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Walking Through Needles

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A riveting, dark debut psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Megan Abbott. When Sam Mayfair was sixteen, her life was shattered by an abuser close to her. News of her abuser's murder fifteen years later should have put an end to the torture she's endured because of one decision plaguing her life. But with her stepbrother Eric as the prim A riveting, dark debut psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Megan Abbott. When Sam Mayfair was sixteen, her life was shattered by an abuser close to her. News of her abuser's murder fifteen years later should have put an end to the torture she's endured because of one decision plaguing her life. But with her stepbrother Eric as the prime suspect, Sam is flung back into the hell of her rural Oklahoma childhood. As Sam tries to help exonerate Eric while hiding certain truths of their past from investigators, details of the murder unravel. And Sam quickly learns some people, including herself, will do anything to keep their secrets buried deep. Walking Through Needles is a riveting and unflinching look at violence, sexuality, and desire from a compelling and unforgettable new voice in Heather Levy.


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A riveting, dark debut psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Megan Abbott. When Sam Mayfair was sixteen, her life was shattered by an abuser close to her. News of her abuser's murder fifteen years later should have put an end to the torture she's endured because of one decision plaguing her life. But with her stepbrother Eric as the prim A riveting, dark debut psychological thriller perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, S.J. Watson, and Megan Abbott. When Sam Mayfair was sixteen, her life was shattered by an abuser close to her. News of her abuser's murder fifteen years later should have put an end to the torture she's endured because of one decision plaguing her life. But with her stepbrother Eric as the prime suspect, Sam is flung back into the hell of her rural Oklahoma childhood. As Sam tries to help exonerate Eric while hiding certain truths of their past from investigators, details of the murder unravel. And Sam quickly learns some people, including herself, will do anything to keep their secrets buried deep. Walking Through Needles is a riveting and unflinching look at violence, sexuality, and desire from a compelling and unforgettable new voice in Heather Levy.

30 review for Walking Through Needles

  1. 4 out of 5

    Heather Levy

    I mean, if you don't love what you write what's even the point? I mean, if you don't love what you write what's even the point?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Behring

    This is a difficult book to review. The story is about sexual abuse and the ability to survive, but also a murder mystery. In some ways it feels wrong to say I enjoyed the book, because I too was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and it was very hard to read those parts, but I did enjoy the mystery part. All in all I give this book a 3.5. Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  3. 4 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    Oh wow, this book was a punch in the gut. Very dark and raw with real flawed humans ( some that make your skin crawl). The characters are amazingly fleshed out, it's got amazing tension and pacing, and the story-telling carries the day. Walking Through Needles is a powerful and intense read that takes an unflinching look at sexual assault. It’s handled delicately and with care, and it’s very evident that author Heather Levy did a great deal of research and really cared about the st Oh wow, this book was a punch in the gut. Very dark and raw with real flawed humans ( some that make your skin crawl). The characters are amazingly fleshed out, it's got amazing tension and pacing, and the story-telling carries the day. Walking Through Needles is a powerful and intense read that takes an unflinching look at sexual assault. It’s handled delicately and with care, and it’s very evident that author Heather Levy did a great deal of research and really cared about the story she was writing. The novel is a slow burn as it weaves between 1994 and 2009. It paints an honest picture of the emotional impact the assault has caused Sam and those who loved her. It’s difficult and relevant, and has moments of suspense that lead to a darkly satisfying conclusion that I didn’t see coming. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect and the investigation into the murder of Sam's step-father. This was an amazing, hard-hitting debut by an author who knows how to makes you squirm. Disclosure: Thank you NetGalley, Heather Levy and Polis Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #WalkingThroughNeedles #NetGalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    Em & Tess

