Happy Ever After by C. C. MacDonald

A review of the psychological dramatic thriller Happy Ever After by C. C. MacDonald.

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Happy Ever After is the debut novel of Thanet-based writer C. C. MacDonald. It is a psychological drama about love, betrayal and revenge. Naomi and her husband, Charles, are desperately trying to conceive their second child and a few bad business choices have left the pair unhappy and frustrated with their situation. Living in a run-down house in a fictional Shoreditch-On-Sea town (loosely based on Margate and the surrounding area) nothing seems to be going right, until Naomi meets Sean. Totally different from her husband, Naomi is instantly attracted to Sean. After an afternoon of passion, Sean disappears leaving Naomi confused and guilty. Then strange things start happening in the house. The story follows Naomi’s search for the truth.

Well-written and easy to read, this is a good debut novel. The story is well researched and, for the most part, totally believable. The plot develops at a reasonable pace and the twists are thought through and subtle. The final twist is inventive and not at all obvious. The narrative is interspersed with emails and text messages from various characters which allows for a great amount of plot development in relatively few pages.

The characters are developed and the author knows them well, although I did find most of them to be thoroughly unlikeable. Naomi and Charles are in what you could only describe as an abusive relationship. No matter what Charles does, Naomi is angry and judgmental about it. She overreacts and over-analyses everything and makes everything about her. He, on the other hand, is like a deer caught in headlights, unless he’s playing football. Charles is keeping secrets that a grown man should not have to keep. Saying that, not liking the main characters did not stop me reading Happy Ever After.

There are a few incidents of violence towards animals, which personally I could have done without, but I understand it was needed to build up a character’s profile.

Happy Ever After is a good book and I would recommend readers give it a go. It won’t be to everybody’s taste and I wouldn’t describe it as a thriller. It’s different than my usual reads—it’s not a police procedural filled with gruesome murders, it’s much more a drama that studies the characters. A very good debut.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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