Substitute by Susi Holliday #bookreview

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

BLURB

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…

MY THOUGHTS

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

The Last Resort by Susi Holliday #bookreview #blogtour @SJIHolliday @FMcMAssociates

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest thriller by Susi Holliday, The Last Resort. Susi Holliday is also taking part in this month’s First Monday Crime on, Monday, 7th December. I’ll have the details of how you can access the link at the bottom of this post.

The Last Resort by [Susi Holliday]

BLURB

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One perfect crime.

When Amelia is invited to an all-expenses-paid retreat on a private island, the mysterious offer is too good to refuse. Along with six other strangers, she’s told they’re here to test a brand-new product for Timeo Technologies. But the guests’ excitement soon turns to terror when the real reason for their summons becomes clear.

Each guest has a guilty secret. And when they’re all forced to wear a memory-tracking device that reveals their dark and shameful deeds to their fellow guests, there’s no hiding from the past. This is no luxury retreat—it’s a trap they can’t get out of.

As the clock counts down to the lavish end-of-day party they’ve been promised, injuries and in-fighting split the group. But with no escape from the island—or the other guests’ most shocking secrets—Amelia begins to suspect that her only hope for survival is to be the last one standing. Can she confront her own dark past to uncover the truth—before it’s too late to get out?

MY THOUGHTS

I’ve really enjoyed Susi Holliday’s previous novels. However, her latest book, The Last Resort, is quite different to what she has written recently. With echoes of And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, this is a highly entertaining, creepy psychological thriller that will keep you gripped.

A group of strangers arrive on a private island after being selected to review a new luxury retreat before anyone else. They are all different to each other, ranging from social media influencers, gossip columnists to a gamer and a photographer. Their backgrounds are all intriguing, but when they first arrive on the Island, it becomes clear all not quite what they seem. Each one of them is hiding something dreadful about their past. But what are they all really doing together on the Island? They quickly begin to realise as well that they may also be in incredible danger.

What I thought was really creative about this book was the use of future technologies. What immediately strikes the group that something odd is going on here, is when some of these technologies, are able to tell them what they have got up to in the past. This also includes the bad things which some of them would much rather stay hidden. This immediately sets the group on edge, and the tension begins to grow. They have no idea who is behind this and what their purpose is.

The sci-fi edge is what made it feel quite different from previous books I’ve recently read in this genre. I do like a novel which blends genres. It made me think that anything could happen to the group while they were on the island. The Last Resort wasn’t a predictable read at all, and I was excited to see how things were going to pan out. No one in the group is particularly likeable, but I have always been a fan of books with unlikeable characters. It makes the book more of a tense read, and you’re not quite sure how the characters will interact with each other. This is especially when the secrets of their past are revealed.

Susi Holliday creates a creepy, atmospheric setting. You get a real sense that the group are trapped there. They are totally at the mercy of whoever is pulling the strings. I liked how Susi Holliday wrapped everything up. It is a book that will really make you think, and I wanted to know what was really going on here behind the scenes. If I ever receive an exclusive invitation like the members of the group received, I think I’ll be politely declining and running as far as I can.

I really enjoyed this book. Susi Holliday’s writing kept me gripped right the way through. If you’re looking for a fun read which you could quite happily lose a couple of hours to, then definitely pick up this book.

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

Publication date: 1st December 2020

Print length: 299 pages

The Last Resort is available to buy:

Amazon UK

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

The Last Resort - blog tour

FIRST MONDAY CRIME

If you’d like to tune into this month’s First Monday Crime, you can do so via their Facebook page by clicking here. The event will be live streamed. The authors appearing this month are, Susi Holliday, author of The Last Resort, Sam Carrington author of The Open House, A.K. Turner author of Body Language and Deborah Masson author of Out for Blood. The event begins at 19.30 p.m on Monday, 7th December 2020.