I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: HarperAudio (April 12, 2022)
Length: 10 hrs and 9 mins
Narrator: Sarah Durham
Sarah Pinborough has certainly found her niche when it comes to twisty, blow-your-mind thrillers. Speaking as someone who often struggles with trouble sleeping and knowing how much it messes with your brain, I admit the premise of the author’s latest novel Insomnia intrigued me. From the synopsis, it’s clear she’s taken the concept to a whole other level—a frightening one.
In Insomnia, we follow protagonist Emma Averall, an ambitious working mom of two busy making her way up the corporate ladder at a high-powered law firm while her husband stays at home and raises the kids. It’s an arrangement everyone has been happy with, that is until recently, as Emma’s fortieth birthday approaches. That was the same age when her mother lost her mind, and something so heinous happened that Emma and her older sister Phoebe had to go into foster care. Emma was only five at the time.
Now Emma is terrified that what afflicted her mother will come for her as well. And the fact that lately she can’t sleep is adding to her worries. As the insomnia worsens, Emma also starts losing time during the day, putting her career and all that she’s worked so hard for at risk. Above all, she’s done everything in her power to put the past behind her, but try as she might, she just can’t keep her childhood horrors from coming back.
And that’s all I’ll say, because Sarah Pinborough’s books are always best enjoyed the less you know going in. As usual, she’s brilliant at writing unreliable narrators, and Emma is a testament to that. Anyone with a busy lifestyle will find her sympathetic; a successful lawyer trying to juggle long hours at work and still spend quality time at home with her husband and children, what our protagonist is doing is the very definition of burning the candle at both ends. She loves her family and cares for those around her, which just worsens her fear. It was disconcerting to watch this successful, well put together woman just start coming apart at the seams. Slowly going insane. Or is she? It was such a trip, not knowing which way this story was going to go.
That’s where things get fun. Because the truth is, it’s hard to see anything in this book coming. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, something else would happen to blow all my theories apart. It was overwhelming, but at the same time, it wasn’t. I was simply having a great time watching and anticipating what came next. It was the perfect combination of suspense and strangeness—and this being a Pinborough novel, you know there will be strangeness. If this is your first rodeo with her thrillers, just hang on tight and go with it. In the end, it’s easy to get sucked in.
Eventually, you’ll get to the big reveal. The big twist, or the WTF ending. You may need to suspend your disbelief, but again that’s par for the course. I’ve read crazier from the author (Behind Her Eyes, anyone?) but this one was pretty wild too in its own way. I liked it, though I can also understand why it wouldn’t work for everyone, because it’s a bit over-the-top.
At the end of the day though, I had a blast with Insomnia, as I knew I would because Sarah Pinborough’s thrillers never fail to disappoint. If I need to read something entertaining, fast-moving and addictive, her books always deliver, and in audio format, they are even better. Sarah Durham was fantastic as narrator for the audiobook edition of Insomnia, impressing me with a performance that kept me riveted from beginning to end.