Review: When She Returned by Lucinda Berry - .Red Wine & Books

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Review: When She Returned by Lucinda Berry


Print Length: 293 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 15, 2019)

From Goodreads.com:  Kate Bennett vanished from a parking lot eleven years ago, leaving behind her husband and young daughter. When she shows up at a Montana gas station, clutching an infant and screaming for help, investigators believe she may have been abducted by a cult.

Kate’s return flips her family’s world upside down—her husband is remarried, and her daughter barely remembers her. Kate herself doesn’t look or act like she did before.

While the family tries to help Kate reintegrate into society, they discover truths they’ve been hiding from each other about their own relationships. But they aren’t the only ones with secrets. As the family unravels what happened to Kate, a series of shocking revelations shows that Kate’s return is more sinister than any of them could have imagined.

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My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This story had an interesting premise, and got off to a very strong start. Unfortunately, I don't feel as though it ever lived up to the potential of what it could have been. 

For starters, the characters not only all felt very one dimensional, but (with the exception of Meredith) did not act in any logical manner at all. Missing for over a decade (and showing signs of torture), it was understandable at first why Kate acted the way that she did. What wasn't understandable (nor forgivable)  was the way Scott and Abbi refused to see what was right in front of them, allowing Kate to drive a wedge not only between them, but between them and Meredith as well. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that even when presented with proof that Kate was sneaking phone calls and lying about it, Scott still took her side over Meredith's. Shouldn't he have been the least bit concerned? Especially knowing that she left of her own free will and had been in love with the cult leader? 

I was also more than a little confused about Kate's motivations throughout the book (especially the ending which felt more than a little rushed). I understand that at first she was taken in by the cult and fell in love with the leader, but as things went on she began to see more and more than he was unhinged. However, it took him threatening to take their infant daughter into the woods alone with him to get her to leave, only to run right back into his clutches when her daughter (who really should have known better) shows her a photo of the man on her cell phone? And speaking of phones, why did she act like she had been taken before their invention? I get that she was secluded for years with her cult, but that still wouldn't have meant that she had no idea what they were. She had used one before she left for crying out loud. 

Expanding more upon the ending, Kate suddenly not only rejoins the cult, but tries to offer up Abbi (her teenage daughter) to them in exchange for forgiveness? I couldn't wrap my mind around that sort of behavior brainwashed or not. Coupled with the fact that the cult leader was bailed out by his mother and was rich? What the heck? How was he bailed out despite the charges facing him? It just didn't make sense (but as someone else pointed out did leave it open if the author wanted to pursue a sequel down the road focusing on Roy attempting to get revenge on Scott and Abbi).

Despite these flaws in the plot, the story moved at a decent pace and the writing was good enough that I finished the book in about 2 days because I wanted to see what came next. So I would give this author another chance. 

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                                                                      When She Returned is available from Amazon.com
                                                                    (for free if your subscribe to Kindle Unlimited)

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