Safe as Houses

The Christmas Carol Book Tag

We’re almost halfway through blogmas so thought it was time for a Christmassy book tag. The Christmas Carol Book Tag was created by Lauren Wade on YouTube and I saw it over on Jess’s blog, Jessticulates. I read A Christmas Carol when I was in school, but when I think of the story, it’s the film Muppet’s Christmas Carol that always comes to mind.

The Ghost of Christmas Past – A book that was a childhood favourite
Love Street by Andrew Matthews
I think this is one of the first YA books I read and it was one I reread over and over again. It’s about a teenage girl who makes up her own soap opera in her head to deal with the stresses of friendship and relationship drama.

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Present – A recent book that you think will become one of your all time favourites
The Exact Opposite of Okay by Laura Steven
I read this book at the start of the year and I still think about it. It’s funny and heartfelt and it deals with such tough topics it can be equally infuriating and inspiring.

 

 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – A book coming out next year that you’re most excited about
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
I’m so bad at keeping track of book releases but this in one I know about and will definitely be getting. I don’t particularly like the books title but I’m looking forward to going back into the world of The Hunger Games.

 

 

Bah, Humbug! – A book that everyone else loves that you just can’t stand
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
I do get why people like this book and I did like the writing style but the story just didn’t grab me and I didn’t like the relationship and (albeit very small) hints at romance between the two main characters.

 

 

Bob Cratchit – An old dependable that you always recommend
Luther: The Calling by Neil Cross
This is the prequel book to the first series of the TV show Luther but I still think it’s the kind of book that both fans and non-fans of the TV show would enjoy because it’s such a creepy and tense thriller.

 

 

Tiny Tim – An underhyped book that you think deserves more love
Safe as Houses by Simone can der Vlugt
I read this thriller earlier this year and it gripped me from beginning to end and it definitely deserves to be talked about more.

Today? Why it’s Christmas Day! – What’s a book that always gets you in the mood for Christmas (apart from A Christmas Carol)?
I don’t really read a lot of Christmassy books to be honest, nor do I reread a lot of books, but I do like reading comics and graphic novels on the run up to Christmas because they’re shorter and my brain likes to get in that more chilled out mood as Christmas is a time for relaxing.

The Muppet Christmas Carol – Your favourite film adaptation of a book
The Martian by Andy Weir
Book to film adaptations often get a bad wrap but there are a lot of good ones out there. While an honourable mention has to go The Lord of the Rings, I’m picking The Martian. It’s one of my favourite books of recent years and the film got so much right, the humour, the characters and the heart of the story. Plus, The Martian is just an endlessly rewatchable film.

READ THE WORLD – Netherlands: Safe as Houses by Simone van der Vlugt

Trigger warnings for rape.

Home is supposed the be a safe place, but when a man forces his way into Lisa’s house taking her and her five-year-old daughter Anouk hostage, there’s no where to hide. In the coming days, Lisa will do just about anything to keep her daughter safe, but all the while she wonders why the only witness to her attack has not raised the alarm.

Translated by Michele Hutchison.

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Julia Binns and due to both the narration and the story itself, I flew through this book. Safe as Houses is such a compelling story, there’s no slow set-up, instead within the opening chapters Lisa’s home is invaded by a dangerous criminal. It’s fascinating to see how Lisa tries to relate to Kruger, the escaped criminal who has a twisted mind, in order to try and keep herself and her daughter safe. Numours times Lisa ponders how she would react if she didn’t have Anouk with her and this book truly shows the strength of a mother’s determination.

Kruger is a violent man and he sexually assaults and rapes Lisa, believing she’s interested in him and wants it. She shuts down and can’t say no as she’s terrified of what he might do if she puts up a fight. Those scenes are tough to read (or in my case listen to) and they really made my skin crawl.

The emotions of the different characters are fully realised, and they all act in believable ways. Even five-year-old Anouk is neither too mature for her age nor an inconvenience to the plot. She’s a child that on some level knows that things aren’t good as her mother is hit in front of her and they are forced to sleep in the basement, but she also still wants to do finger paints and play with her dolls. When there’s the more everyday moments between Lisa, Kruger and Anouk, having breakfast together, or watching the TV together, it makes everything feel even more unsettling and on a knifes edge.

Safe as Houses is an incredibly fast-paced story so it’s unfortunate that while the conclusion is thrilling, it also comes to an abrupt stop. It’s the sort of ending where I wish there was an epilogue so you could see how the characters are coping because they went through such horrendous things in order to survive. I just wanted a little more from the conclusion after enjoying the rest of the novel.

Safe as Houses is a gripping thriller that’s often tense and scary. It’s a proper page-turner though not necessarily a thriller that will stick in my mind for a long time. Still, it was a strangely enjoyable read. 4/5.