He never intended to be a jailer … After years of travelling, responsible to no-one but himself, Steve has resolved to settle down. He gets a job, buys a house and persuades Liesel to move in with him. Life’s perfect, until Liesel delivers her if he won’t agree to start a family, she’ll have to leave. He can’t bear to lose her, but how can he face the prospect of fatherhood when he has no idea what being a father means? If he could somehow make her stay, he wouldn’t have to choose … and it would be a shame not to make use of the cellar. Will this be the solution to his problems, or the catalyst for his own unravelling? ------ Underneath is the second novel from author Anne Goodwin, following the success of her debut Sugar and Snails in 2015, (critically acclaimed and shortlisted for the Polari Prize) .
Anne Goodwin’s drive to understand what makes people tick led to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.
Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.
A prize-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.
Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of award-winning short stories.
This was a truly unique read with a very dark premise. Steve and Liesel are both odd characters that have a very strange relationship, one of the weirdest that I have ever come across. It was fascinating in the same way that watching a train wreck is and I was gripped throughout this book.
The structure of this was distinct in that it was broken up into six parts instead of a bunch of chapters. Each one began with a brief scene where someone is locked in a cellar and this addition added a real sense of menace to an already dark tale. It starts when Steve and Liesel meet and follows as their relationship quickly develops into something serious. Things unravel as quickly as they began when she flips the relationship on it’s head and decides that she does want children after all, something that they both had previously been vehemently against. The consequences of this decision are life changing for both of them and watching the events play out was quite the experience.
This was a quick read as once I started, I was well and genuinely drawn in and hooked. Both Steve and Liesel were well formed characters, but Steve even more so as there were parts that flashbacked to his disturbing childhood. There was a really clever twist that shocked me and ramped up the intensity as well and this was an overall really absorbing read.
40 year old hospital theatre orderly Steve, has spent the last 20 years travelling the world. After a substantial win on the lottery, he decides that it is now the right time to settle down in one place.
When he meets Liesel by a chance encounter, in the hospital canteen, it is love at first sight. During their first meeting, Steve asks a surprised Liesel to go house hunting with him.
Whilst viewing a property that they thought was okay, the deal clincher is that it has a cellar hidden away. Steve purchases the house, telling Liesel that she can move in with him.
This is the start of their relationship. Both have ambitions in life, and neither wants children. That is until Liesel meets her friend’s baby and becomes broody. With Steve unwilling to budge in his thoughts about having a child, Liesel gives him an ultimatum. Change his mind by Easter, or she will leave him. This forces Steve to take drastic action.
I got to the end of ‘Underneath’ and questioned everything that I had read. This is a twisted dark psychological book, one that does play with your mind and has you wanting to know more. Unfortunately, it played that well that I got to the end and hadn’t a clue what had gone on.
It is written in the first person, Steve’s point of view. What I presumed he had shown us happened in parts, turned out often not to be the case. Then we have the back and forth to his childhood that is written without warned, just a jump from the present to the past, and back again.
The main characters are both deeply damaged by past events in their life, and both had very unusual personalities. I really couldn’t warm to either of them, or any of the other characters in the book if I’m being honest. Their relationship had ‘doomed’ written all over it from their first meeting.
The book isn’t split into chapters, but rather six long sections, each opening with a page of Steve’s thoughts regarding someone he has locked in the cellar, though we are left to wonder who. We do get to know that it is a woman.
I just didn’t get it. I think this is the first time I have ever finished a book and gone, ‘what on earth happened’. There either wasn’t enough information to process what was truly happening, or there was too much information, which in turn obscured what was really going on.
When I was offered an advanced copy of 'Underneath' to read and review, I was immediately struck by the book's gorgeous cover and the intriguing blurb, and I couldn't wait to start reading it.
Having spent two decades travelling round the world, Steve decides to return to the UK and settle down. He meets Liesel at work and the two start a relationship. Liesel makes it clear from the beginning that she's not the maternal type and so kids were not an option. Steve couldn't be happier with this arrangement and their relationship progresses quite normally. They buy a house which includes a cellar Steve intends to decorate and put to good use.
However it is evident that both Liesel and Steve are damaged individuals, having had unhappy childhoods which have marked their lives. We have frequent flashbacks of Steve's childhood when he was bullied and had his life dominated by his twin elder sisters.
One day out of the blue Liesel tells Steve that she changed her mind about kids, she wants to become a mother. Steve is taken by surprise by this but he decides he wouldn't budge. When Liesel gives him an ultimatum by which he has to decide if he wants to build a family with her or not, or she would leave, Steve decides to take matters into his own hands...
Okay, this is difficult, so please bear with me. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to enjoy this book, I ended up actually hating almost everything about it. First of all, the general feeling and atmosphere of the story is very dull and depressing. The overall plot pace is slow and lacking any exciting OMG moments, cliffhangers or mind-blowing twists. The few twists I came across were actually quite confusing.
Rather than being divided into individual chapters, the book is split into six long parts, and this is another thing that frustrated me. The story continuously jumps back and forth in time, and with no proper interruption between different timelines (just a double line spacing) I found this quite confusing.
This is the first book I've ever read where I practically detested every single character. I can't say there was at least one whom I cared for or related to and found them all boring and hateful. Okay, Steve had a tough childhood, so that's a given he would be affected, but the way he behaves, I thought he's just nuts thinking only with what he has between his legs most of the time. Liesel is a woman that is happy to have an abortion without a second thought one day, then desperate to have a baby, the next.
I was about to give up halfway through the book as the story was going nowhere, but at that point I came across a 'twist', so I decided to persevere. Not that it did much good. The last part was even more confusing than the rest of the book. I didn't understand the last part of the book at all, so not quite sure what happens at the end.
I'm sorry about this, but although having such a great premise, it's evident that this book was not for me. I hate writing negative book reviews and thankfully I rarely need to do it, however as a reviewer I have to give my opinion and be honest and frank. But maybe it's just me being dumb or losing the whole plot. I'm sure other readers will enjoy it much more than I did.
With my apologies and thanks to the author for an ARC of this book which I voluntarily accepted to read and review.
Underneath is a psychological thriller that goes to some pretty dark places and I loved the sense of foreboding that builds up. We know from the very beginning that Steve will end up using his cellar as a kind of jail and the journey leading him to do so kept me enthralled. I liked the depiction of his burgeoning relationship with Liesel who is a great character and, even though the story is told from Steve's perspective, I felt I ended up knowing her even better than him. The flashbacks to Steve childhood add depth and helped me to understand his later actions. Goodwin does a good job of presenting a child's understanding the world as he sees it and of his interpretation of traumatic events. These vintage scenes particularly appealed to my imagination. I also enjoyed the family dynamic, dysfunctional as it was, but with, I think, universally recognisable sibling rivalries and allegiances.
Underneath is a slow burn so might not appeal to readers who prefer an action thriller, but I really liked the detailed and thoughtful approach. Goodwin takes her time in revealing Steve's truth and, for me, this worked well.
*Thank you to the author, Anne Goodwin, for sending me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
I read and reviewed Anne Goodwin’s debut novel Sugar and Snails and enjoyed it. When she contacted me about this thriller, and I love thrillers, I was excited to give it a shot.
We follow the first-person point of view of Steve, a man who buys a house and tries to get his life in order. He meets Liesel and they hit it off right away. She moves in with him and together they decide how they should use the cellar. The cellar is used for a few reasons as Steve tries to fix it up. It isn’t until Liesel gives him an ultimatum: They have kids together or she leaves, that Steve decides to use the cellar as Liesel’s own “home.” He doesn’t want kids, but he doesn’t want to lose Liesel.
It’s an interesting premise for a story and I was intrigued by it. However, it was pretty slow-going in the beginning. Nothing really happened until 150 pages into the story and, at that point, there were only about 100 pages left. Still, we did get flashbacks into Steve’s childhood which showcased how he grew up without a father and potentially why he never wants to be a father himself.