    We are going to try to be as diplomatic as possible during this review. *Trigger warning*: . . . . . rape; sexual abuse; abortion; sexual assault; sexual violence. This book is *extremely* problematic. This book could be extremely damaging to victims of rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual abuse. Firstly, the synopsis indicates that this is a “thriller”, but for this reader, there is nothing thrilling about this book - the “whodunit” aspect is weak and far in the background, and instead a We are going to try to be as diplomatic as possible during this review. *Trigger warning*: . . . . . rape; sexual abuse; abortion; sexual assault; sexual violence. This book is *extremely* problematic. This book could be extremely damaging to victims of rape, sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual abuse. Firstly, the synopsis indicates that this is a “thriller”, but for this reader, there is nothing thrilling about this book - the “whodunit” aspect is weak and far in the background, and instead at the forefront is gratuitous sexual violence. And even worse, it unacceptably gives credence to the narrative of “she asked for it” and “she liked it”. While the author may have been attempting to normalize and validate masochism as a sexual preference, a story of sexual abuse, rape, especially that involving children, is not the place - and certainly not under the guise of a psychological thriller. Appreciative to Net Galley and the publisher for the advanced readers copy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Janilyn Kocher

    I read a lot of things that would make the ordinary person’s stomach turn. However, even reading Walking Through Needles made me nauseous. It’s a dysfunctional, depraved story. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I did skim over some parts because they were just too sordid and sick. I didn’t care for any of the characters in this book except the grandmother. Total miss for me. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the early copy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    P.J. Vernon

    A stunning, devastating debut, WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES is nothing shy of a page-turner. With all the darkness honesty demands, Levy's portrayal of abuse, trauma, and the profound strength of those who live it is absolutely gut-wrenching. As the story's taut mystery unfolds with beautiful prose across past and present, a deeper, far more monstrous truth awaits readers: nothing's capable of cruelty quite like the human heart. A stunning, devastating debut, WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES is nothing shy of a page-turner. With all the darkness honesty demands, Levy's portrayal of abuse, trauma, and the profound strength of those who live it is absolutely gut-wrenching. As the story's taut mystery unfolds with beautiful prose across past and present, a deeper, far more monstrous truth awaits readers: nothing's capable of cruelty quite like the human heart.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeneva Rose

    Dark, raw, and disturbing. Walking Through Needles is an engrossing read that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the final page. Bravo, Heather Levy! 👏🏻

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mer

    A sinister, white knuckler of a novel. An astonishing debut from a writer with a savage eye for the darker facets of human desire and the messy fallout of abuse. Not exploitative in the slightest, but it does require a brave, adventurous reader. These repeated calls for trigger warning are strange to me. The back of the book tells you it's a button pusher. Pretty sure the moment one of these "triggered" readers got to the first passage which made them uncomfortable they tuned out. Perhaps Ransom A sinister, white knuckler of a novel. An astonishing debut from a writer with a savage eye for the darker facets of human desire and the messy fallout of abuse. Not exploitative in the slightest, but it does require a brave, adventurous reader. These repeated calls for trigger warning are strange to me. The back of the book tells you it's a button pusher. Pretty sure the moment one of these "triggered" readers got to the first passage which made them uncomfortable they tuned out. Perhaps Ransom Riggs is more their taste. Uncomfortable, unnerving, unforgettable.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Thacker

    I’m definitely in the minority with my 2 star rating but this story fell flat for me and I could not connect with any of the characters. Just not for me. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this early release in exchange for my review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robert Intriago

    I like noir mystery books but in my opinion this one goes a little too far for me. It has drugs, violence, rape, forced abortions and sado-masochism. The premise of the story is good and the characters well developed. It is also well written. The story takes place in Oklahoma and the narration is told through the eyes of two people: Samantha and Eric. The plot is divided between 1994 and 2009, in an alternating manner. They lived in the same household in 1994 and they reconnect by chance in 2009 I like noir mystery books but in my opinion this one goes a little too far for me. It has drugs, violence, rape, forced abortions and sado-masochism. The premise of the story is good and the characters well developed. It is also well written. The story takes place in Oklahoma and the narration is told through the eyes of two people: Samantha and Eric. The plot is divided between 1994 and 2009, in an alternating manner. They lived in the same household in 1994 and they reconnect by chance in 2009. A good beginning for this new author. I hope the next one is not as dark as this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sara Spock

