Book Review: Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

April 6, 2021 in Mystery & Thriller

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Hello friends! I hope that you had a restful Easter weekend full of great books and delicious treats! My main weekend read was the book that I’m reviewing for you today. (Which also comes out today so happy publication day!) It’s a domestic thriller about a woman whose 10 week old son gets abducted and she has to do whatever the kidnapper says if she wants to get him back. Let me tell you, it is a WILD ride from start to finish. I’ve never read anything by this author before but a lot of my favourite booktubers have been talking about this book and I knew I needed to read it ASAP. And reader, it was worth it. So without any further ado, here’s my review of Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson!

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

Mother May I
by Joshilyn Jackson

Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Date of Publication: 6th April 2021
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Format: eBook (327 pages)
Rating: ★★★★

Buy on Bookshop.org*

 

Synopsis

Revenge doesn’t wait for permission.

Growing up poor in rural Georgia, Bree Cabbat was warned by her single mother that the world was a dark and scary place. Bree rejected her mother’s fearful outlook, and life has proved her right. Having married into a family with wealth, power, and connections, Bree now has all a woman could ever dream of: a loving lawyer husband, two talented teenage daughters, a new baby boy, a gorgeous home, and every opportunity in the world.

Until the day she awakens and sees a witch peering into her bedroom window—an old gray-haired woman dressed all in black who vanishes as quickly as she appears. It must be a play of the early morning light or the remnant of a waking dream, Bree tells herself, shaking off the bad feeling that overcomes her.

Later that day though, she spies the old woman again, in the parking lot of her daugh­ters’ private school . . . just minutes before Bree’s infant son, asleep in his car seat only a few feet away, vanishes. It happened so quickly—Bree looked away only for a second. There is a note left in his place, warning her that she is being is being watched; if she wants her baby back, she must not call the police or deviate in any way from the instructions that will follow.

The mysterious woman makes contact, and Bree learns she, too, is a mother. Why would another mother do this? What does she want? And why has she targeted Bree? Of course Bree will pay anything, do anything. It’s her child.

To get her baby back, Bree must complete one small—but critical—task. It seems harmless enough, but her action comes with a devastating price, making her complicit in a tangled web of tragedy and shocking secrets that could destroy everything she loves. It is the beginning of an odyssey that will lead Bree to dangerous places, explosive confrontations, and chilling truths.

Bree will do whatever it takes to protect her family—but what if the cost tears their world apart?

Content Warnings

  • Child abduction
  • Child murder
  • Domestic abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Cancer
  • Drug use
  • Gaslighting/emotional abuse
  • Classism
  • Sex and rape on page

 

Book Review

Mother May I is a rollercoaster of a ride. The stakes are high. Twists lie around EVERY corner.

I’d compare this pacing to No Exit by Taylor Adams. Because every single time you breathe a sigh of relief, you realise you still have so many pages left and you’re hit with an anxious wave of “oh no, what’s going to happen next?”

Based on the synopsis alone, I did worry that it might be like The Chain by Adrian McKinty. But the synopsis of the latter is very clear about how THAT story plays out. (I haven’t read it myself!) And the two are very different. There is no “abduct another child to get your child back” plot. Without giving too much away, I’ll say that it’s uh… a bit more manipulative than that.

There were two POVs though I’m not sure it was clear initially that this was the case? So you get first person narratives from both Bree and Marshall as they are very much in this nightmarish situation together. (Bree’s husband is out of town. Marshall is concerned about Bree’s sudden change in behaviour and is present for a pretty important scene and then he becomes integral to the rest of the story.)

My only (small) gripe was the length of the chapters. They were so long! I definitely have a preference on chapter length and this was not it. But with that said, the chapters were in no way tedious. They all pack a lot in and build on the tension and intrigue really well. So not really a criticism, more of a personal preference.

There’s a light romantic subplot which I enjoyed. It had a lot of depth to it, a big backstory and it wasn’t distracting at all. I will say that the conclusion while satisfying, didn’t give the level of detail that I would have liked in terms of the development of this element of the story. (Note: it gives a fair amount of detail. I’m just greedy and wanted more!)

Joshilyn Jackson was an entirely new-to-me author but after this one, I’m definitely interested in reading more of their work.

Characters

I thought that the development of Bree was great. She’s been playing a role for her whole life, desperately trying not to be like her mum who is extremely anxious and paranoid. But I got the impression that for Bree, those traits are there. Just repressed. Her instincts are quite powerful. However, she has this tendency to put on a smile and pick up the pieces rather than show any sign of vulnerability. And naturally, by the end, this has worn down a fair amount. It was one of the things I liked most about this book.

Who is the “witch”? And what are her motivations? I can’t discuss this is any detail because spoilers. But what I will say is that she’s a very interesting villain. Her motivations were reasonable. Unfortunately, her methods are questionable and if I may say so myself, pure evil. So… all in all, a pretty solid antagonist.

Read This If You…

  • Enjoy fast paced domestic thrillers with a lot of action
  • Want a thriller with a splash of romance thrown in
  • Enjoyed No Exit by Taylor Adams but want something with less violence
  • Can handle the content/trigger warnings – there’s some disturbing/graphic stuff in here!

Once again, thank you to the publishers for giving me the opportunity to review this title. And to you, for taking the time to read my review!

Will you be adding Mother May I to your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. Did you know I have a Bookshop.org store*? When you purchase books through my affiliate store, both myself and an independent bookstore will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can even choose to support your local indie with your purchase! 🙂

6 Comments

  • Stephanie @ Bookfever April 6, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I’m not a fan of long chapter either because I always want to finish a chapter before stopping but at least they weren’t tedious.

    • Hayley April 7, 2021 at 12:26 pm

      Right?? That’s exactly me! I also feel like if the chapters are quite short I’m more inclined to say “ah, I’ll just read one more chapter – why not?!” But when it takes a good 20/30 minutes to get through a chapter, that’s not a viable option most of the time. Lots of action though so worth it. 🙂

  • Jenny in Neverland April 8, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Eeeeek I hate long chapters!!! But this book does sound excellent – the cover and blurb drew me in instantly – so I think I’d be able to overlook it!

    • Hayley May 17, 2021 at 10:25 am

      I’m exactly the same, Jenny! Nothing I hate more than having to stop reading mid-chapter haha. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

  • Simona April 8, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    This sounds like an interesting book Hayley, I might pick it up myself! Thank you x

    • Hayley May 17, 2021 at 10:25 am

      Thanks Simona, hope you enjoy! 🙂

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