Book Review: DISCLAIMER by Renée Knight

disclaimerImagine reading a thriller and suddenly realizing the much-hated main character is you. And the disclaimer about resemblances to real people being coincidental has been crossed out. This is the premise of first-time novelist Renée Knight’s Disclaimer.

Catherine Ravenscroft, a documentary filmmaker in London, finds a book on her nightstand one evening and starts reading it. With horror, she recognizes the story is about her and something that happened 20 years ago, a terrible incident no one—including her husband—is supposed to know about.

Catherine doesn’t recall buying the book or how it ended up on her nightstand. It’s published under a pseudonym by Rhamnousia, a self-publishing entity named for the goddess of revenge. As Catherine investigates the book’s origins and author, her dark secret threatens to surface and shatter her family and life.

Disclaimer alternates between Catherine’s point of view, written in third person, and the first-person point of view of the man who’s tormenting her with the book. This creates an unsettling experience, as if readers are asked to side with the person who stalks Catherine and wreaks havoc on her. It also keeps Catherine mysterious, making it unclear why she doesn’t work harder to defend herself.

But Knight’s technique pays off, and the ending delivers more than one emotional wallop. Readers’ feelings about each character will likely be upended as they’re reminded that sometimes people commit atrocious acts out of love, and those who behave abhorrently can also be honorable.

This originally appeared as a starred review in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission. Disclaimer also made the May Nerdy Special List.

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Eirego
    June 19, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I thought I’d heard about this book!

    I remember it from the May NSL. Haven’t read it yet, but I keep thinking it sounds like a mini series.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 19, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      I don’t know about a miniseries, because that might drag out the story too long, but it might make a good movie!

  • Reply
    Lauren
    June 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I don’t want to read your review in case I end up writing this one up, but it was because of you telling me about it I got on the waiting list. It should come up soon, can’t wait! I think I also saw it on a recommended summer reading list. Today Show, maybe? Anyway, thanks for putting it on my radar.

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      June 19, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      Yes, it was on the TODAY list. I’m glad it’s on your reading list. We can discuss when you’ve read it!

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