    Wowza! Levy's debut "Walking Through Needles" is a stunningly dark look at abuse and exploration of desire. Each sentence is a work of art, crafted to gritty perfection. The slow reveal through timeline hopping is done very well, causing the suspense to build to a pitch perfect crescendo and ending with an impeccable denouement. Levy has mastered the two points of view, giving each character a very distinct voice that not many debut novelists can manage. If you're a fan of family secrets, dark d Wowza! Levy's debut "Walking Through Needles" is a stunningly dark look at abuse and exploration of desire. Each sentence is a work of art, crafted to gritty perfection. The slow reveal through timeline hopping is done very well, causing the suspense to build to a pitch perfect crescendo and ending with an impeccable denouement. Levy has mastered the two points of view, giving each character a very distinct voice that not many debut novelists can manage. If you're a fan of family secrets, dark domestic suspense, and crime novels, you will not want to miss this one. Cannot wait to see where Levy's career takes her because it's going to be amazing. Thanks to #netgalley for an ARC of this fantastic book! #WalkingThroughNeedles #HeatherLevy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Underwood

    I was so excited to receive my preordered copy a week early! This novel was dark and twisted, beautifully written, and satisfying to the end! I applaud the author for her courage to write about something that is perceived as taboo, offering a glimpse into another lifestyle. Levy gives an excellent representation of how messy and mixed-up feelings can be for someone groomed in an abusive situation. Levy jumps between two timelines to tell this story, weaving in great development for both characte I was so excited to receive my preordered copy a week early! This novel was dark and twisted, beautifully written, and satisfying to the end! I applaud the author for her courage to write about something that is perceived as taboo, offering a glimpse into another lifestyle. Levy gives an excellent representation of how messy and mixed-up feelings can be for someone groomed in an abusive situation. Levy jumps between two timelines to tell this story, weaving in great development for both characters through their perspectives as teens - then as adults, while the mystery of the murderer's identity builds to the end. I couldn't put this book down!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donna Wilson

    Gross. Gave up by chapter 10.

  14. 5 out of 5

    McBreakneck

    Walking Through Needles - Heather Levy Jeri lives with her teenage daughter Sam on a farm in Oklahoma. When Jeri's new boyfriend , the rugged and good looking, Isaac moves in, together with his son Arrow there are going to be some big changes. Sam is at an age of being curious about boys and sex, she already knows she has a craving for pain and being strangled. It is a challenging aspect, which I thought was handled very well, never used gratuitously and central to Sam's character and some of the Walking Through Needles - Heather Levy Jeri lives with her teenage daughter Sam on a farm in Oklahoma. When Jeri's new boyfriend , the rugged and good looking, Isaac moves in, together with his son Arrow there are going to be some big changes. Sam is at an age of being curious about boys and sex, she already knows she has a craving for pain and being strangled. It is a challenging aspect, which I thought was handled very well, never used gratuitously and central to Sam's character and some of the key relationships in the book. The story is told with a split timeline 1994 and 2009. In 2009 one of the characters is dead and the others are suspects. It is a fairly dark book, I was reminded of Dark Places and a little of My Dark Vanessa and Walking Through Needles can hold its head up in such quality company. I thought the character development was excellent, the plot tightly woven with the chapters in 1994 and 2009 continually adding to our understanding, and pushing the story forward at a good pace. After a brilliant and compulsive first half, I found it flagged a little in the third quarter before a satisfying conclusion. Not quite a must read, but still a challenging, sensitive and unusual character driven murder mystery. Some may find it controversial but it deserves to do very well and I have an admiration for authors who push the boundaries and create unique characters. Thanks to Netgalley and Polis Books

  15. 4 out of 5

    BookNerdsBrainDump

    Short Take: Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope (*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*) Ok, Duckies, this is where I usually write a clever intro and tell you a little bit about a book’s plot, but I’m not going to say much about this one, because it would just be one long trigger warning. Just be glad that I read it so you don’t have to. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a voracious reader of all kinds of dark & crazy stuff, and I Short Take: Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope (*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*) Ok, Duckies, this is where I usually write a clever intro and tell you a little bit about a book’s plot, but I’m not going to say much about this one, because it would just be one long trigger warning. Just be glad that I read it so you don’t have to. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a voracious reader of all kinds of dark & crazy stuff, and I love me some titillation. I don’t mind adult content in my books one bit (I even seek it out on occasion) and “deviance” doesn’t freak me out that much. What consenting adults do with their bathing suit parts can be quite entertaining. But Walking Through Needles goes too far, over and over. Repeated descriptions of the worst kinds of abuse inflicted on teenage girls might be “realistic” in the sense that young people are preyed upon and abused, and often confused by their experiences, but this book revels in it. It’s hideous and not at all enjoyable. The central mystery could be a good one, but it’s completely overshadowed by rape, sadism, and forced abortions. Unless you’re the kind of person who enjoys that kind of thing, just skip this one. And if you are the kind of person who enjoys that kind of thing, seek help. The Nerd’s Rating: ONE DEPRESSED NEURON (and a long hot shower. Because I feel dirty all over and not in the good way right now.)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cynsonya Wallace

