By Ekta R. Garg
May 6, 2020
Genre: Psychological thriller
Release date: April 28, 2020
Rated: Borrow it / 3 stars
A single mother desperate to find a new home jumps at the chance to live in a high-end apartment. Afterward, however, unexplained circumstances make her second-guess her decision. Author K.L. Slater tries to dial up the mystery but misses the mark in The Apartment.
Freya Miller needs a new house. Her husband’s infidelity and then sudden death leave her on a tight budget, and she knows she’ll have to move out of the only home her five-year-old daughter, Skye, has ever known. It seems like the worst position to be in: not being able to afford a new place within a reasonable distance to Skye’s school but also not being able to stay.
When she meets the charming Dr. Michael Marsden in a coffee shop holding fliers for a flat for rent, she thinks it might be a solution. Dr. Marsden insists she and Skye will be the perfect fit for Adder House, but Freya’s worried about the cost. The building sits in one of London’s swanky neighborhoods, the kind of place she doesn’t even see on her daily commute.
When Dr. Marsden tells her how much she’ll actually pay, she knows she can’t let go of the opportunity. After all, as Dr. Marsden explains in an apologetic tone, no telling how many people will vie for the place. Better to sign the lease immediately.
Freya visits the flat and agrees. Within a week, she and Skye are set to move across town. Skye is skeptical, but Freya believes this is the fresh start she’s needed since her husband’s betrayal. Once they arrive at Adder House, though, Freya begins to understand Skye’s skepticism.
Her moving expenses are paid for, Skye is showered with expensive gifts, and the tedious commute to Skye’s old school means moving to the new one in the neighborhood. It’s one of the best in the city, and before Freya can blink the Marsdens get Skye admitted. It’s one thing to be showered with so much unexpected kindness, but Freya is having a hard time understanding why the Marsdens would go out of their way for her.
Then there are the other happenings. Skye insists she heard a child crying, even though Dr. Marsden says Skye is the only child in the building. Freya walks into the flat to discover that a security camera has been installed without her consent. And the other tenants either aren’t around or give Freya goosebumps.
Freya begins to wonder whether the stress of her life is making her go mad. At the same time, Skye’s spirit is waning and the Marsdens are acting even weirder. Now, the dream apartment that Freya couldn’t turn down looks like the place she can’t escape.
Author K.L. Slater does an admirable job of building the mood of the book. Adder House sounds elegant and well built—just the kind of place that forebodes disaster. Within the genre, an upscale London neighborhood is practically begging for creepy affairs.
Slater gives Freya some agency, a welcome change. When asked about allowing a security camera in her apartment, Freya declines. When it shows up anyway, she doesn’t hesitate to take it down and complain about it. Unlike other books where the protagonist just shrugs and accepts strange twists in his/her life, Freya fights back when circumstances don’t make sense.
Unfortunately her disturbed emotional state clouds her judgment. While it’s understandable, the bad choices Freya makes allow for the book to tread predictable paths. If readers can’t guess some plot points, they won’t necessarily be surprised either.
Slater tries to give readers clues through the diary of a secondary character, but the introduction of the diary and that character’s back story come so late in the book that they don’t have the intended impact. The climax and resolution, then, just sound a little off-the-wall. Two characters who seem to have been plotting against Freya suddenly fawn all over her, and readers will find it hard to buy their about-face.
Still, the book is entertaining. Anyone looking for a fast read might like this one. I recommend readers Borrow The Apartment.