If you like psychological thrillers, The Ruining by Anna Collomore is definitely a tale for you!
Annie takes a nannying job for the seemingly perfect Cohen family on the outskirts of San Francisco. This seems like the perfect start for her: get away from her drunk mother, repugnant stepdad, and leave behind the plaguing nightmares of the little sister that died while Annie “should have been watching her” (even though Annie was just a child herself and their mom was home). Now Annie can move far away, go to college (funded by her perfect new job), and maybe even start up a romantic relationship with the hottie neighbor boy.
Annie bonds instantly with the adorable three-year-old Zoe (her new charge) and she idolizes Libby (Mrs. Cohen). Libby immediately takes Annie under her wing, giving her hand-me-downs (which are practically brand new and expensive as hell), telling her she knows all about her past and telling her she can trust her; they will be great friends. And everything seems to be going fine…for a little while.
Annie tries to ignore Libby’s weird mood swings and the fact that she never really goes near Zoe, but never lets her infant son out of her sight. And she still tries to defend Libby and rationalize her mistreatments, such as when Libby starts asking her to skip classes to babysit, work on her days off, and not to mention her erratic tendencies to snap for no reason, accusing Annie of things she didn’t do.
But when Libby’s controlling behaviors start to build to a crescendo, even to the point of trying to keep Annie away from the neighbor (perfect gentleman Owen), she starts to question things a bit more:
“Why did Libby have her eyes trained on me? There was something odd about the way she took an interest in me, the way she vacillated from concerned and caring to cold and disapproving. And the way my happiness in Marin County hinged on her approval wasn’t right. I knew it. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it pathological, but I had to get a grip, to form a social life outside of the Cohen family.”
This book takes you through a psychological journey of manipulation and exploitation at its finest. It felt like I was trapped in a horror movie, right in the walls of my own head—I wanted to scream at the victim “No, don’t go up the stairs, you crazy girl! RUN!” This book is definitely a pulse-hammering, edge-of-you-seat kind of read that fans of Sara Shepard’s popular Pretty Little Liars series are sure to enjoy.
Five stars for making my head whirl and making me question my own sanity at times!
(No, but seriously, I could hear the *screech screech screech * noise from Psycho in my head while I read most of this book.)