    I honestly can't believe this is Levy's first novel. Talk about a hit out of the ballpark! This will be an author to keep a close eye on going forward. I'd place WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES right up there with the likes of Ruth Ware, Alice Feeney and Sarah Pinborough. We are introduced to Sam and Arrow (Eric) through two era's. Then and now. The book shifts effortlessly through time allowing us to see how these two ended up being the damaged individuals they become. Both filled with longing, heartbre I honestly can't believe this is Levy's first novel. Talk about a hit out of the ballpark! This will be an author to keep a close eye on going forward. I'd place WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES right up there with the likes of Ruth Ware, Alice Feeney and Sarah Pinborough. We are introduced to Sam and Arrow (Eric) through two era's. Then and now. The book shifts effortlessly through time allowing us to see how these two ended up being the damaged individuals they become. Both filled with longing, heartbreak and regrets. You fall a little in love with Arrow while wanting to throttle Sam at times but still have empathy for the broken girl and woman she becomes. You'll love Grandma and find frustration with other family members. When a murder charge is launched all things are possible. Was it the angry, protective Arrow? Was it the damaged beyond belief Sam? Or was it someone else? All things are possible with this book. I couldn't put it down and read it straight through.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dana Goldstein

    I acknowledge that this is going to sound twisted, but it's somewhat refreshing to read a story where abuse isn't all about being a victim. From the very first page, I was engaged. Walking Through Needles explores a dark side of humanity that many might not know can even exist in human beings. The timeline hopping was smooth and never once did I feel lost about what was happening. The suspense builds, uncovering character flaws and strengths, walking a fine line between desire and trauma. A rema I acknowledge that this is going to sound twisted, but it's somewhat refreshing to read a story where abuse isn't all about being a victim. From the very first page, I was engaged. Walking Through Needles explores a dark side of humanity that many might not know can even exist in human beings. The timeline hopping was smooth and never once did I feel lost about what was happening. The suspense builds, uncovering character flaws and strengths, walking a fine line between desire and trauma. A remarkable debut novel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Suz Jay

    “It felt good because pain made her feel in control of her mind. It made the dark thoughts she had disappear for a while. Thoughts of her daddy, thoughts of never being able to get out of Blanchard and being stuck on the farm helping her mama and Grandma Haylin for the rest of her life.”* Sam’s life changes when her mother’s new boyfriend Isaac moves in with his son Eric. Isaac’s volatile moods and her conflicted feelings about Eric create a dangerous dynamic as does their violent past that lande “It felt good because pain made her feel in control of her mind. It made the dark thoughts she had disappear for a while. Thoughts of her daddy, thoughts of never being able to get out of Blanchard and being stuck on the farm helping her mama and Grandma Haylin for the rest of her life.”* Sam’s life changes when her mother’s new boyfriend Isaac moves in with his son Eric. Isaac’s volatile moods and her conflicted feelings about Eric create a dangerous dynamic as does their violent past that landed Eric in trouble. The story, which follows two separate timelines (1994 and 2009) from Sam and Eric’s points of view, unveils a blood-tinged past and an unsolved murder. I recently attended a panel at Balticon which discussed how non-linear storytelling can create anticipation. This novel exemplifies this technique. Never did the use feel manipulative, because of the great way the book was structured. Showing the events in 1994 as its own timeline, rather than as standard flashbacks creates an immediacy that makes the events all the more powerful. Seeing both Sam and Eric’s perspectives gives the book dimension and helps the reader understand their motivations. I really liked the female-focused cast and the agency the characters display throughout the novel. The mystery component is developed well and kept me guessing as to the identity of the murderer. Please note that this novel deals with violence and dark themes such as rape, abuse, and other types of violence against women. I felt that these themes and issues are handled in a respectful and realistic manner and were no way gratuitous, but this may not be the book for readers who may be triggered by such topics. Because of my investment in these amazing characters and world, I hoped a bit for an epilogue in current times, but the book stands well without it. I am blown away that WALKING THROUGH NEEDLES is a debut novel. I ardently hope that Levy is hard at work at her follow up, because I can’t wait to read it. This book is a strong contender for awards in “best debut” category. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to NetGalley and Polis Books for providing an Advance Reader Copy. *Please note that my review is based on uncorrected text.

