Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. One Last Lie was selected as an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here!
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you come across a true gem. A novel that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. A story that makes you melt, and yet keeps you terrified and on the edge of your seat. A book you can’t put down, but never want to finish. And sometimes, this gem comes in a genre that isn’t necessarily your favourite. One Last Lie is one of these hauntingly beautiful novels, one that I recommend to many.
Philip and Jonathan have been in love for twelve beautiful years. One day, Philip’s friend from college, Angela, a woman who suffered from great depression and obesity, comes to visit, but Angela is not how Philip remembers her at all. In shape and glowing, bubbly and absolutely charming, both Philip and Jonathan take a liking to her. But when she convinces the couple to have a child with her through artificial insemination, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Angela reveals her true nature, and their lives become plagued in ways they could never have imagined. An unforgiving woman who piles lies on top of lies, this thriller will leave you begging for more, and wishing you could tear your eyes away from the tragedy.
There’s a sense of impending doom throughout the novel. Even in the happiest of scenes, the reader always senses a dark shadow looming in the corner. It’s incredibly unsettling, perfect for the tone of the novel. Kaufman pulls the reader into the story from the first page, ensuring we don’t miss a moment of the chaos that ensues. But what most intrigued me was not the chaos happening in Kaufman’s world, but in each of his characters.
No person is perfect, and the same goes for these characters. Some hide their darkness better than others, some have more control, but each character in this novel faces, at least once, a dark desire or impulse. Triggered from lust or rage, love or hate, we are all capable of good and evil, and this is an idea that Kaufman really plays off of. What are we capable of, given a certain circumstance? What can we be driven to? And are we all just a victim of our upbringing and past? These are all interesting concepts that envelop each character and, in turn, the reader themselves.
Our antagonist, Angela, is most intriguing. The reader cannot help but regard her with contempt, but there’s almost a sense of empathy, or at least sympathy as well. In many ways, she is as much a victim as any other character. There’s an unpredictable element about her that I don’t think she can even control, and it’s this element that humanizes her. Even when we want to hate her blindly, there’s a part of us that can’t help but dig deeper. Kaufman has a true talent for toying with this balance, one that shines particularly bright in Angela.
Through the mystery and deception, however, the story is one of love. You can’t help but fall in love with Philip and Jonathan, characters who differ from each other greatly, but compliment each other just as well. Through the pain and darkness, there is a purity in them, a light that seemingly cannot be snuffed. Easy to root for with quiet but relatable traits, these two lovebirds are perfect protagonists.
I must admit, I find myself with very little criticism for this novel. I found only one error early on, particularly impressive considering the book was self published. That being said, I wish the author had delved deeper into mental health. It is clearly a large theme, playing a big part for many of the characters. I feel like anyone reading this novel who does not know a lot the subject could be mislead in the truth about mental illness, and I would hate for that to happen. Had he gone that extra mile, the book would’ve been perfect. That being said, it was still thoroughly enjoyable and definitely suspenseful! I rate this book 4/5 stars, and would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a bit of a romantic mystery.
Be sure to check out One Last Lie over at OnlineBookClub.org, and feel free to check out other reviews there as well!