The characters were developed well. I felt for both Liesel and Steve and their own inner problems. Liesel wanted kids after her career didn’t work out and Steve just wanted a simple life with the girl of his dreams and it took a sudden turn for the worst.
Liesel was a go-getter from the beginning. When she decided she wanted something, she went for it as best as she could. This included Steve, her career, and then wanting kids. I loved that about her, but since we were in Steve’s head, I knew that Liesel could do better than him. Still, they had a cute relationship with one another.
To be honest, I couldn’t relate to Steve that well. I didn’t care for him as a character, even though he was the main protagonist and antagonist. I sympathized with him for his childhood, but that was about it. There was just something about him that turned me off from him.
The story is told to us in parts as opposed to chapters, which isn’t a bad thing. However, there were no timestamps or dates to indicate where we were and when. Time jumps were used an extra space in between paragraphs and flashbacks had a page break, but that was it. This made it a little confusing to read, but the author does write well regardless.
This was a good read, but I do wish the timeline was a little clearer and I felt more for Steve. Still, it was interesting, especially the ending. It makes you wonder what actually happened and whether your interpretation of the book was real or not. In that sense, it was cleverly written.
“You’ve got to be prepared to fight for what you believe in.” –Anne Goodwin, Underneath
*This review was originally published on RachelPoli.com*
After travelling for years around the world Steve decides it's time to find his own place to call home. Together with his new found friend Liesel, he finds a perfect house with a beautiful cellar. Liesel and Steve have quite different ideas about how the cellar should be used.
Everything moves along quite smoothly at the beginning of the book. Steve and Liesel seem like pretty normal people and their relationship develops well. How could anything go wrong? Well, it does, and there are flashes of the situation throughout the book to tease the reader. It explains the what, but not the how, so you can't help but keep reading.
My favourite sections of the book were the flashbacks to Steve's childhood and his interactions with his family as an adult. They cover some pivotal moments in his life; some important and shocking, and others that helped shape him as a person more subtly. From each it was his emotional experience of the events that was significant; helping to build a picture of how his adult life turned out the way it did.
The ending left me questioning what I thought I knew about Steve. Was my interpretation of everything right? I don't know, but I'd like to think so.
Setting: Nottingham, UK; modern day. Having travelled the world, Steve has returned to the UK and, having just had a lottery win, decides to settle down and buy a house. As Steve narrates his story, he is overjoyed that his burgeoning relationship with the delightful Liesel has resulted in her helping him to choose a house and them move in with him - initially as a lodger but later as a partner. All is going well until Liesel, initially opposed to having children (which is in accord with Steve's own wishes), decides she wants to have a baby - and gives Steve an ultimatum: change your mind about having children or Liesel will move out. Steve thinks that, whichever way it goes, Liesel is going to be changed and not be the same person that he adores - so he starts to consider alternative uses for the cellar room that they have loving converted to a love-nest, i.e. perhaps he could keep Liesel captive there until she changes her mind!..... Steve has clearly been severely affected by his childhood, episodes of which we are treated to during the course of the story. As the younger sibling to older twin sisters, and without a father, Steve is at his sisters' mercy - and they make his childhood a complete misery. His sisters believed that he was his mother's favourite but now his mother is suffering from dementia and doesn't even recognise him, although she does seem to recognise his sisters. All of this has placed a burden on Steve, which he is unable to come to terms with, hence the 'shift' in his attitude towards other people, and Liesel in particular. This is not the best novel I have ever written although it was a bit different to the norm. However, the characters didn't really come alive for me too much, nor the setting which would appear to be Nottingham. It's also a shame that the proofreaders/editors didn't spot that the author had a wildlife documentary on gorillas being presented by Richard Attenborough, rather than David! Still a reasonably good read - 7/10.
By any reckoning, Steve should be happy - he's finally decided to settle down after spending most of his adult life travelling the world; he's won enough on the lottery to buy a nice house; he's got a new attractive girlfriend who's willing to move in with him. How could it all go wrong? But somehow it has, because the reader knows from the outset that Steve has a woman imprisoned in his cellar ...
