The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer #20booksofsummer21 #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller

This book comes out next Tuesday – June 15, 2021

When a small-town family is pushed to the brink, how far will they go to protect one of their own? An edgy, propulsive read about what we will do in the name of love and blood Tony has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when he’s called to a hospital bed where Nick is lying battered and bruised after a violent sexual assault, his protective instincts flare, and a white-hot rage begins to build. As a small-town New England lawyer, Tony’s wife, Julia, has cases involving kids all the time. When Detective Rice gets assigned to this one, Julia feels they’re in good hands. Especially because she senses that Rice, too, understands how things can quickly get complicated. Very complicated. After all, one moment Nick was having a drink with a handsome stranger; the next, he was at the center of an investigation threatening to tear not only him, but his entire family, apart. And now his attacker, out on bail, is disputing Nick’s version of what happened. As Julia tries to help her brother-in-law, she sees Tony’s desire for revenge, to fix things for Nick, getting out of control. Tony is starting to scare her. And before long, she finds herself asking: does she really know what her husband is capable of? Or of what she herself is? Exploring elements of doubt, tragedy, suspense, and justice, The Damage is an all-consuming read that marks the explosive debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer is a compelling debut novel that will have you contemplating moral gray areas and where the line is defining right and wrong.

What I Loved

I loved that the story did not require even a moment of suspended disbelief. I’m so used to reading rather fun but outrageous plots that this story, with its plausible plot, is like a breath of fresh air. It also makes the novel even more impactful, as I had to acknowledge that this case could genuinely happen and does with more frequency than the general public is even aware.

The character development is deep and layered, portraying a family of tragically sympathetic characters to whom I found myself immediately drawn. Nick Hall is the victim of a crime he doesn’t recollect because the perpetrator knocked him out. His sister-in-law Julia is a lawyer who often finds herself the voice of reason for Nick and Tony, her husband and Nick’s brother. And Tony is the protector who feels he must correct all the wrongs that happen to every family member. Scarred by his father’s abuse, he is often his own worst enemy but has a heart of gold. They work together to get through a terrible ordeal that will forever change them.

I enjoyed the ending with its shocking twist that took me by surprise but is in keeping with the characters’ personalities and the realistic plot. The implications of the conclusion are far-reaching and explore the murky grey areas of morality that will prompt many discussions among readers.

I appreciated how male-to-male sexual assault and the mental health issues that come as a consequence are all handled. It’s covered in a sensitive way that shows respect to readers and the characters. There is not much detail provided about the assault itself, and it isn’t needed. Also, the mental health issues that arise are handled responsibly utilizing counseling and behavioral health departments and centers.

To Read or Not to Read

If you love psychological thrillers, you will love this refreshingly real thriller by debut author Caitlin Wahrer.

27 Replies to “The Damage by Caitlin Wahrer #20booksofsummer21 #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller”

  1. You know? I was really on the fence about reading this. It seemed intriguing but brutal and your review has cleared up a few things for me so.. thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The way it’s written and with the emphasis on characters’ responses to the victim, I didn’t find it at all brutal. The hardest part (and this isn’t a spoiler) is when Nick, the victim, develops a mental health disorder called Trichotillomania which is where people pull out little bits of their hair frequently. It becomes almost a habit and occurs when people feel like their lives are out of their control – it’s a way of feeling like they have some control. It can be a tiny bit disturbing. But that’s the only part of the book where I donned my counseling hat (which I have found I do during intense parts of psyc thrillers) and I think that mostly had to do with the fact that I worked with a teenage girl who suffered from that disorder. So…you’re welcome 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah, I see, thank you. Some of these books can get very dark.. and very intense rather quickly. I’ve been reading a lot in the horror/thriller genres recently and ‘brutal’ seems popular right now.
        From the sounds of it, this book would be something I could read, and I’ll be reading it when I get the chance.
        Thanks so much for taking the time!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know this is completely unrelated, but I like the format you have with the scroll box of a description beside the book cover, then the review below. I meant to tell you last week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I like it too and it took me forever to figure out how to do it. Luckily I thought to ask Jo @ Blue Mood Cafe how to do it when I saw her use it for an excerpt. ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t remember how I heard about it – FB maybe or maybe Random House sent me a widget. 🤷🏻‍♀️. But it really is a fresh take on the genre and I love that. It, like, dials back the increasing craziness in the genre. Very nice debut!


  3. I’m so glad you ended up enjoying this one! I’m excited to read it. Believable stories always pull me in. Excellent review as always, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It looks like a book I’m going to enjoy. From your great review it looks like a book I will enjoy reading. I know of a few books I’m going to buy this summer when I break up from the school where I work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the code is working very well. Just what I wanted. Thank you, again! And this is definitely a book you must have ❤️


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