The Last Confession of Autumn Casterly

The prospect of a dark and twisty thriller that’s also a feminist call to action was utter catnip to me. Hearing that it discussed toxic masculinity and rape culture made me so intrigued, as these are topics that need to be discussed and explored in more depth.

Luckily for me, the lovely Samuel Bonner and Penguin Random House sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review, so thank you so much to them.

Synopsis:

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TW: rape, sexual assault, harassment, drug use, violence, bullying and captivity/kidnapping.

When band-geek Ivy and her friends get together, things start with a rousing board game and end with arguments about Star Wars.

Her older sister Autumn is a different story. Enigmatic, aloof, and tough as nails, Autumn hasn’t had real friends–or trusted anyone–in years. Even Ivy.

But Autumn might not be tough enough. After a drug deal gone wrong, Autumn is beaten, bound, and held hostage. Now, trapped between life and death, she leaves her body, seeking help. No one can sense her presence–except her sister.

When Autumn doesn’t come home, Ivy just knows she’s in trouble. Unable to escape the chilling feeling that something isn’t right, Ivy follows a string of clues that bring her closer to rescuing her sister… and closer to danger.

Autumn needs Ivy to find her before time runs out. But soon, both sisters realize that finding her also means untangling the secrets that lead to the truth–about where they’re hiding Autumn, and what Autumn has been hiding.

My Thoughts:

This was such a twisty, unputdownable thriller that kept me utterly trapped within its pages.

I really, really liked the dual perspectives of Autumn and Ivy. Watching Autumn’s tough façade slowly crumble to reveal her true tragic story was heartbreaking, especially since key parts of it are learnt as Ivy learns the, adding that extra emotional punch. Her character arc was superb, though she never becomes fully likeable, we can see her be redeemed and understand that part of her spiky, hurt them first attitude is due to her trauma. Ivy is a completely lovable, enthusiastic nerd who has a heart of gold and whilst you’re watching her struggle to solve the mystery, you can’t help but root for her. Also, I really enjoyed how Tate showed the way that grief impacts on the two sisters is so stunning, showing the vast terrain of grief and the many varying reactions to it.

Tate cleverly uses the story as a metaphor for the wider issue of rape culture, that insidious stronghold of toxic masculinity and abuse that is held over women. This is a topic that I’m deeply passionate about and I feel like Tate dissects it in a sensitive, yet no holds barred manner that really leaves an impact on the reader. Unfortunately, as has happened in life, the future and prospects of the rapist are placed above those of the victim, who is ignored and silenced.

As a thriller, this is a well-structured, intricate story. I enjoyed the more unique aspects of the narrative, without giving too much detail away. The way that Tate builds tension as the clock ticks down is riveting, almost glueing my eyes to the page. I too felt trapped in the narrative unable to escape until the story’s final conclusion.

Tate is clearly a talented writer, crafting an endlessly intriguing and compelling thriller that shatters expectations and delves into some of the darkest topics of our time.

 

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