It sounds rather like the set-up for a psychological thriller or domestic noir full of improbable emotions and outrageous violence, but Anne Goodwin's Underneath couldn't be further away from those stereo-types. Instead it's a quiet novel that gradually unpicks the past to discover what lies behind the facade that Steve presents to the world. The story is told in the first person from Steve's viewpoint, and so the reader is privy to his current thoughts and hopes, and his flashbacks to childhood, a time which should have been full of love and happiness, but wasn't. On a superficial acquaintance, Steve is an average guy, perhaps a little more interesting than some even because he's spent most of his life travelling the world, working in undeveloped countries, not sitting at an office desk, but behind that facade he's a troubled man, permanently damaged by his upbringing. His father died before Steve was born, and, with a mother consumed by grief, and older twin sisters who bullied him throughout childhood, Steve's childhood lacked the love and kindness that most of us take for granted. Obviously drawing on her experience as a clinical psychologist, Anne Goodwin takes what could have been a dry case study and builds it into a compelling read.
It's a novel I'd highly recommend for Book Clubs. there's much to discuss about Steve's life and his relationship with women - is his travelling part of an un-rooted feeling? is he permanently searching for home? is his girlfriend unreasonable in her demands, and would they have lived happily ever after if she hadn't been?
I really enjoyed Anne Goodwin's amazing debut, Sugar and Snails, so I was eager to see what Anne had written next. Firstly, I have to say that the cover of Underneath is fabulous - it's so dark with a little glimmer of light under the earth, giving us a little hint of what we can expect inside. Whereas Sugar and Snails was heartrending and emotional, if I had to describe Underneath in one word it would be DARK. As different from Sugar and Snails as chalk and cheese, Anne Goodwin turns to the dark side in her new novel, Underneath.
Steve and Liesel have a rather strange meeting in the canteen at work when Liesel mistakes Steve for someone else. The pair hit it off immediately, and although traditionally men do the chasing I felt like Liesel was firmly in the driving seat from the offset. We find out quite quickly that Liesel doesn't want children and Steve is more than happy about that...we perhaps understand the reason for this through several flashbacks to Steve's childhood. When Steve starts house-hunting he is drawn to one with a particular feature: a cellar. Liesel doesn't seem that keen on moving in with Steve and when he reveals his obsession with the cellar the alarm bells weren't just ringing they were playing RUNAWAY!
I've read my fair share of twisty psychological thrillers, so I know things are never what they seem. When I was reading passages about someone being locked in the cellar, I wondered who it was. Liesel seemed far too streetwise to find herself in that predicament but then I didn't know what was going on in Steve's mind. After reading about his younger self it was clear how very damaged and twisted he was from an early age, not helped by all the mind games being played by his twin sisters. The more I read about Steve, the more I disliked, or rather detested him and it is through the intensity of Anne's writing that these emotions were stirred up in me.
Dark, twisted and compelling, Underneath is filled with tension and intrigue. I found it so intriguing that I read it in a few days but I feel a little bit on the fence with this one. I enjoyed most of it and felt like we really got to see inside Steve's head, however uncomfortable that was at times, but I was left feeling slightly unfulfilled and with a bit of a question mark at the end. I wasn't sure what was real and what was in Steve's head, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, I just have to dust off my imagination and make up my own mind.
I chose to read to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.
UNDERNEATH by Anne Goodwin is a dark and twisted psychological thriller that is sure to give you the chills.
In this story, we meet Steve and Liesel who are unusual characters with an unusual relationship but it appears to be working for them. They are happy together and agree that children are not an option. But when Liesel changes her mind and throws down an ultimatum, Steve takes matters into his own hands because he will not allow her to just walk out of his life...
The story is broken up into distinct parts instead of chapters which really suited the slower pace of this story. None of the characters are likeable but they are compelling and you cannot help getting caught up in their story - especially when we discover their damaged pasts.
There were some twists and turns, a few of which made me stop and question just exactly what was going on, and throughout this story, a disturbing and dark atmosphere was ever-present making UNDERNEATH by Anne Goodwin a solid thriller.
