over the course of the beginning of the story. At first, I was anxious for the pace to pick up; however, once it did, I realized how the slow simmer actually enhanced the events of the story and made the payoff greater.
The only thing I disliked was the ending simply because I could not agree with how it all turned out. However, everyone has their own opinion, and I can relish the fact that the ending did make me think and feel. This is the true mark of a well-crafted novel, regardless of whether or not you morally agree with what happened.
This is an excellent debut novel, and I look forward to reading more works by the very talented Sarah K. Stephens.
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