Book Review, Books Read in 2017, Thriller

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker: A Book Review

emma in the night which book to read first
Title: Emma in the Night
Author: Wendy Walker
Year Published: 2017
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Obtained: Public Library

Synopsis: In Emma in the Night, Sisters Emma and Cass Tanner, disappear one night, leaving everyone to think they were dead. But, three years later, Cass returns with a crazy story about a kidnapping and isolated island, where Emma still is. Hoping that Cass’s stories and observations will help find Emma, Dr. Abby Winter slowly begins to believe that there’s so much more to Cass’s story than meets the eye. Family secrets slowly begin to unravel after all these years, and Abby has to figure out whether or not Cass is telling the truth or losing her mind.

Wow! That’s all I can say after finally finishing this book! The family dynamic in Tanner household makes me extremely grateful for my own seemingly normal family.


The Characters

Cass comes home one night after disappearing three years before with a wild story of kidnapping. Emma was pregnant when she left, reaching out to a couple who would help her give birth and take care of the baby. Cass got stuck in the middle of this exchange and ends up going along for the ride. Cass’s story is hard to believe, although psychologist Dr. Abby Winter believes there is some truth to it. Getting to the bottom of the story is what Abby tries to do.

Emma and Cass come from a broken home. Their father, Owen Tanner, left his first marriage and son to be with their mother, Judy. After having the two girls, Judy leaves Owen for Jonathan Martin, moving them all in with him and his young son, Hunter. Throughout this whole ordeal, Cass knows that moving in with the Martins is a bad idea and tries to fight to live with her father. Emma turns the tables on her and chooses to live with their mother, cementing both of them to Mrs. Martin’s home for the rest of their childhood.

From the start, Mrs. Martin (as Cass is instructed to call her after her betrayal during the divorce) is cold to Cass, choosing instead to favor Emma in every way. Jonathan and Judy Martin have a rather volatile relationship, and both Jonathan and his son Hunter vie for the eyes of Emma, finding her very attractive. This obviously upsets Judy, since the attention of these two men have turned from her to her younger daughter. Judy finds ways to make Emma pay, all while making Cass pay as well.


Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Mental illness plays a huge factor in the narrative of Emma in the Night. Mrs. Martin, Emma and Cass’s mother, shows symptoms for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, making their home life chaotic and unstable. Walker went really in-depth when it came to classifying this disorder, showing the reader that it is indeed a dangerous mental illness that can take its toll on everyone involved.

Dr. Abby Winter’s own mother had Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and she has dedicated her life to the study of this disease. This is how she is able to see that Judy Martin is afflicted with this illness, while everyone else sees a loving mother who is distraught after the disappearance of her two daughters. Abby was involved in the case from the start, so she is in the front lines when Cass finally makes her way home.

Abby believes that Judy Martin also suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and bases her entire hypothesis of this case on that single opinion.


The Story

Cass’s story, like I said before, is a very tall tale. She is able to recall so many details of the three years the two girls spent in captivity. She even describes how, after Emma had her baby, the couple took over in raising her and barely let Emma near her.

Judy Martin is present during the entire telling of the story due to Cass’s request. Mrs. Martin believes that Cass has been so traumatized that she has gone completely mad. She requests numerous times that Cass isn’t well and should get tested to make sure she was mentally okay. These are little details that Abby picks up on, thinking that there’s more to Cass’s story than the actual words she is speaking.

The narrative splits between first person from Cass’s point of view, to third person from Abby’s point of view. The two points of view couldn’t be more different, which shows how good Walker is as an author. Cass’s chapters contain a lot of run-on sentences and counting, showing that Cass has experienced some trauma from both her life and her three-year disappearance. I loved that, as I read, I felt that Cass was speaking to me through this book.


That OMG Moment!

Obviously, I don’t want to give anything away, but as I read towards the final few chapters of the book, I had that OMG moment that I love about thrillers like this one. As a reader, I always create my own theories on the ending, and I was so excited that I didn’t guess how it would end! You will never expect what is coming, and it will change your view of all the characters!


This is, so far, the best book I have read this year. I was so excited that it was available at the library, and it literally took me three days to finish it (which is really good for me!) I would HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone and anyone.



Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (Wendy Walker knocked it out of the park!)
Storyline: 5 stars (What a story! What an ending!)
Characters: 5 stars (They were all unique and well-developed.)
Setting: 5 stars (The descriptions were done really well.)
Reading Pace: 5 stars (Finished it in no time flat!)

Memorable Quote: “I would rather live half as long feeling alive than twice as long feeling dead already.”

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2 thoughts on “Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker: A Book Review

  1. I thought this was one of the best thrillers I have read all year for the same reasons you describe, especially because there are so many thrillers out there these days and a majority of them feel stale and predictable. I love that authors can still shock me with twists and surprise endings!

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