A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock

Loving a person, while needing to get away from them, was a paradox I couldn't explain. 

Title - A Trick of the Mind
Author - Penny Hancock
Publisher - Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date - 11th September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 285

The blurb

Have you committed a crime... or are you the victim of one? 

Driving down to the cottage in Southwold she's newly inherited from her Aunty May, Ellie senses she is on the edge of something new. The life she's always dreamed of living as a successful artist seems as though it is about to begin. So excited is she that she barely notices when the car bumps against something on the road. 

That evening Ellie hears a news flash on the radio. A man was seriously injured in a hit and run on the very road she was driving down that evening. Then Ellie remembers the thump she heard. Could she have been responsible for putting a man in hospital? Unable to hold the doubts at bay, she decides to visit the victim to lay her mind to rest, little knowing that the consequences of this decision will change her life forever. 

Becca's thoughts 

First off, I'd like to say a massive thank you to the publishers for accepting me for a digital copy via Net Galley, and secondly, an even bigger thank you to the brilliant author Penny Hancock, for working her magic. 

I don't tend to read books like this that often. As you already know, my usual much-loved genre is the lovey-dovey type, where a girl and a boy fall hopelessly, head-over-heels in love with each other. So, whenever I decide that it's time for a switch-up in genre, an incredibly gripping thriller can always do the trick. And thankfully, I found that grip and thrill in A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock. This is the first novel that I have read by the author, and before reading, Penny was not on my radar, but I think its safe to say that I'm extremely keen to add some more of her books to my ever-growing to-read list after diving into A Trick of the Mind, and struggling to come back up to the surface, gasping and spluttering. That is the effect that the words within this title had on me, and without a doubt, this is one of the most all-consuming novels that I have ever read. 

In A Trick of the Mind, we are introduced to Eleanor, or more commonly known as Ellie. As the story begins, Ellie is driving down a lane towards her Aunty May's house beside the sea. The house was left for Ellie by her Aunty when she took her own life, and due to the warm and loving relationship that Ellie felt had been present between herself and her Aunt, Ellie was more than happy to take on the role of home owner. As Ellie drove down that dark, windy lane, her car hit something. Now normally, Ellie would have stopped. The need to stop and check and reassure herself that nothing bad had happened ran through Ellie's veins. She was neurotic, paranoid and completely overwhelmed by the feeling of unease and worry. On that night though, Ellie was leaving not just to stay in her Aunt's home, but to start fresh. She had left her boyfriend Finn, and she was certain that bigger and better things were coming her way, and of course they were, Definitely bigger, but maybe not better. Ellie's life begins to spiral rapidly out of control.

I absolutely loved how Penny hit me with dilemma straight away. There was a little background information, and then all of a sudden, BAM! The danger was there. I didn't see it coming at all, and I was hooked right from the get-go. Penny's writing was just incredible. There was such a fierce intensity behind her words and phrases, and the oppressive atmosphere that seemed to continue the entire way through really had its effect on me. Every word was dark and dangerous, and there was this constant subtle hint that something was going to happen, something frankly quite terrifying. 

Penny's creation of Ellie's character was just superb. I felt like I knew Ellie like one of my closest friends. It was almost as if I knew exactly how her mind worked, the ins and outs. Ever since a child, and for some reason that she cannot remember, Ellie had been compulsive. She'd tap things three times, believing that somehow it would keep her safe. She'd flick a light-switch on and off five times, look over her shoulder twice... The reason for Ellie behaving this way is later revealed to you as the plot progresses, and Penny weaved together the past and the present to ensure that it all made sense to the reader. I could actually feel the freedom that Ellie felt when she was driving down that lane towards her Aunt's house, leaving her boyfriend and her paranoid self behind in the past. It was like Ellie had been a trapped bird, and suddenly, she had been let free. She was free to do whatever she pleased, free to move in whichever directions she wanted to, and it was exhilarating to experience that with her. But as soon as her car took that bump, I knew it was all over. And how right I was. From that moment on, Ellie's compulsive ways swiftly returned and she was right back at square one. It was almost as if the world was out to taunt and haunt her, and everywhere she looked, she was reminded that she should have turned back on that lane when she felt the bump, but instead decided to keep going. 

There was actually a very compelling story behind Aunty May and her little house by the sea, but it isn't revealed until much later on within the plot. There's a whole history behind it, and Ellie has always felt like there's something that has shaped her into her paranoid self, but she has never been able to quite put her finger on it. It's almost like a side-story within the novel itself, revolving around Aunty May and her very goose-bump worthy history. Ellie has always wondered why her Aunt left the house to her. They had always been close, both artistic and capable of completely losing themselves to the stroke of a paintbrush, but still, there was always something nagging at the back of Ellie's mind. 

A Trick of the Mind was a twisting, intense, chilling read that held me absolutely captive. I couldn't believe it when it took a completely unexpected turn, and I actually gasped out loud about a billion times. It was just INCREDIBLE. THIS is the how thrillers should be written. In such a way that they climb right inside your head, crawl beneath your skin, and shake up your world. Who can you trust? What can you believe? I'm sure you won't be sure of your answers to those questions once you're finished with A Trick of the Mind.   

Becca's Books is rating A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock with a glowing rating of five cupcakes. I was unable to tear my thoughts away from the progressing story even when my Kindle was back at home and I was at work. It left me wondering, thinking, keenly wanting to figure out where Penny was going to take Ellie and whether she'd still be in one piece by the time the novel came to an end. It had my heart racing, my skin prickling, and I just couldn't leave it alone. Absolutely fantastic, and what an incredible introduction to Penny Hancock's skills and talents as a writer. Definitely going to keep an eye out for more of the authors books. Definitely. 


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