Book Review - The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone

A gripping new crime novel from the global bestseller Cathy Glass

No-one is born evil…are they?

A lorry crashes on a dark wet road. In the wake of the tragedy, a dying man receives another chance at life – but does he really deserve it? And if he lives, will those around him wish he hadn’t?

When critically ill Jacob Wilson has a heart transplant, his behaviour becomes very strange. His worried parents and girlfriend try their best to understand his sudden mood swings, but as things worsen, they begin to live in terror of what they might find in their son’s bedroom next – and as Jacob’s personality morphs, so too do the lives of those around him…

This is a spellbinding crime novel with a dark heart from the worldwide bestseller Cathy Glass writing as Lisa Stone.

I haven't read any of Cathy Glass' (Lisa Stone's pseudonym) books so was drawn to The Darkness Within entirely by the description. Unfortunately although it explored a fascinating premise and had some really tense moments I ultimately found it a little lacklustre. The opening few chapters were really quite gripping, we are introduced to Shane who we immediately learn is a very unsavoury character, with a prison record and a broken home life, he's an angry and dangerous man - particularly to his girlfriend, Rosie. Shane's justification for his brutal behaviour towards his girlfriend, and Rosie's anguish are vividly described and at this point I was eagerly turning the pages to discover what would happen next. Following this introduction, the novel moves away from Shane and Rosie and we meet the Reverend Andrew Wilson,who we soon learn has a son, Jacob who desperately needs a heart transplant. While even the most tense thrillers needs their quiet moments, I found the passages describing Jacob's transplant and early recovery to be overly descriptive and I felt the change of pace here made the book lose focus a bit.
Following the transplant, the realisation that Jacob has undergone some sort of personality change could have been really creepy, however, it didn't quite hit the mark and I'm struggling to work out why. It didn't quite feel believable to me -  not the idea of cellular memory meaning transplant patients take on certain personality traits of their donors, although I'm pretty sceptical without strong scientific evidence, I'm quite happy to suspend my beliefs for the sake of a story - rather Jacob himself wasn't quite authentic. The descriptions of his behaviour weren't the problem, he clearly became a very nasty individual, of that we're left in no doubt. It was his internal monologue I struggled with, I never really felt the author truly inhabited the character, it struck me as somebody trying to imagine what a bad person would think rather than truly understanding what motivated them. His gradual descent into darker and darker territory was quite chilling and there's a scene towards the end of the book that's really tense and exactly what I was hoping for from this book. It's just a shame I never felt involved in the same way through most of the rest of the story, I just had the sense that the author wrote what she thought portrayed the darker and seedier side of society but somehow the detachment between the page and real life meant it didn't quite ring true.
I still enjoyed much of The Darkness Within, it was a thought-provoking look at human behaviour and at what shapes our personalities. Despite my reservations I was keen to find out what happened and thought it was an interesting, if flawed, domestic thriller.
Many thanks to the publishers for my ARC, received through Netgalley in return for my honest review.

The Darkness Within will be published in the UK by Avon Books on 13th July 2017.

About the author
Lisa Stone lives in England and has three children. She has always been a writer – from when she was at school, with poems and articles in the school magazine. In her teens she began writing short stories, a few radio plays and novels. she finally made it into the bestseller charts with Damaged in 2007 which she wrote under the pseudonym Cathy Glass. Since then she has had 27 books published, many of which have become international bestsellers.