Book review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Title: The Silent Patient

Author: Alex Michaelides

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 7th February 2019

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


“Only she knows what happened.
Only I can make her speak.

I love him so totally, completely, sometimes it threatens to overwhelm me.
Sometimes I think-
No. I won’t write about that.

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?

My review:

“You become increasingly comfortable with madness – and not just the madness of others, but your own. We’re all crazy, I believe, just in different ways.”

I have been waiting for a psychological thriller to blow me away for years. Endings almost never shock me and I can see twists coming from miles away. Throw in a few unlikable characters and a shaky plot and it’s no surprise that my disappointment grows with every psychological thriller I finish. Although there have been a few pleasant surprises over the years, nothing can quite compare to The Silent Patient.

The writing in The Silent Patient is articulate and succinct. The author develops Alicia’s voice, or lack thereof, in a compelling way through the use of her diary, and the jump from the first-person journal narrative leading up to the murder to Theo’s current point of view is incredibly effective. Although Alicia chooses not to speak, she still remains a vocal character through the use of her body language and attitude which I found to be one of the most powerful and impressive aspects in the beginning of the book.

When it comes to characters in psychological thrillers I am always intrigued by mysterious characters who seem to be hiding something and both Theo and Alicia fit perfectly in this category. It was clear from the start that Alicia had been through a traumatic event but it was frustrating that so little information was shared to explain why she refused to speak. This concept puzzled me the entire time and I was both mindful of the possibility that she is the enemy and concerned that she could be a tormented victim not yet ready to speak the truth. Theo was just as complex and the simplicity of his backstory had me question his intentions and interest in Alicia. Ultimately it was the intensity of the interactions between these two characters which impressed me and had me swiftly flipping the pages.

Without a doubt my favourite part of The Silent Patient was the ending. With each chapter I was sure that I was closer to finding out the truth about the murder of Alicia’s husband and a few chapters before the end I was almost certain that I had figured it out. I have never been so stunned by an ending before. I had to read it back several times and still couldn’t believe it. It stayed with me for a long time afterwards and with time I recalled several hints which were revealed but which I didn’t pick up on. The ease with which Alex Michaelides reveals these signs is astonishing and he deserves all the praise for this skill.

The Silent Patient consists of all the necessary ingredients for a gripping psychological thriller: a cast of complex characters, a plot thick with tension and a compelling mystery begging to be solved. It held my attention until the very end and left me with the conclusive feeling that this is one of the best books in its genre. Readers who relish unforeseen twists and unexpected endings will find a lot to love here.

“Perhaps some of us are simply born evil, and despite our best efforts we remain that way.”

19 thoughts on “Book review: The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

  1. What a brilliant review, Darina! You are right, it is hard now to find a psychological thriller that really bowls you over, and I am so glad you have managed to find one here. This book has received a lot of hype and it seems like it is worth all of it! I shall definitely read it soon after finding out your thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Stephen! I agree with you, there are so many psychological thrillers out there but there is always something missing and a lot of them end up disappointing. I think you’ll enjoy this one, I’m definitely looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it once you read it!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review, Darina! I must say I was also surprised by the ending although it left me with an aftertaste of unease somewhat. It was a fantastic psychological thriller, very true, and enjoyable. Look forward to your next review.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Fantastic review, Darina! I too have felt like psychological thrillers were reusing a formula that was way too predictable and made so many of these books a drag to read in the end. Then again, I still like to pick one up here and then for the occasional thrill and I’m glad to hear this was the case! It really does sound pretty good. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  4. uhh, i’m very very very excited for this one! i’m hard to surprise or shock so something that does really stays with me. from all the hype i’ve heard, this one could definitely fit into that category and i’m so so so ready to fall into the twist and turns. thank you for sharing your review! especially the “I have never been so stunned by an ending before” bit makes me want to read the silent patient even more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this book! It definitely has some quite unexpected twists and always keeps you guessing so if you are always one step ahead when you read thrillers you might find this one a nice surprise!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: My top books of 2020 | Facing the Story

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