  19. 5 out of 5

    RedRedtheycallmeRed

    3.5 STARS This was a very disturbing book, it's not going to be for everybody. The story is told from the POV of Sam and Eric/Arrow, going back and forth between 1994 when they were teens and recent step siblings, and 2009 when they reconnect after finding out Eric's father is dead. Eric was my favorite character in the book. His mom dies of cancer when he's only 13, and his dad is a complete piece of shit. Eric really doesn't have anyone in his corner until he meets Sam. Sam is such a closed-off c 3.5 STARS This was a very disturbing book, it's not going to be for everybody. The story is told from the POV of Sam and Eric/Arrow, going back and forth between 1994 when they were teens and recent step siblings, and 2009 when they reconnect after finding out Eric's father is dead. Eric was my favorite character in the book. His mom dies of cancer when he's only 13, and his dad is a complete piece of shit. Eric really doesn't have anyone in his corner until he meets Sam. Sam is such a closed-off character, even reading her POV I felt like she was still mostly a mystery. Her teenage self is so confused, and her mother and grandmother are either oblivious or not willing to get involved. Sam really doesn't stand a chance. I didn't figure out who the killer was, that part kept me guessing all the way through. There are plenty of terrible people to point the finger at, and they all want to keep their secrets buried.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Colasanti

    A great, atmospheric read, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The author does a great job with the dual timeline and the characters are well drawn. Recommend to people who like boundary pushing, character driven stories

  21. 5 out of 5

    Eddie Generous

    A gritty, violent, textured suspense mystery. This one does exactly what the synopsis warns. Totally delivers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    William Koon

    The saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound” typifies my reading. I start it. I finish it. I am making an exception for Heather Levy’s ponderously bad “Walking Through Needles.” It is relentless in its bad writing with leaden dialogue and unfinished metaphors. If levy had wished for some sort of Grecian mythic brother-sister-father incest exegesis, I just got lost. Pair this with the heroine’s need for asphyxiation and other acts to enhance her sexual pleasure , and I chose the exit. I’m half wa The saying, “In for a penny, in for a pound” typifies my reading. I start it. I finish it. I am making an exception for Heather Levy’s ponderously bad “Walking Through Needles.” It is relentless in its bad writing with leaden dialogue and unfinished metaphors. If levy had wished for some sort of Grecian mythic brother-sister-father incest exegesis, I just got lost. Pair this with the heroine’s need for asphyxiation and other acts to enhance her sexual pleasure , and I chose the exit. I’m half way in the book and all the way out.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Lu

    Walking Through Needles is a lyrical, unsettling crime novel about forbidden desires and family secrets that won’t stay buried. In the winter of 1994, two teens enter the woods surrounding their rural Oklahoma farm where tragic events upend their lives forever. At sixteen, Sam Mayfair discovered her budding sexuality was intertwined with pain. Growing up without a father, Sam could not help but be curious about the new male presence in the house when her mother fell for Isaac, an enigmatic and ch Walking Through Needles is a lyrical, unsettling crime novel about forbidden desires and family secrets that won’t stay buried. In the winter of 1994, two teens enter the woods surrounding their rural Oklahoma farm where tragic events upend their lives forever. At sixteen, Sam Mayfair discovered her budding sexuality was intertwined with pain. Growing up without a father, Sam could not help but be curious about the new male presence in the house when her mother fell for Isaac, an enigmatic and charming widower with a shy fifteen-year-old son, Eric. As she grew close to her new stepbrother, Sam was also irrevocably drawn to the cunning manipulation of her stepfather. When Isaac’s abuse turned increasingly violent, Eric was the only hope Sam had of escape. The two devised a plan to be rid of Isaac once and for all. But it all went terribly wrong. Fifteen years later, Sam and Eric are living separate lives with no contact from one another, until detectives knock on their doors: Isaac’s long-dead body was found, and Eric is the prime suspect. Sam refuses to believe the man she still loves is capable of murder. But when her obsession with clearing Eric’s name plunges her back into the hellish childhood she’s worked so hard to forget, she’s forced to confront truths far more threatening than her traumatic memories. Isaac left behind dangerous enemies, and Sam is not the only one willing to do whatever it takes to keep her secrets buried deep. Told in the alternating POVs of Sam and Eric in the past and the present, Walking Through Needles shines a light on the legacy of abuse and the empowerment of reclaimed sexuality. It’s perfect for fans of Kate Elizabeth Russell’s My Dark Vanessa and Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. It grabbed me from the moment I read the first sentence and didn’t let go even long after I finished turning the last page. Full disclosure: I'm the literary agent who represents this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kyle Levy

