Book Review: Don't Turn Around by Amanda Brooke

Don't Turn Around by Amanda Brooke
Release Date: 24th January 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 416
ISBN: 978-0008219185
Buy: Paperback | eBook | Audiobook

She died.  

You’re next.  

Now he’s coming for you.  

Ten years ago, Jen’s cousin Meg killed herself after failing to escape an abusive relationship.
Now, Meg’s ex is back and Jen’s domestic abuse helpline has started getting frightening calls from a girl who knows things about Meg – details that only the dead girl or the man who hurt her could have known…
As Jen starts to uncover the past, someone is determined to stop her. Can she save this young woman from Meg’s fate? Or is history about to repeat itself?

Jen is still understandably struggling to come to terms with the grief over losing her cousin and best friend, Meg, to suicide ten years ago...As are Meg's parents Geoff and Ruth who lost their only daughter.
What makes Meg's death all the more heart breaking is the abusive relationship she was in with her boyfriend, Lewis, which her family believe drove her to commit suicide all those years ago. No one quite knows exactly what went on between the two - and there was never enough evidence to prove Lewis was responsible for what happened, but as time goes on Jen, Geoff and Ruth begin to uncover more and more details about the time leading up to Meg's death.
In order to help girls who find themselves in similar situations to Meg, Geoff and Ruth have set up a domestic abuse helpline, but with a drop in the volume of calls the future of the helpline doesn't look good...Until Ruth begins a promotional campaign to raise awareness of the service they offer, which ties in with the tenth anniversary of Meg's death. However, they get a lot more than they bargained for when the campaign ends up catching the attention of none other than Lewis. He is the last person any of them want back in their lives, and when they find out he is back living in Liverpool the family have mixed emotions. Whilst Jen and Ruth feel a growing sense of unease, they also want answers...
It is then no coincidence when the helpline starts to receive nuisance calls. But that isn't all - when Jen receives a call from someone who she fears is connected to Lewis who needs help she knows that she has to act fast before another innocent girl befalls the same fate as Meg...

A new Amanda Brooke novel always equals MAJOR excitement for me. I love her style of writing and her characters and storylines always end up completely captivating me.
Don't Turn Around was no different. I was drawn in right from the very exciting, yet tense, yet scary prologue and I found myself physically unable to put this novel down until I had reached the final page.
Jen and Ruth are our main narrators and I really enjoyed reading the story from each of their perspectives. Through Jen's chapters we get to see the impact of losing not only her cousin, but her best friend. As we experience flash backs throughout the story we get to see Meg changing before our very eyes as her relationship with Lewis progresses.
It was also fascinating and heart breaking to experience the story from Ruth's point of view. She has regrets over not talking to Meg more and it is only as she is looking back that she starts to realise how withdrawn and unhappy her daughter had become. She will do anything to, in her head, make amends for what happened with Meg, which includes getting way more involved than she should with other women who reach out to the helpline when they find themselves in difficult situations. But I can completely understand why she did what she did. It was also upsetting to see the impact that the Meg's death had on Ruth and Geoff's marriage. Geoff is now keen to retire from the architect business that they run, which would include the closure of the helpline - but Ruth isn't about to let that happen.

Lewis was a character who both fascinated me, intrigued me and also did a great job at scaring me. Amanda was brilliant at building him up to be this evil, domineering, women-hating man (he was now working as a personal trainer, which Jen believed to be the perfect outlet for his love of shouting abuse at people...) But as quick as I was to form my opinion of Lewis, I was also quick to form my opinion of Meg. I built her up in my head as a damsel in distress who was constantly controlled by Lewis, but as I reached the half way point of the novel, certain things that happened made me question if that was the case. I'm not saying any more as you'll just have to read this for yourself to find out if my inklings were correct, or if, as usual, they were way out...
I also liked some of the secondary characters; particularly Gemma, and reading about the difficulties she was experiencing was horrifying. You couldn't help but make comparisons to what Meg had been going through, and I completely understood why Ruth and Jen felt the need that they did to personally protect this girl and stop her from falling into the same trap that Meg did...And then with the introduction of 'Ellie' things begin to reach a whole new level and once again I couldn't help but wonder if things were really as they seemed...

 It's a bold claim but Don't Turn Around is my new favourite Amanda Brooke novel - and possibly one of her best yet. I don't say this lightly as all of her novels are absolutely amazing, but this one just had that something extra special for me. I felt so involved with the storyline, the characters, the subject matter. I couldn't wait to get to the bottom of what has really been going on and Amanda is an excellent writer at keeping you guessing. She drip feeds you just enough information in order for you to make your own opinion - but it's not always necessarily the correct one.
Amanda is also brilliant at portraying family drama. The tensions, the struggles, the strained relationships -it's all completely relatable yet gloriously gripping.

If you're looking for a proper page-turner that you can get your teeth into then look no further than Don't Turn Around. Smart, addictive and highly unnerving, it's well worth losing a weekend to...
A huge thank you to publishers, HarperCollins, for the opportunity to review.


  1. I just won a copy of this book. Your review has made me even more excited to read it. I haven't read any books by this author yet. Don't Turn Around sounds like a great one to start with.
    Amanda xx

    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Amanda! X