Purely coincidental: Disclaimer by Renee Knight


Any resemblance to persons living or dead … The disclaimer has a neat, red line through it. A message she failed to notice when she opened the book.

Suspense is hard to do. In reading it I find myself feeling an author is luring me, against my will perhaps, to a revelation that will ultimately be disappointing. But in Disclaimer I was propelled, rather than lured, by my own curiosity. The novel opens almost mid-revelation. Catherine is gripped by nausea, driven to waves of vomiting and panic by a novel. In the pages that follow it becomes clear that she has kept a secret, from her husband and her son, for 20 years that now could be revealed. By a novel, written by a complete stranger.

Knight constructs her story admirably, so delicate is her stitching in the seams of the various versions of events that I didn’t realise I was being set up for a big reveal until it was upon me. In fact, once I was there I found it all a little difficult to believe. Her character, Catherine, is left alone on holiday with her son Nick when her husband has to return to work in London. While there she has a chance encounter with Jonathon, who drowns in the deceptive currents of a pristine tourist beach.  A fictionalised version of that meeting appears in the pages of a novel, unmistakeable, horrifying, and threatens to tear her life apart, that threatens her son’s life. But the novel has some facts very, very wrong.

I enjoyed this one. It was a quick and engaging read, wonderfully paced. Though some false notes emerged towards the end, Knight kept her story on track through some tough subject matter bravely. This one comes with a trigger warning. But well worth a read.

Disclaimer, Renee Knight: four stars.

Read it when: you think nothing will surprise you any more.

About Rachel Watts

I am a writer from Perth, Western Australia. My speculative fiction novella Survival will be released in early 2018. View all posts by Rachel Watts

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