So Close (2023)
Book by Sylvia Day
It is not a scientific fact but I will swear that it is after my recent experience. A person can get a mental concussion just from the sheer, blunt trauma power from something they view on television or read electronically or in print. Certainly it has happened to me as I completed reviewing Sylvia Day’s latest literary psycho-sexual chiller So Close, to be unveiled in March of 2023 as the first entry in a planned duology. I seem to be feeling the equivalent of nausea and sheer inability to focus my vision and thoughts on a pure psychological level by being unable to concentrate on anything but the events of her novel and the characters involved.
The story, about a wealthy family heading a pharmaceutical corporation and the president’s paralyzing obsession for his late wife Lily that becomes a trigger for murder and family dysfunction when a dead ringer for the decedent re-enters his life. Is it really his long-lost beloved? Is there a con game? Or is it something much more disturbing and far-reaching that is at play?
For this story, Day opts to use the structure for each chapter in either a first or second person point of view. In the latter, all when it pertains to Lily, it is done similar to relaying aloud as if from a journal to Kane. It is a bit of a challenge for the reader who may be conditioned for the standard third person style but it pays off in the long run as it allows whomever is reading to feel like they are living in the mindset of the character. We get to know their motivations, feelings and emotions even beyond the word on page.
Another plus is that Day refuses to accede to the ordinary when creating the players in this unfolding drama. Those veteran literary suspense fans looking for a familiar tic or trope to latch on to had best save their energy. There really are scant to none to be had. Kane, Witte, Amy, Lily, Aliyah and company are fully fleshed out types who could actually be living next door to you…..if you reside next to penthouses on New York’s Park Avenue or that sprawling mansion in the Hamptons.
Thematically, the author goes to great lengths to defy the conventional. Or, at least, she is decidedly dissatisfied with staying in one area for the duration. So Close starts with the feel of a printed soap opera replete with familial dysfunction, usage of sex as a way to a means, threads of double-dealing and back-stabbing amongst the devious one percent. Then it steers into a stark examination of psychological demons like obsession (a real allusion to Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca permeates the air throughout the events), jealousy and even self-loathing. Finally, just when you feel the slightest hint of settled in, she punches you in the face with an element of the horrific that would make Stephen King squirm a bit in his Barcalounger.
As this tale is the beginning of a two-parter, it should be underscored that the action here does not wrap quite as neatly as it will in the finale and some may find it leaving them hanging in a sense. I felt Day does well to offer a finality to one leg of the journey while keeping the remaining elements open-ended
While it is most praise-worthy that the writer makes the central roles in this word theater powerful women in the business world, it should be of equally positive notation that she imbues them with heavy, in a way near-fatal, flaws that plague general humanity from time to time. If an air of feminism is felt developing in this work (which is debatable as the characters, male and female, seem on level with their frayed wiring), Day works to anchor it with realism as well.
As mentioned above So Close, published by Ronin House, is part one of a duology that will have it’s National One-Day Laydown (catchy public relations lingo for Book Launch Day, I’d think) on March 28, 2023 and will be available wherever books are sold. The conclusion, Too Far, is coming this October 24th and preorder is available wherever books are sold.