Book Review: The Follower by Koethi Zan


She'd do anything for her husband...

Julie has the perfect life.

A kind boyfriend, loving parents and good grades. She has everything ahead of her.

Cora's life is a nightmare.

A psychopath for a husband, a violent father and a terrible secret.

But one night their worlds collide.

Locked in an isolated house together, they must work out what has happened - and who they can trust to set them free...



The Follower is a tragically twisted, dark and obsessive tale by Koethi Zan, which follows the abduction of Julie, and the frightening days of captivity that follow that terrifying moment where she is snatched, thrown into the back of a van and driven away to the place that will become her prison. Unsuspecting and oblivious to the danger that lurks, Julie has no idea of where she is and why she is being kept there. All she knows is that it will be near impossible for her loved ones to find her. Not only is she being held captive by a violent and ruthless brute of a man, but also by his wife, a woman afraid of her very own shadow. Julie is determined to find a way out, no matter what the cost. Even if that cost just happens to be her life.

I was surprised to find how swiftly this novel got off to a flying start. There is certainly no hanging about on Zan's half and the abduction takes place pretty much right away. For me, this ensured I was hooked from that moment onwards. From the start, it was sharp, fast-paced, barely giving me time to catch my breath once the unthinkable had happened. If ever there's a way to begin a novel, then this was it. While waiting for her train, unsuspecting Julie is hauled across the empty car-park and into the back of an unknown vehicle, driven by an unknown man. Despite her pleas to be let out, despite the repetitive screams and banging in the hopes of being heard and rescued, it seems no one is going to save Julie from the horror she is soon to encounter. My heart was thumping in my chest at this point. I was absolutely terrified for Julie. The sense of sheer desperation and hopelessness was impossible to ignore. You just can't place yourself in such a shocking situation, can you? You can't actually imagine how absolutely sick with fear you would be at that moment in time, as realisation slowly began to dawn. You would of course think about your family, about the chances of anyone coming to find you and succeeding in doing so. Koethi Zan managed to capture all of these emotions superbly in that moment, and gosh, did it have a physical effect on me. I felt short of breath and my fingernails were digging into my Kindle case with the tension and nerves radiating from the author's descriptions. I wanted nothing more for than for Julie to somehow manage to break free from the back of the van and do a runner. I hoped that she would escape and find herself back in the safety of her own home with her lovely boyfriend beside her. But I knew deep down, as I continued to read, that this would not be the outcome of the abduction. Awful things lay ahead for Julie. Unthinkable things. Being taken by a complete stranger was just the beginning.

Koethi Zan's characters in The Follower were brilliantly crafted and moulded. I think the character who I found most intriguing though was Cora. I really don't want to end up spoiling this novel for other potential readers out there, so I won't go into very much detail here, but as I turned the pages of this book, and the secrets of certain characters' pasts were revealed to me, I couldn't believe what they'd had to endure. Zan takes readers back to the past, unravelling the threads of numerous lives. I was mystified as I sat back and watched how each thread seemed to connect with another, leading us back to the present day. The scenes involving Julie and her captivity in the locked room of the unknown house were terribly, terribly sad. From the food she was given to the physical attacks she endured, Zan really put this character through a hell of a lot while locked away. Time and time again I found myself hoping and praying that Julie would somehow find a way to escape, but I knew as well as Julie did that the hoping and praying was futile. There was an overwhelming sense of despair that remained right the way through this novel. It was suffocating almost, and never seemed to lessen as I progressed, if anything only growing more so.

Throughout reading this book, the path Julie stepped upon was anything but easy or simple. There were so many moments where I could have screamed with frustration at the turn of events thrown in Julie's face. Yelled and screeched and perhaps even cried. Moments where I thought escape was just a breath away which were then yanked from within Julie's grasp in seconds, only for reality to come crashing back down around her. Her attempts remained futile. Her hope and will to survive quickly fading. It was tense, so much so that it had my stomach churning throughout. As Koethi Zan tooks me back and forth between the past and the present, everything began to make sense. I found myself imagining how different life could have turned out for both Julie and Cora if certain things hadn't happened years beforehand. The consequences echoed throughout time like a domino effect. It was shocking.

All in all The Follower by Koethi Zan was a pulse-raising and adrenaline-spiking read about obsession and dark love. I was hooked from the get-go, desperate myself to find a way out of the madness Julie found herself surrounded by. This novel had me on-edge, biting my lip and holding my breath. Compelling, addictive, and purely evil, this is a novel I won't be forgetting in a long time. It's every person's worst nightmare come true.

Hummingbird Reviews is awarding The Follower by Koethi Zan with five out of five stars.

The Follower by Koethi Zan is published on the 23rd of February in eBook and on the 18th of May in paperback by Vintage. You can pre-order your copy here.

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