A Review of HUNTING ANNABELLE by Wendy Heard

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HUNTING ANNABELLE is Wendy Heard’s debut mystery/psychological thriller novel. It will be published on December 25th 2018 by MIRA Books.

 Twenty-something year old Sean Suh is a deeply disturbed man. He suffers from schizophrenia and hallucinations, he murdered his teenage girlfriend years ago, and he has recently been released from a stint in a psychiatric prison. As far as Sean is concerned, he’s done with killing. He’s also mostly done with people. Sean spends his days at the Four Corners amusement park in Austin, Texas, where he observes and sketches people, but does not interact. Then he meets Annabelle… Annabelle may be the one person who can see past the monster to the man. But then Sean witnesses Annabelle being kidnapped. Thanks to his mental illness and past homicide conviction, Sean soon becomes the number one suspect in Annabelle’s disappearance. Sean is the only person who knows he didn’t do anything to Annabelle… Or did he do something, but can’t remember? The closer Sean gets to finding Annabelle, the more of his inner demons he has to confront and release.

 HUNTING ANNABELLE is deeply disturbing, creepy, and chilling novel. Heard’s story is very original, and the ending threw me for a loop. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout the novel. The narrative is told from Sean’s first person perspective, and it is written in the present tense. Sean is an extremely unreliable narrator, and this makes the first person, present tense even more compelling. The reader gets to witness the events as they play out and experiences everything right along with Sean. The thing is, with Sean being so unreliable, is that the reader can never know if Sean’s narrative is the truth or just his version of it. Either way, Sean takes the reader on a very wild ride through the mid-1980s in Austin, Texas. Sean starts out as the bad guy – he’s a murderer. But he’s also a sympathetic character, and he becomes more so as the story progresses. Yes, Sean is a villain. But he’s not necessarily THE villain.

 Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC.