Captive by Claudine Dumont

24385975I can finally say that I have a psychological thriller to recommend. I first saw this book when C.J. at ebookclassics reviewed it. The next time I heard of it was when the 2015 Governor General’s Literary Award lists came out.

Emma is miserable. She goes to work, comes home, drinks too much. Then, one night, she is kidnapped. She wakes up in a room with nothing but a mattress, a steel door, grey concrete walls, and a drain in the floor. When she sleeps, someone comes to replenish her water pitcher and to make sure she’s clean. (Imagine knowing that strangers are doing things to you while you’re unconscious? Even if it’s just a bath. But, is it just a bath?)

I’m feeling better. But it’s not better. The silence. The absence of time. The fear. Always. Constant. Exhausting. Questions without answers. The silence. The four concrete walls, the mattress, the silence. And nothing else.

One morning she wakes up to find that another person has been put in the room with her. Together, they undergo a series of  what feels to them like ‘tests’, as though they are lab rats. But, what is it all for? And, will they ever make it out alive?

When something happens, I get scared. And then I panic. And then I get used to it. But he gets furious. He hates. Ferociously. The hatred of an animal. I don’t think he’ll adapt. I don’t think he’ll get used to this.

Most reviewers on Goodreads are talking about the ending. Some are shocked by it, while others don’t like it, or think it’s too abrupt. But most have something to say about it. I thought it was good, even plausible; definitely not predictable.

The only thing that bothered me about the book was the style of writing. The author uses short, clipped sentences. It works well a lot of the time, giving the narrative a sense of urgency. But, sometimes it got on my nerves. I would never suggest skipping the book because of it, though.

For me, Captive was a page-turner; creepy, suspenseful, and unpredictable. And, for a short book, I was surprised how invested I became in the characters. I hope you know how hard it has been for me not to give anything away. I’d love to talk about it, so get reading!

Even in the impossible, even in the unbearable, there are markers of daily routine.

Claudine Dumont is a writer, teacher, photographer, and co-owner of Ma Soeur et Moi Cafe in Laval, Quebec. Captive is her first novel. The novel was translated from French to English by David Scott Hamilton.

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28 thoughts on “Captive by Claudine Dumont

  1. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    What a creepy thought, that someone touches you while you are unconscious! And you can’t do anything to stop it. I’ll add it to my “thriller” list. (I don’t know if I should read more reviews on Goodreads; I don’t want accidental spoilers….)

    • Naomi says:

      This is an easy book to spoil, so you might want to be careful.
      So creepy to think that someone is touching you while you sleep – eek. Best not to think about it! 🙂

    • Naomi says:

      I was thinking of you while reading this. It’s not very often that I have a thriller to recommend to you instead of the other way around.
      Sometimes I wonder if I’m really qualified to state my opinion on this genre, since I don’t read a lot of it. So, read it and tell me what you think. It’s quick!

  2. Cathy746books says:

    This sounds intriguing. I wondered if the choppy sentences might wear thin? I’ll try and avoid reading any spoilers for this one in case I spot it at the library. Great review as always.

    • Naomi says:

      They only wear thin at times. Most of the time I could forget about them. They may bother some people more than others, which is why I mentioned it.

  3. Karen says:

    Great balanced review! At first the style of writing kind of grated on me too, but I think the main thing was that I found it pretty hard to feel anything for Emma (maybe because she didn’t feel anything for herself?). Once she started caring more, I started caring more too. (I guess that makes sense!) I kind of guessed what the “moral” of the story would look like and almost wished it wasn’t so obvious. Overall, a suspenseful read once I got into it! (The coffin scene made me feel so claustrophobic!!)

    • Naomi says:

      Gah. The coffin scene was awful! Much worse than the needles.
      I also had kind of guessed what the ‘moral’ would be, but couldn’t figure out how she would end it.

    • buriedinprint says:

      Even though I am spoilerphobic and love that you don’t include big spoilers in your posts, I can also see how, with this book, some people might think they wouldn’t want to read it but, if they knew the ending in advance, might change their minds. Still, I do love a good thriller, so I’m really glad that I missed the GoodReads thread you’ve menioned and discovered the ending on my own. I kind of wish there was a little more background provided with it – just one more scene, perhaps, so it didn’t feel *quite* so abrupt – but it worked for me generally.

      • Naomi says:

        I kind of like that it was abrupt. I feel like that’s the way they would have felt coming out of it – completely jarred.
        It is a tough one to talk about without spoilers. It sounds creepier than it turns out to be.

  4. Claudine says:

    Hey Naomi, just stumble upon your review while searching for articles to put a “dossier de presse” together. I just wanted to tell you that I am very glad that you liked my story! And it was very fun (and interesting) to read all the comments! So thanks you very much, you just made my day a year and a half later. And the coffin scene is the way it is because that is truly my worst nightmare, guess I was able to transfert it to my readers. Love that it worked so well. Now, I will go and get that Pierre Lemaitre book. 🙂

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