The Escape is a psychological thriller by C.L. Taylor.
The Escape begins with a stranger confronting Jo Blackmore, making threats against her husband and daughter. Jo is terrified and thinks she is being stalked, yet nobody believes her family is danger. Taking matters into her own hands, Jo takes her two year old child and runs.
My mum recommended The Escape to me, saying it was tense and gripping.
I agree; the novel begins immediately with a gripping hook, and I liked the stalker storyline. Taylor’s writing style also brilliantly captured Jo’s fearful and intense paranoia of everything and everyone around her.
However, I was frustrated by how unwilling Jo and, seemingly, everyone around her were to call the police. I know Jo was deeply frightened and therefore hesitant to call – that’s understandable. I don’t understand why every other character also seemed to put off calling the police for the most trivial reasons – meaning the stalking could conveniently continue to advance the plot.
I liked the second half of The Escape more, once Jo is on the run. Pieces of the puzzle began to make sense, and it felt like there was more going on. It was also interesting to see the lengths Jo would go to protect the identity of herself and her daughter.
Jo is definitely the most interesting character in the book. She’s clearly a dedicated mother, yet she struggles to move on from upsetting events in her past, which leaves her vulnerable and fearful for her new family, making the perfect target.
Personally though, I wish the antagonistic characters in The Escape were better developed. The book includes infrequent first-person narration from the mysterious stalker, interrupting the main narrative.
Yet, I don’t think these parts gelled as nicely with the rest of the book because they read like overly angst-filled diary entries, rather than anything scary. I think these sections could have worked better if they were written as intimating letters, perhaps, and sent to Jo’s house instead. This would increase the tension both for Jo and readers, surely.
In short, I wanted the antagonists to be more villainous, which is an odd criticism to make. I just didn’t think they were threatening enough, and could be seen as some fairly disgruntled people simply pretending to be ‘baddies’.
I still liked The Escape, but it didn’t quite tick all the boxes for me.