Reviewed by: BD Whitney
Kidnapped by a madman, Allie Foster wakes to darkness and fear. She craves the light, but when she finally finds it, it illuminates a nightmare – a room filled with the dead, broken bodies of other women just like her. Allie is made of tough stuff, however. Instead of resorting to panic, she ventures forth and finds that her captor has definite plans for her. Oh, he certainly intends to kill her, but he means to toy with her awhile first.
Days of uncertainty pass as the killer engages Allie in philosophical conversation, forcing her to confront the pain in her past while at the same time agonizing over her uncertain future. And while her fear never truly goes away, something within Allie begins to relax, and she begins to feel a twisted kind of kinship with the captor. She knows it is dangerous to trust him; there is no doubt that the man is unbalanced, but his intentions are unclear. Does he plan to keep Allie as a guest and debate partner, will he set her free, or will he finally follow through with his promises and end her life?
Nicole Fuentes’ novella Keeping Her in the Light mixes suspense and horror into a psychological thriller about a woman who finds that light does not always represent safety and that sometimes darkness holds the key to hope. This is a tale of Stockholm syndrome and its opposite, Lima syndrome, and how they affect a killer and his prey.
I found this tale to be arresting and somewhat entertaining, although it did almost lose me in a couple of places. I found the portions of the story that revolved around the heroine’s philosophical discussions with her captor to drag just a little. They confused me more than enlightened me, and this lead to a certain amount of impatience on my part. However, these discussions also helped to reveal the killer’s personality – or, rather, personalities – so it made an odd kind of sense to me that the conversation was difficult to follow.
Both of the main characters are interesting and well drawn. The killer is obviously sick and not just a little bit evil, but I was drawn to him. Ms. Fuentes does a good job differentiating his personalities, and watching each of them interact with Allie and with each other was horrifyingly fascinating. He very purposely sets out to create Stockholm syndrome within Allie, and as she succumbs to it, I followed along. Although I was a little slower to warm up to Allie, even though she is the innocent party, I had to sympathize with the misplaced feelings of responsibility that keep her tethered to her captor’s side.
Readers should be forewarned that Keeping Her in the Light is graphically violent. That said, the violence and gore do not overpower the story but rather underscore the nature of the antagonist and the strangeness of the situation.
Overall, I found this to be very suspenseful and not just a little bit creepy, and I quite enjoyed the sense of uncertainty that permeates the story. Even given the strange affinity that grows between Allie and the killer, it was clear to me that he had every intention of finally killing her. The main question in my mind (and hers as well, I’m sure) was how he would do it and which of his personalities would commit the deed.