A real page-turner for me. Steve and Liesel meet and fall in love and all seems great. Neither want children and Liesel is happy to move in with Steve to the house he's bought with lottery winnings. A house with a cellar. This novel is disturbing and chilling, dealing with two damaged people who should never have got together. A gripping tale and beautifully written.
I loved the sound of the blurb for this book and had enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s previous novel, Sugar and Snails, so I was looking forward to reading Underneath. I think the blurb is brilliant and it really drew me into this book and had me eager to read it. As the reader, already knowing the cellar is going to be put to more sinister use made every mention of the word intriguing and because we already have an idea of what is to come, I raced through this book in anticipation of everything unravelling. I read this book with a sense of foreboding that the author delivered beautifully. There was always that apprehension and a feeling that something bad was going to happen, and this had me glued to my Kindle, my day lost in this menacing novel.
Steve and Liesel are in the early stages of their fast-moving relationship. Liesel has moved in, something which Steve had planned for and hoped for. He is quite obsessed with her, always thinking about her, jealous when she mentions other people, but there is a chemistry and fire in their relationship which they both find addictive. But one day, Liesel has something else on her mind. She wants a baby. She’s determined they’d make good parents and she’s already worked out when she’s most fertile. She hasn’t even considered that Steve doesn’t want to be a dad, but when he makes that clear to her, she threatens to leave him. Steve only knows one way to get her to stay…
Steve was a messed up character and I found him utterly fascinating. He has an obsessive personality and everything he seems to say or think has twisted layers to it and because of that, he was really compelling and engaging. From very early on in the book he had me engrossed, waiting in suspense to see what was to come from him. We get insights into his family and his childhood which give us more of an impression of why he is the person he is, but regardless of anything we learn about him, he always made my skin crawl. He was absolutely vile whether that was due to his upbringing, his mental health or otherwise. His family life was a strange one. I was just as interested learning about his sisters and his mother than I was him and Liesel. Whilst this book is told from Steve’s perspective, this didn’t prevent me from getting to know the other main characters too, and I found hearing about them through Steve’s viewpoint made me see the characters in a different way and question everybody’s motives more.
Personally I preferred the first half of this book more than the second. There was something about the way the author gradually builds up the tension that had me gripped by the book from page one to the level I couldn’t bring myself to put it down because I was desperate to know what was going to happen next and see how the tension would be stepped up. But when that moment comes, the one I had been waiting for, what followed didn’t have that same edge to me. I still liked trying to work out what would happen next, but the tension felt a bit lacking and parts became a bit confusing. I couldn’t always work out what was happening and the ending left me baffled.
Underneath is a real slowburner that well draws upon dysfunctional families and the implications they can have on the rest of your life. I particularly enjoyed looking back upon Steve’s childhood and some of the things he went through. It’s almost as if the author is testing the reader into seeing whether we can find any sympathy for a man who is so very twisted, and though I could see how traumatic some of his childhood was, I didn’t find any sympathy for him in the end. Whilst this is an engaging psychological thriller, I felt at times it could have been made to be even more thrilling, although the author does nail the psychological part as the characters’ actions and their mental health were very interesting and thought-provoking. This is a book that I have definitely found difficult to get off my mind.
This was such an interesting read, particularly as almost from the outset, I had formed an idea of what Steve was going to do to keep his relationship with Liesel intact and then found that the story turned out to be far from predictable. It is so skilfully written that the reader doesn't notice the misdirections and then has to challenge their own assumptions. We are given a tapestry of episodes from Steve's life and I loved the changes in time with flashbacks to his childhood, which gradually revealed the truth. I must admit that even at the end, I was thinking my way through the story, a small part of me unsure. This is a book which I keep mulling over - did I get it right?
The story is told from Steve's perspective. Everything about his childhood seems to have been dysfunctional and his relationships with his parents and wider family are complex. Here, Anne's professional knowledge comes into its own and attachment issues are shown to be an intrinsic part of Steve's personality and actions. In showing us what made Steve, Anne is able to give us a reason to understand and have some empathy for a what in reality is a fairly unpleasant individual.
In short: Intelligent, insightful writing which takes you beneath the surface of life in many, many ways.
