Hunting Helena by Natalie Carter-Giles first drew me in because of the cover that depicts a young woman, presumably Helena, fleeing for her life through what looks like a cornfield. Exactly who, or what, is she running from?
The book has element of horror, or at least what I consider horrific, but it is really a thriller.
Helena is above all a survivor. For 3 months, two weeks and 5 days she was held captive by a man. He did unforgettable and unforgivable things to Helena, so much so that and while reading I found I couldn’t help but stop at points to absorb the story fully. Of course, Helena found a way to escape, but her abductor is still out there. Eight years later a body is found and DNA shows that he has struck again, so while Helena has physically escaped with her life, she still bears scars.
The narrative does some time jumping. Some of the chapters take you back into the past, before Helena was abducted, and then you understand where she was, what happened after, and so forth. The author is gifted enough to pull this off and use it to keep the reader on the edge of their seat.
Helena wants to help find the man that’s responsible for her abduction and the murder, to get him locked away for good so she and her daughter can truly be safe. Once the questions start as the new investigation progresses, she goes back to visit Deer Lake, her hometown. There are so many important questions and red herrings.
Was her best friend growing up responsible? Did her best friend kill her mother ? And when things do finally unfold there’s an incredible twist and the story comes together perfectly. Helena’s strength is both admirable and realistic. She does not evolve into a perfect superhero character, but evolves as a determined mother and survivor.
The author has crafted a striking novel, one that sticks with you. I could envision Helena’s abductor, smell the mouldy, damp basement. The book played out like a movie in my head, as a well written book always does, and which I love.
I was so engrossed in finding out who was responsible that I had make sure I packed it when I had to take a trip to Corner Brook. Any book I feel a need to devour is always a good book.
The author, who is from Ramea, Newfoundland, sets the book in Deer Lake and for that reason alone I think it will appeal to most readers, but even without that link it is definitely well worth the time to enjoy Hunting Helena.
This is the author’s first book and I can’t wait for more from Carter-Giles.
Ashley’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.