Fear. That's what comes to mind when Sophie thinks of her childhood. Fear. And pain.
She ran away from home to protect her unborn child. Now, twenty years later, she's a woman who learned to put the past and its dark secrets behind her. To stand on her own and to build a good life for herself and her son.
But the past is not yet done with her and those dark secrets rise from the grave. Her courage, and the strength of her love will be put to the test. What's on the line is everyone she loves.
It's flight or fight and this time she won't run.
*****Warning for readers: This book contains triggers of physical and sexual abuse, of torture and murder. It is not for the faint of heart.
The Boy in the Barn quite literally wore me out at times. It's incredibly dark and twisted, and I would advise taking the warning in the blurb seriously because it does not exaggerate. The story is disturbing to the point that I had to walk away more than once just for a bit of a palate cleanser before diving back in. And there was never a doubt that I would dive back in because I had to see how it would all play out for Sophie.
There are several things that are predictable, and more often than not, that would bother me, but that's really not what this one is all about. So, yes, I saw some things coming, but guessing those things ahead of time didn't spoil anything for me. Instead, it was more like watching a horror movie and just knowing the monster is going to jump out, but you sit on the edge of your seat, glued to the screen, and jump like you've been shot when it actually happens.
You simply can not read this book and not be shocked, appalled, even sickened at times because there are no monsters hiding under the bed to rival the evils that men do, and Ciana Stone gives us one that is truly nightmare-inducing. Thankfully, Ms Stone does give us something to hope for, a possible light at the end of a pitch-black tunnel with a bit of romance. And I have to say, that I had my doubts about any light as this story progressed.
To avoid spoilers, I won't go into the characters other than Sophie, who is an absolutely terrific character. She's a brilliant combination of loving, strong, determined, considerate, and completely loyal to those dear to her. Sophie's sweetness is one of the things that make this story so hard to take at times. For such a good person to come from so much horror is a testament to what people are capable of when they know real love. I'll also add that the author tells this one from three perspectives, including Sophie's, and it's up to you to figure out the other two as you read.
To sum it up, this is one of the darkest stories I've read in a long time, and as I mentioned, I did have to walk away a few times. It's also wonderfully written, and regardless of how many times I walked away, the story was never far from my mind. There's something thoroughly compelling about this one, and it's one I won't soon forget.