Thanks to Anne Goodwin and the publisher, Inspired Quill for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour.
The idea wasn't bad but, disappointingly the execution was poor and I just couldn't get into it. The characters are very irritating, particularly Liesel, the author tries so hard to make her 'quirky' that it just comes over as punchable.
I think generally, unless you experienced a difficult upbringing, you probably shouldn't try writing characters damaged by one, never mind trying to write two or more in one book. The parts dealing with the respective childhood are trite and don't ring true.
The first half has way too much banal, pointless detail about coffee saucers and not enough detail about things that might have improved the story. The second half is just ridiculous. The ending is predictable.
This book really did leave an indelible impression. It’s claustrophobic and unsettling, complex and rather uncomfortable to read – and I really relished every moment of the experience. The room in the cellar – initially a retreat from the world over a Christmas of an unexpected new relationship, later something totally different – haunted my thoughts as I read, and for a considerable time thereafter.
The depths of this book and its characters didn’t surprise me, but I did find them engrossing – the extent to which past experience can be both reason and excuse for what happens thereafter. Although his actions are extreme – and shocking – Steve presents as a fascinating character and presence, “normal” on the outside (and wholly real and recognisable) but inwardly damaged and twisted, and a highly distinctive voice. And as for Liesel – she constantly draws your eye, her actions and reactions wholly bizarre, her persona compelling.
I’m not a genre reader, but in a world where people need to put books in appropriately shaped boxes I’m really not sure where this book sits. It’s certainly not a romance – although at times it might lull you into believing it is, albeit a highly unusual one – and it’s not a conventional psychological thriller, although I think it maybe sits most comfortably in that category. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea though – the pace is slow, but I thought it perfect in the way that increased the impact of the unexpected twists and turns of the story. What I can say though is that the writing is of the highest quality and readability – although the content at times makes it a less easy read – and the complexity of both character development and the story itself totally compelling. Try it, see what you think – “enjoyed” is totally the wrong word, but this was certainly a book I won’t forget in a hurry.
Underneath is a book with a very dark premise although it wasn’t as predictable as it might have been from the blurb. Although we are introduced to the darker reveal of a woman trapped downstairs in the cellar right from the very first chapter, we are left to ponder this as the book takes a more meandering, flash-back approach to the story. We learn all about Steve and his relationship with the flighty Liesel for a good 60% of the book – the origins and their ups and downs. This was a great way to give us character development and as a result the characters are well-rounded and we get a deep insight into their personalities and feelings. There are also quite a few twists including an major assumption which is shattered by a huge turn of events later in the plot (no spoilers!)
My main criticism with the book was that Steve and Liesel are completely unlikable. Steve in particular is very oddly written; he obsesses about a character that Liesel makes up and only ever mentions once and he is supposed to be very into travel but we don’t really hear very much of his experiences. There were also some really cringey parts in relation to sex, if I read the phrase ‘my prick tingled’ one more time I was going to throw my kindle out of a window! Steve also references a woman’s mood in terms of ‘her time of the month’ and there’s also a rather derogatory description of someone who may have downs syndrome at one point. It’s hard to tell how much of this is deliberate to make Steve unlikeable and how much is the authors writing style (or what the author thinks a male character would feel) but I haven’t read anything by Ms Goodwin before so I can’t really tell. The flash-back chapters about Steve’s past were interesting although I felt they were a little repetitive in places and there were some events where it was not particularly clear what had happened.
Liesel started out as a character I enjoyed and had sympathy for - she’s a free spirit who has no intention of settling down or having children. I was with her for most of the story until her personality takes a mad swing half way through where she doesn’t get a job she wanted and spirals down from there. This seemed so at odds with the woman we were presented with at first that I had a hard time adapting to the 180 shift. She also then seems to hate Steve whenever she sees him again as if he’s done something terrible to her but this isn’t really explained. As the whole point of Steve’s character progression is to show someone on the slip into madness and his personality also changes it felt like too much of a similar shift with not enough pay-out. If she had stayed as a nicer character who just wanted to help Steve for example, we would get the juxtaposition of him going off the rails with her. With no-one to root for throughout the plot you are kind of left not really feeling too invested in the story.
