The Other People is a thriller with supernatural elements that focuses on grief and how people react to horrible situations which shatter and change their life forever. It is the third novel by C.J. Tudor who seems to specialise in these otherworldly, creepy tales that take some very ordinary aspects of life and childhood and twists and plays with them to add a macabre and dark element. Not my favourite of the novels by Tudor, but still a fantastic edition to her works overall.
There are three main sets of characters within the novel and we follow their different perspectives throughout. Gabe is a grieving father who blames and punishes himself and this is so easy to see. Katie, who is a waitress in a motorway services, calls him ‘The Thin Man’ and this is reflective of the fact that he is basically wasting away due to his grief. I thought that this was fantastic and found his character both realistic and heartbreaking. It felt like a very accurate but disturbing portrayal of grief and I was constantly interested in seeing what would happen to him and rooting for him throughout.
Similarly, I found the character of Katie to be empathetic and I was interested in knowing more about how. However, the chapters which featured Fran felt overwhelming and a little messy and she had to be my least favourite character. This is confusing, considering her chapters actually feature some of my favourite parts, but hey ho. My favourite character overall is that of The Samaritan. I feel he added a lot of intrigue and atmosphere to the novel and I really enjoyed any time that he featured within the novel.
There are some very spooky aspects here but the biggest hit of ‘atmosphere’ came from the chapters with Alice. Any time she entered a bathroom I felt my breath catch as I waited to see what would happen to her. However, despite really loving these elements, I don’t think Tudor did enough with the payout. The atmosphere that had been built up deserved a whole lot more in the end and I almost felt like you could blink and miss the ultimate conclusion to this.
I also thought that Tudor had done a great job in making the novel feel stagnant, cloying and without a sense of hope. The general motorway and motorway service station setting definitely adds to this stillness and also to the element of people not really going anywhere. I have been in those service stations at 3 am and it really does replicate this unreality of the quiet in the middle of the morning and the weariness of the travellers. This was a great element to add.
In terms of the element of fear, suspense and general creepiness created in the rest of the novel? Well this was definitely successful. It isn’t the scariest thriller I’ve ever read, but there were definitely elements when I was worried for the fate of people and I did feel on edge at elements of this.
Writing was my least favourite aspect of the novel. Tudor has chosen to create brief interludes in this novel which are there to add atmosphere and intrigue, but could be seen as repetitive and – due to the nature of the ending – I feel overall are not actually necessary. The problem with these is that they open using the exact same two sentences, this is to allow the reader to know that they have entered in to this scene and interaction again, but comes across as repetitive and often irritating.
As for the rest of the novel, there is nothing bad about the writing but there is also nothing of particular note to speak about either. General good writing, which is made more readable and enjoyable due to the fact that the plot and other elements are so good.
I really enjoyed the plot of The Other People. I think it makes a lot of sense and is something I could see happening! It is terrible to say but I was compelled to continue reading throughout. The way that all the threads tie together don’t actually feel convoluted given the nature of the main villain and theme in this. It is cleverly done and I really did like discovering the different threads and seeing how they would could all be drawn together.
Compelling is the word I’d use for this. Why did this happen to Gabe? What is he hiding? How is Katie involved? What is Fran running from? Who is the Samaritan really? Alice? Is that Alice? How do the interludes fit in? ….and so on. I had so many questions throughout this and I felt really satisfied with the way that they were tied up and linked together. It is definitely an intriguing novel and I think this is where the true success of The Other People lies. I just wanted to know what was going on.
It is hard to tie together all these loose ends. It is definitely difficult to have such a large cast of characters connect together in a way that genuinely makes it look like this could happen, rather than it looking like some convoluted plot dreamed up by a thriller writer to try and create an original novel. I am amazed at how well Tudor seemed to manage to do this. It does make sense, I understand how it is possible that these characters could come together, and the explanation underneath all of this makes perfect sense.
I read this enter book in one sitting. It was a fast and enjoyable read and most of all, I did feel that it was original. I liked the combination of natural normal elements and the small element of the supernatural and I was interested and intrigued enough throughout to want to know what was going to happen to those characters. I stayed up to finish this one, forcing myself not to go to sleep just to get in the last pages. Definitely enjoyable and worth a read.