Twisted Threads by Kaylin McFarren is a revenge-based fiction novel that focuses on finding absolution through murder. Published by Creative Edge Publishing LLC in November 2017, McFarren brings the forth a story that is both sensual and mysterious with a strong female lead, Mariko Mitsui, who works as an assassin for the infamous Zakua-kai Yakuza family to seek forgiveness of her past actions. As this book is the fourth in McFarren’s Twisted series, there is a depth of knowledge that I believe readers need to know before delving into this book, as there are relationships, murders and past events that are all intertwined which aim to intensify the mystery and the suspense which coalesces within the narrative plotline of Twisted Threads.
Before I delve into an analysis of the book, I will briefly discuss the overarching premise of the novel. Essentially, Mitsui-san, the leader of the Zakua-kai family, gives orders for Mariko/Akira to assassinate another murderer that has links to Mitsui-san’s family. Mariko thus embarks on a cruise ship where her targets are vacationing, undercover as the innocent and naïve ‘Akira’. Whilst on the ship, murders abound and mystery surrounds. People are dying, and Mariko suspects the people she was brought to kill. However, there are twists and turns and characters reappearing which aims to leave the reader gasping in shock.
Although written quite elegantly, I give Twisted Threads a 3 out of 5 stars. I honestly believe that one needs to read the previous three books before even attempting to read Twisted Threads. It should not be advertised as a possible standalone, this needs to be read as a part of a continuous series. The novel started off quite strong and I was thoroughly enjoying it, however, it quickly lost momentum and thus, lost my attention. I figured out that I was not invested with the characters at all and I found the story itself, quite lacklustre. There was not enough action, not a well-developed thriller and the suspenseful element was completely predictable; I honestly did not care for the romance that blossomed between Mariko and Devon.
Mariko Mitsui would have been such a wonderfully brave and strong character as she had all the characteristics of being one amazing female protagonist. Nevertheless, like the storyline itself, her character just lost her strength and was taken completely over by her romantic relationship with Devon, to the point, that I forgot that this book was supposed to be an ‘action/thriller with romance’. Not only that, I also did not enjoy the way her ‘Japanese-ness’ was written in a way to emphasise her ‘exotic’ nature in comparison to the American characters. It was used to excuse such ridiculous statements such as referring to her as a ‘creature’ and not a woman.
The main male love interest, Devon Lyons, was a very two-dimensional character. Again, I honestly believe that if I read the full series I would have a better understanding of his character and I would feel more emotionally invested for his happiness; but I didn’t. He was a slightly boring character as I felt as though he wasn’t given an actual personality – just very focused on sex. Although, possible McFarren was aiming at writing Devon as a man who went through a traumatic experience of his mother leaving him at the age of eight, that he was a man who did not trust women, and thus, was scared to love; but, that was juxtaposed with his statement bemoaning the fact that his problem was falling in love with women too quick. It was a minefield of confusion.
I also do want to mention, as I believe readers should be aware, that there are two rape scenes depicted in this novel, and they are written very problematically. Specifically, it was written as though one would write a kinky exploration into BDSM, and not the fact that the person did not consent to the sexual intercourse. While I was reading it, I was very confused as to why McFarren wrote it as such and the story lost me even more.
The ‘villain’ so to speak, was lacking depth and I did not understand her transformation into a BDSM mistress. It felt disconnected and uninteresting. I was definitely disappointed with the execution of the storyline, perhaps because I just finished such a wonderful novel with slightly the same overall premise but was an absolutely fantastic read. The only aspect that I enjoyed about reading this story was the possibility of it gaining momentum and being as fabulous as I was hoping it was going to be. I’d love to hear what everyone else thought, though.
One super major problem I had with this book was how it painted a rape scene. It was written like a kinky exploration into BDSM, and not the fact that Devon did not consent to sexual intercourse with Yuki, the ‘villain’. It was a very problematic scene, and I still don’t understand why Yuki suddenly became a BDSM mistress and outfitted chains in the hotel room on the cruise ship just for the possibility that she would rape Devon, as it honestly came out of nowhere. The unmasking of who ‘the watcher’ was, was also not well done. I had no reaction, I didn’t gasp in surprise, I just rolled my eyes and finished the book. There should have been more depth, more intensity and more excitement to add to the thrill of the suspense.
This sounded like a rant, and I apologise, but I was slightly disappointed by this book.
Until next time! Happy reading!
NOTE: I was able to receive this book for free thanks to OnlineBookClub.org and you will also find this review posted there.