The Vacancy by Elisabeth Carpenter #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new thriller by Elisabeth Carpenter, The Vacancy.


Running from her past, Rachel answers an advert to be a live-in assistant to glamorous and eccentric author Dorothy Winters. But behind the closed doors of Dorothy’s house, she quickly discovers that nothing is as it seems.

When Dorothy’s manuscript throws up striking similarities to events in Rachel’s own life, she becomes convinced that the past she’s tried to hide is catching up with her.

Then the phone calls start. The parcel arrives. The blood shows up in the bathroom.

And Dorothy’s friend disappears.

Terrified of being blamed for murder, Rachel has nobody left to turn to.

Because who can she believe when she doesn’t even trust herself…?


The Vacancy is a tense, highly intriguing new thriller by Elisabeth Carpenter which, to me, felt very fresh. We meet Rachel who answers a job application for live-in assistant to famous writer, Dorothy Winters. Rachel is bowled over when she receives the news that she has got the job. Dorothy is a complex character, but Rachel soon settles into her new life. Soon, strange things start happening and Rachel begins to wonder what is going on here and what sort of person Dorothy Winters really is.

I was fascinated by Rachel. When she arrives at Dorothy’s, we can see that she is doing this to make a new start in her life. Something has happened to her. I wanted to know what it was that had happened in her past and what secrets she was keeping. Elisabeth Carpenter gradually reveals what this is, and the true picture of Rachel begins to emerge. I was intrigued by Dorothy as well. Dorothy was a successful author in the 90s and is working on a new manuscript which Rachel is having to type. As Rachel begins to type Dorothy’s chapters, she realises that the story she’s working on bears a haunting similarity to events which have happened in her own life. Coincidence?

I loved Rachel’s voice which drew me into the story. It felt as though someone is watching Rachel as she settles into her new life. There are snippets throughout the book where it appears as though someone is spying and recording what she is doing. It kept the tension ticking up a notch as I wondered if this was the case. Who could be following her? As Rachel gets to know her new employer she starts snooping around her house, to try and find out more about her. I thought this was a very bold move of Rachel to make and it made me wonder what she might potentially find out about Dorothy. What would happen if Dorothy found out what she was doing?

Elisabeth Carpenter begins to reveal what is really going on here and there was one twist which floored me. I thought it was very clever and it gives the book such a haunting feeling as we draw closer to the end; I thought the ending was very satisfying.

Elisabeth Carpenter has written an another utterly addictive psychological thriller with real emotional depth and the tension keeps you turning the pages. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 5th August 2021

Print length: 432 pages

The Vacancy is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

Only A Mother by Elisabeth Carpenter blog tour #bookreview @LibbyCPT @orionbooks

Only a Mother by [Carpenter, Libby]


Erica Wright hasn’t needed to scrub ‘MURDERER’ off her house in over a year. Life is almost quiet again. Then her son, Craig, is released from prison, and she knows the quiet is going to be broken.
Erica has always believed Craig was innocent – despite the lies she told for him years ago – but when he arrives home, she notices the changes in him. She doesn’t recognise her son anymore.
So, when another girl goes missing, she starts to question everything. But how can a mother turn her back on her son? And, if she won’t, then how far will she go to protect him?


Having read Elisabeth Carpenter’s first two novels, I have to say that I think her latest Only A Mother is her best yet. In all three of her books, she has managed to create well rounded and intriguing characters that pull you in from the first page. They all feel like very real people, and I have always become invested in their lives.

We meet Erica who is preparing for her son’s release from prison, seventeen years after he was convicted for killing a young girl. He was also linked to the murder of another young woman, but not enough evidence could be found to charge him. Journalist Luke is desperate to find that evidence linking him to the second girl’s death, but what if all is not as it seems? Just how far will Erica go to protect her son?

Erica was a character who I really felt sorry for as I was reading this book. I could definitely understand her need to want to protect son, even though he committed such a heinous act and her love for him came across very strongly in her character, although it did seem a lot of the time as though she still thought of him as the young, gentle boy she once knew him as. She is also very much a victim herself as the people of the town she lives in swiftly turned against her after her son’s arrest.

Elisabeth constantly surprised me with her plot which was unpredictable and very twisty. I still haven’t forgotten the twist in her first novel 99 Red Balloons, and the twist in her latest blew me away again. It is devastating, and it only made me care for her characters even more. But as to what exactly happens I shall remain tight-lipped on that subject.

Only A Mother is a novel which was done in a very clever way. It is absolutely addictive, and it will make you re-examine everything that you thought you already knew about the story and the characters. At its core it makes you think about a powerful question that will haunt any reader who is a parent themselves.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 27th December 2018

Print length: 352 pages

If you would like to purchase Only A Mother, you can do so by clicking on the following links below.

Amazon UK  Waterstones WH Smith


Only a Mother Blog Tour