BEFORE: Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed. AFTER: Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most. NOW: Edie or Heather? Heather or Edie?
Psychological thrillers are just up my street, so Watching Edie was an instant hit from the first page. Like many novels of its ilk, it splits between present-day events and flashes back to earlier ones to tease out the story’s climax out.
Single-mum-to-be Edie has a lot on her mind. Knocked up by a married man who isn’t aware of her situation, she’s alone and terrified. When the doorbell rings one day, she opens the door to find someone she never would have expected – her old friend Heather, who always had a somewhat star-struck attitude when it came to popular girl Edie. But a traumatic event ripped them apart when they were children – and for Heather to come back into Edie’s life now both unsettles and worries her.
Right now, however, Edie has a lot more to worry about – the baby growing inside her. And when she finally gives birth and becomes a new mother, she doesn’t exactly take to it. Slumping into a post-natal depression and helplessness slump, she’s almost grateful when Heather turns back up at the small council flat she’s living in to help her. Without many people to turn to – Edie’s neighbours are unfriendly and unwelcoming, and she hasn’t got a boyfriend – she lets Heather take over, bathing and bottle-feeding the baby, Maya, whilst she is unable to take on her maternal responsibilities.
As we watch Heather start to develop an almost unhealthy relationship with Edie’s baby, we see how she did exactly the same thing with Edie when they first met as children. Suffering from an oppressive childhood, enforced by her strict parents, Heather is obsessed with cool-girl Edie. The pair become close, but when Edie gets a new boyfriend, their friendship begins to go downhill, and a horrible event one day makes them both grow up far too fast.
Back in the present day, their new friendship is going downhill all over again. As Edie starts to recover from her post-natal depression, she realises how much of a hold Heather has on her life again – and Maya. Feeling claustrophobic from Heather’s things left all around their flat and unable to find her phone to get in contact with anyone else, Evie begins to feel more and more shut off from the outside world. Even her once-unfriendly neighbour has started to notice how much Heather has been around. As the warning signs become stronger and stronger, Edie wonders how she can regain control and force Heather out of her life again.
But things aren’t always as they seem – and as Edie attempts to extricate herself from Heather’s grip, a horrible truth from their friendship starts to emerge – and forces Edie to re-examine what happened all those years ago…
A brilliantly plotted, sublimely written and haunting read, Watching Edie will send chills down your spine.
Many thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the review copy.