    Heather really hits it out of the park with her debut novel. She keeps you on the edge of your seat through the whole book. I can’t wait to read what’s next!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawna Borman

    I wanted something a little more intense this month, so I decided to request a thriller mystery instead of a cozy. Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy sounded like just the ticket. It was released from Polis Books on the 29th. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get to it! Walking Through Needles follows Sam as she struggles to deal with the repercussions of the abuse she suffered as a teenager. When she disco I wanted something a little more intense this month, so I decided to request a thriller mystery instead of a cozy. Walking Through Needles by Heather Levy sounded like just the ticket. It was released from Polis Books on the 29th. As usual, I must thank them and NetGalley for access to an ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. So, let’s get to it! Walking Through Needles follows Sam as she struggles to deal with the repercussions of the abuse she suffered as a teenager. When she discovers her abuser has been murdered, it forces her to relive that time and the confusion and inner turmoil that went with it. But she needs to focus on the here and now in order to keep an innocent man from being charged with the crime, as well as keeping herself out of the spotlight. But who actually killed him? Sam isn’t sure she really wants to know. I have to be honest. This book feels more like an excuse to write softcore stepsibling porn that dabbles in kink than an actual thriller. I mean, the very first scene is Sam masturbating while choking herself. That’s an awkward start to a book when you’re not prepared for it. However, the whole porn vibe isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Porn is fine. It can even be great. This porn is not. It’s rape-y and underage (she’s 16-17 during the rape parts). And the murder plot feels like an afterthought. Something thrown in to make the actual story more palatable to a wider audience. It was super easy to figure out who killed the dude. So easy that the red herrings (those side plots meant to throw you off the scent) came across as ridiculous. Aside from the lack of actual mystery, it was a story (neither good nor horrible) if you’re into dark stuff. It at least tries to handle the complexities of rape, especially when it comes to a grown ass man taking advantage of a teenager’s willingness when she really has no clue what she’s getting into. It just doesn’t do it well. There’s this whole “I was asking for it” mentality when Sam’s younger and it never really addresses when she finally stops blaming herself. Everything is skimmed over. Anyway, it just wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for, so I wasn’t ready for it. The characters are all a little on the flat side. Sam’s a budding masochist who matures into the role as an adult, but she never really becomes an actual person for me. She’s pretty stereotypical. Isaac has the potential to be an interesting character, but we never get a glimpse into his motivations/why he’s the way he is, so he ends up being a typical asshat. Arrow is the most interesting character because he actually demonstrates a willingness to change and adapt, but even he doesn’t get his due. Mom and Grandma are caricatures. Everyone else is just meh. They all have some kind of potential, but sadly fall flat. As far as the writing goes, it was fine. There was nothing captivating about it, but nothing to complain about either. It was just words on the page. That’s about it. But I should probably stop thinking about this book because the more I do, the more I dislike it. Ultimately, Walking Through Needles was not my cup of tea. I have no desire to pick up another book by Heather Levy just because of this one. It might be because I wasn’t in the mind space for something like this. It’s not like I haven’t read and enjoyed things even darker than this. But this one didn’t do anything for me. Overall, I gave it 2 out of 5 stars. Closer to 1.5 stars. Mostly because there are people who apparently enjoyed it, even if I’m not one of them. If you’re into softcore porn with a super dark storyline, you might enjoy this. If you’re looking for a thriller, this is not the story you want.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Heather L

