Blog tour: Eye of the Beholder by Emma Bamford

Eye of the Beholder

This post is part of a blog tour organised by Random Things Blog Tours. I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

‘When Maddy Wight is hired to ghostwrite the memoir of world-renowned cosmetic surgeon Angela Reynolds, she jumps at the chance to get her career back on track. But the deeper she digs, the more elusive the doctor becomes.

‘Confined to Angela’s glass-walled house in the Scottish Highlands, Maddy can’t shake the unsettling feeling of being watched. As a result, she is drawn ever closer to Angela’s enigmatic business partner Scott, whose mercurial moods change as quickly as the darkening moors outside.

‘Returning to London once the book is finished, Maddy is excited for their future together. But news of Scott’s death shatters the celebrations at the book’s launch party.

‘Which is why, months later and still grieving, she is blindsided to see Scott entering a tube station just in front of her. It can’t be him, can it? After all, Scott is dead… or is he?’

Eye of the Beholder

In Eye of the Beholder, by Emma Bamford, ghostwriter Maddy Wight travels to an ultra-modern barn conversion in the Scottish Highlands to create a book on behalf of cosmetic surgeon Angela Reynolds.

Maddy soon learns that her new client is commanding and exacting: Angela knows precisely what she wants the publication to look like, and resists Maddy’s attempts to draw out any interesting personal information. There are also some odd happenings around the house that Maddy can’t quite dismiss.

A more positive development for Maddy is a promising romantic relationship with Angela’s business partner, Scott. However, this ends in tragedy not long after she gets back home to London.

Events take an even stranger turn some months later, when Maddy spots a man who looks so uncannily like Scott, she can’t get him out of her mind. The pair end up dating, but Connor’s supposedly dead doppelganger makes for a spectral third wheel.

Eye of the Beholder totally gripped me, so much so that I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish the last few dozen pages. There were just so many things that captured my attention and held my interest.

The most obvious of these were all the mysteries surrounding Angela, her business, and her house. Why engage a ghostwriter who specialises in autobiographies, only to be so cagey about yourself? Why is affable Scott so jarringly unfriendly on occasion? Who keeps moving things around? And who is the mysterious young backpacker who makes the odd appearance?

I was also fascinated, though, by Maddy’s work. For me, ghostwriting is one of those “maybe in another life…” dream jobs, so I really enjoyed living vicariously through her and seeing what she would expect to get up to on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, as Angela is less forthcoming than Maddy’s usual clients, she has to do a fair bit more private detective-type work than normal, and I liked following her on that journey as well. The false and dead ends she kept running into were highly intriguing and a tad spooky – it’s clear from early on that Angela’s hiding something, but it takes the whole book to unpick it all, building up to a tense, dramatic climax.

I additionally appreciated the glimpse offered by this novel into the world of cosmetic surgery. I was particularly grabbed by the idea that people undergo expensive procedures because they’re scared of looking “less like themselves” as age alters their features. Having long felt that I’ve become “more myself” as I’ve grown older, I’d never thought about it like that before!

Both Angela and Maddy are interesting characters, the former because she’s so steely and enigmatic, and the latter – on top of having a cool job – because of the way she unravels in the second act.

While Maddy is ultimately very much right to question the events surrounding Scott’s death, the way she pursues Connor, and tries to turn him into Scott in terms of his hair and clothes, is unsettling to say the least – and in keeping with the events of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, to which this story is a tribute.

Eye of the Beholder is compulsive, fascinating, and mind-bending.

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About Alice Violett

Writer of blogs and short stories, reader of books, player of board games, lover of cats, editor of web content, haver of PhD.

Colchester, UK