Owen is a mid-thirties secondary school teacher who has just been suspended for alleged indecent behaviour towards minors. He turns to online chat forums to air out his frustration at how he’s been unfairly treated by society over and over again.
Across the street, the Four family find him creepy. Father Roan, a child psychologist, mother Cate, a physiotherapist, daughter Georgia, and son Josh are worried and suspicious of Owen when their friend is accosted and groped on her way home from their house.
In the shadows, Saffyre Maddox is stalking her old psychologist, Roan, and finds out that he’s been keeping secrets from his family. When she goes missing, Owen is used as a scapegoat due to the accusations being made against him. However, Owen’s not the only person everyone should be weary of.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and Lisa Jewell is quickly becoming one of my favourite thriller authors. I love fast paced novels that have twists and turns throughout, and this book certainly delivered. You know it’s a good mystery novel when you have no idea who you’re meant to be cautious of and who’s safe – Jewell did really well to lure me into a false sense of security several times.
The novel is written in the POV of Saffyre, Cate, and Owen which I really enjoyed and allowed me to empathise with each party. They were the perfect 3 characters to focus on and this was one of the ways Jewell planted that uncertainty. Let’s take Owen for example. Owen was the character with whom I kept switching between sympathy and disgust. Everything Owen did screamed CREEP from his antics at the school, to participating in online “incel” forums (a place for people who are “involuntary celibates”), yet I did not want anything bad to happen to him! If I had heard about Owen in real life, I would be screaming “HIDE YO KIDS, HIDE YO WIFE” and thinking that Georgia’s initial observations of Owen as “totally rapey” were 100% accurate. Yet somehow, the chapters told in Owen’s POV made me do a complete 180 and sympathise with him.
The novel is filled with familial, platonic and romantic relationships. When asked during a therapy session Saffyre identifies that there are two different kinds of love and presents it as a dichotomy; one that “feels like need… like you love someone because they give you what you need” and one that does not, and is “pure“. I really like how this theme is carried throughout the novel and shows itself through each character. The former being clearly present between Cate and Roan, as well as Saffyre and Roan. Each woman feels as though they need Roan to survive as he provided them with security and a shoulder on which they could lean on. Both overlook Roan’s questionable behaviour, something that happens in real life sometimes. The latter description of love is also present in Cate’s emotions towards her children, as well as the relationship that builds with Saffyre and Josh. The two take to one another quite quickly and I loved how pure and non-judgmental their relationship was from the very start. I also absolutely loved the fox! Both Josh and Saffyre were attracted to the fox as they related to its segregation from the rest of the world and to the animal’s preference of staying in the shadows- it was a lovely touch to the story.
Jewell not only masterfully includes the plot twists that fans of the genre anticipate, she effortlessly sets her characters on a collision course with one another, all whilst focusing on the character development rather than events. From the outset, we realise that Saffyre goes missing, but this isn’t what drives the plot of the story. Personally I feel like this story line takes a backseat in favour of a more character study approach to the novel. Normally I would prefer a plot driven book but this is one of those novels where focusing on the characters works so well because it allows for more emotions and connections.
This novel is 100% a one-more-chapter type of book! So well written and beautifully encapsulates themes of love, assault, human nature, betrayal, toxic masculinity, and lies. Lisa Jewell is a very talented writer and I can’t wait to read more!
Invisible Girl – Lisa Jewell
Publication Date – 04/08/2020
Paperback pages – 432
Rating – 5/5