Overall, I enjoyed the progression of the plot showing Steve’s decline into insanity and some of the crazy choices he made which are nicely balanced with some childhood flash-backs to illustrate how he became who he is today. However, I did feel in some places the language used was a bit cringe-worthy, it was needlessly repetitive in places and with no-one to root for you were left feeling a little lost as the reader. Thank you to Anne Goodwin and Inspired Quill for the copy of Underneath in exchange for an honest review.
Thos was one of the worst books i have ever read. Of i could have given it a minus one i would have. Ms Goodwin you should do us all a favour and stop writing. I pride myself on the fact that i give every book a solid chance of redeeming itself ny the end of the story. Yours did not. As a matter of fact yours reeked from beginning to end and that ending was so bad that it made me angry thst i had given you hours of my life that i will never get back Go back to your day job. For all you avid readers out there do not waste your time on this horrible book
A gripping tale in which the protagonist gradually unravels - leading to chilling consequences. The characterisation is very well done and the setting comes alive. Although not technically a thriller, it hooks the reader in at the start and keeps you guessing with each twist and turn.
Gripping, dark and disturbing, but ultimately redemptive.
The book’s first person narrator makes it clear from the first page that he’s holding a woman in his basement. The rest of the book shows us how he got to that point, not only in his current actions but also in his disturbed and disturbing family history. I never came to like the narrator, but I did reluctantly come to understand him. A tense and creepy read.
Very strange book - don't think i entirely "got it" to be honest!!! Kept feeling something epic was going to happen but it didn't!!! Had to read to the end but was very disappointed. Think the author might be on hallucinatory drugs?
Underneath is a literary, psychological suspense that closely inspects the life of Steve and the issues he has surrounding family. Coming into a relationship with Liesel, a woman who did not want a child and eventually changes her mind, Steve cannot comprehend the thought of fatherhood and losing everything good that they have together. With Liesel’s final ultimatum, Steve must find a way to keep her by his side in a desperate attempt not to lose the one thing he holds dear to himself.
I had extremely high hopes for this novel. You always hear stories of people who keep families or people locked up in their basements with neighbours, close friends, and the authorities none the wiser. I was interested in finding out why he locked someone up in his cellar and how the novel itself was resolved. However, I was immediately thrown into a narrative that felt like it had no direction and was forced.
Liesel and Steve meet at lunchtime during a break in Steve’s shift at the hospital. From that moment Liesel integrates herself into his life by helping Steve to view properties following his lottery win. I felt like their was no build up to their relationship and the way that it developed. Within pages they were in a loving relationship having sex in every room available and living together in the house that Steve brought. For the majority of the novel I couldn’t see any evident direction that could suggest the cellar becoming a prison for another character but found myself reading about trivial, mundane events where Liesel and Steve had arguments and then after hours of them both stewing over their emotions they would make up with sex. Their relationship felt strained and there was a lot of push and pull, especially on Liesel’s part which made sense considering their both had familial issues with both missing a parent from their younger years – which seemed to be the major theme of this novel.
There was a lot of confusion on my part with this novel regarding dialogue and movements. I couldn’t get to grips with the characters train of thought and how they managed to get from one scene to another and I frequently found myself getting bored at these moments. Furthermore, there were scenes interspersed throughout the novel that portrayed events, presumably, from Steve’s childhood which I also couldn’t comprehend. I couldn’t see any clear connection to the events taking place and the names and events just confused me all the more. When the novel did finally get to the imprisonment within the cellar, there was also that confusion due to scenes such as this and it felt like Steve was living in a dream or was high or something as different scenarios, presumably in his head, merged together.
I can see where Goodwin was getting with this novel and why Steve did what he did. I just felt like the build up and actually getting to that moment was too mundane, boring, and slow in pace. I would have been far more interested if the writing itself was more coherent and straight forward in its lineage of events from the present and if the relationship between Liesel and Steve had had some time to build up and become more believable and genuine.