Substitute by Susi Holliday #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping new thriller by Susi Holliday, Substitute.


Three people live. Three people die. You make the choice.

Like any mother, Chrissie wants to protect her family. She would do anything to keep them safe. So when a mysterious stranger turns up at her door, offering to prevent the deaths of the people she loves, it sounds too good to be true. The only problem: she must choose someone to die in their place. A substitute.

When her daughter Holly has a terrible accident, Chrissie has no option but to enter the programme. In that horrifying moment, she would do anything to save her. But even after Holly makes a miraculous recovery, Chrissie is convinced it’s just a coincidence. After all, who can really control the laws of life and death?

But as the dangers to her family escalate and her chosen substitutes begin to disappear, Chrissie finds herself in an underworld of hidden laboratories and secretive doctors. And the consequences of playing by their rules are far deadlier than she ever imagined…


What if you could save your loved ones from dying? We all wish we could have a magic button that would automatically save the people we love. In Susi Holliday’s new novel, Substitute, she explores just that, and it is a thoroughly entertaining, clever story. But it isn’t quite as straightforward as just saving someone you love. For you to save them, you must choose someone to die in their place.

Substitute is a highly engaging thriller which blends with science fiction so well. We meet Chrissie, who is still grieving for her mother who died several years earlier. Although her husband can’t seem to understand why she is still getting upset. She is approached by a stranger who asks if she would like to take part in a new programme. She doesn’t take this proposition all that seriously at first and eventually signs up, thinking it’s all just hypothetical. But it becomes clear that Chrissie wasn’t just randomly selected to take part. There is something far darker going on behind the scenes here.

Susi Holliday’s premise is such an interesting one. It had me thinking, what would I do if I was in Chrissie’s position. Would I be able to decide who lives and who dies so I can protect the ones I love? It did make me wonder if perhaps there is something similar in development somewhere around the world and that thought gave me chills. Given everything that’s happened in the past year, it doesn’t seem quite outside the realms of possibility anymore.

I loved the two different strands in this story. As we meet Chrissie in the present, we are also taken back to 1980 where we meet two scientists, Edward, and Michael. They are in the process of developing something extraordinary which Michael believes will benefit the world hugely.

I loved how Susi Holliday gradually revealed more about her characters and I could begin to see why they were involved in what was happening here. It is so cleverly put together. There are some tense scenes as we begin to understand why Chrissie has been selected to take part in this programme. It made for such gripping reading and the last line right at the end gave me chills.

This is my favourite book by Susi to date and I flew through it. If you love a mix of science fiction and a psychological thriller then this is the book for you. I highly, highly recommend it!

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 12th August 2021

Print length: 317 pages

Substitute is available to buy:

Amazon UK

2 thoughts on “Substitute by Susi Holliday #bookreview

Comments are closed.