    This is a very dark story mostly about desire, the darker side of desire that is. Sam (Samantha) is a young high school student in 1994 and she is a respected bank manager in 2009. The story is told from those two timelines and from Sam's perspective and from Arrow (Eric) her stepbrother. Sam knows from a very young age that she enjoys strangulation and pain, in fact craves it in order to get a satisfying release. Arrow and his father move in with Sam and her mom and become a blended family. Arr This is a very dark story mostly about desire, the darker side of desire that is. Sam (Samantha) is a young high school student in 1994 and she is a respected bank manager in 2009. The story is told from those two timelines and from Sam's perspective and from Arrow (Eric) her stepbrother. Sam knows from a very young age that she enjoys strangulation and pain, in fact craves it in order to get a satisfying release. Arrow and his father move in with Sam and her mom and become a blended family. Arrow is about Sam's age and an attraction blooms between them. Arrow's father, Isaac, also finds Sam attractive and is somehow able to figure out about her darker side. The mystery part of the story I did not find all that interesting, reading about how Sam overcame her desires to escape Isaac was the more interesting part. Having known someone who also enjoyed pain in order to achieve release, the thoughts that went through Sam's mind resonated with me and really brought Sam to life. Overall a good read, I would recommend. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Susanne

    Thank you to the author, Polis Books and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a dark and sordid read, and I felt soiled after reading it. Trigger warnings necessary include rape; sexual abuse; abortion; sexual assault; sexual violence. Although the blurb has this listed as a psychological thriller, there is nothing thrilling about this book. The crime and investigative aspect is a weak strand in the whole and instead gratuitous sexual violence is at the forefront of the Thank you to the author, Polis Books and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This is a dark and sordid read, and I felt soiled after reading it. Trigger warnings necessary include rape; sexual abuse; abortion; sexual assault; sexual violence. Although the blurb has this listed as a psychological thriller, there is nothing thrilling about this book. The crime and investigative aspect is a weak strand in the whole and instead gratuitous sexual violence is at the forefront of the .story. Not only that, but the book goes with the completely unacceptable storyline of “she asked for it” and “she liked it”. I can understand that the author might have been attempting to normalize masochism as a sexual preference - which is perfectly valid - but a story of sexual abuse, especially involving children, is not the place to do that.

  28. 5 out of 5

    JP

    A good debut psycho thriller. Leaving all the same painful marks as “My Absolute Darling” and “My Dark Vanessa.” This had painfully dark and twisted secrets. The things happening made me squirm and flinch. There was a fine line that got blurry and then it didn’t. I wanted to put it down. I wanted to keep reading. The writing was great and I’ll be thinking about this for awhile. There is some pretty bad stuff in this book but it flowed and I identified with the characters. I look forward to this A good debut psycho thriller. Leaving all the same painful marks as “My Absolute Darling” and “My Dark Vanessa.” This had painfully dark and twisted secrets. The things happening made me squirm and flinch. There was a fine line that got blurry and then it didn’t. I wanted to put it down. I wanted to keep reading. The writing was great and I’ll be thinking about this for awhile. There is some pretty bad stuff in this book but it flowed and I identified with the characters. I look forward to this authors next book. I highly recommend this if you love realistic fiction. Thanks Polis Books via Netgalley.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exhange for an honest review. I found "Walking Through Needles" by Heather Levy to be an addictive story that pulled me in & didn't let me go until its final page. It was a dark, raw & disturbing debut novel about abuse & desire. The writing style, telling the story through dual timelines, was done very well. I would love to read what Ms. Levy decides to write next. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exhange for an honest review. I found "Walking Through Needles" by Heather Levy to be an addictive story that pulled me in & didn't let me go until its final page. It was a dark, raw & disturbing debut novel about abuse & desire. The writing style, telling the story through dual timelines, was done very well. I would love to read what Ms. Levy decides to write next.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    Not My Cup of Tea I really did not like this book. I do believe some people might like it though. Masochism as a choice is beyond my comprehension. The main character is a very troubled young women who lusts after her stepfather. You get no backstory on what trauma this child may have suffered. The father is literally not around and the mother gets no character development other than she is Christian. It just wasn’t my cup of tea!

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