Always Watching Review
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There aren’t a lot of authors who can give their readers chills on a hot summer day—but Chevy Stevens certainly can. Since the release of her haunting debut, 2010’s Still Missing, she’s been on my list of must-read authors. Now, with her third novel, Always Watching, the talented author tells yet another eerie tale of a strong woman who’s struggling to overcome a troubled past.

Dr. Nadine Lavoie has dedicated her life to helping people. But when a new patient, Heather Simeon, is brought to the psychiatric hospital where Nadine works, she brings some ghosts from Nadine’s past along with her.

Heather was a resident of the River of Life Spiritual Center, a well-known commune led by a powerful man named Aaron Quinn—the same man who ran the commune where Nadine lived with her mother and brother when she was a child. For decades, Nadine has been unable to remember large chunks of her time at the commune—but when Heather starts telling her story, Nadine’s memories start coming back, and she’s forced to confront the horrors that Heather’s case has unearthed.

From the first page of any Chevy Stevens novel, you’ll feel it: that faint yet lingering sense that things are about to go horribly wrong. And that feeling will stick with you as you get to know the characters and their stories, the tension slowly building with each new page. The same is definitely the case for Always Watching. From the very beginning of this eerie novel, you’ll get caught up in a haze created by the story’s dark and haunting atmosphere.

Always Watching starts on a pretty grim note—with Heather’s attempted suicide—and it never really lightens up. Life hasn’t been easy for Nadine. Her parents had a rocky relationship—even after her father came to bring them home from the commune. Her husband died long before his time. And her daughter, Lisa, is an addict who lives on the streets. To make matters even worse, as Nadine’s memories start coming back, it turns out that her past was even more troubled than she even remembered. It makes Always Watching a heavy read—sometimes even oppressively so—but there’s something about this troubled character and her mysterious past that makes it impossible to set the book aside. Despite the challenges and heartache she faces on a daily basis, she keeps moving forward, helping those who aren’t as strong as she is.

Always Watching definitely isn’t a light and fluffy poolside read. It’s dark and unnerving and often tragic, too. Though Nadine’s story tends to meander a bit, occasionally wandering into subplots that seem unnecessary, it’s a haunting and emotional story—one that will stay with you after you finish reading the last page.

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