Content/Trigger Warnings: Domestic violence, stalking, graphic discussions of miscarriage and stillbirth, polygamy, references to child abuse, references to murder and suicide, infertility, gun violence, murder, mentions of clausterphobia, trauma, and much more!
Friends, this wasn’t it for me. I don’t know where to begin with this. How to express how many times I cringed, to talk about how this book affected my mental health, or the fact that after I finished reading this book I felt completely drained and left on a terrible note. This is my first Tarryn Fisher book and honestly, I’m disappointed.
Our story follows our main character, twenty-eight year old Thursday, who’s married to Seth. Seth has two other wives besides Thursday. She doesn’t know anything about these other wives, but one day, everything changes when Thursday finds something. Something that’s going to wake her up to something horrifying.
The best place I can start with this is the beginning. Despite the slow build, I was really enjoying the the beginning. With that kind of beginning, the author could’ve taken it in a really dark and creative path. So I liked how the foundation to our story was being built. It was really promising which makes the rest of this even more disappointing.
The other thing I want to address is the way miscarriage and mental health have gone hand in hand in this book. Despite the fact that the author took these to the extreme, I’m glad that the author showed how miscarriages can impact someone’s mental health and how hard it is to come to terms with that kind of loss.
It would have been fantastic if the author actually cared enough to list content/trigger warnings. Now, speaking about the miscarriage and mental health, I had so many issues with this. Let me make one thing clear, I have had two miscarriages in the past, have fertility issues, and have struggled with mental health for years. So I’m going to expressing how a lot of this really sent me for a loop. Starting with the mental health, the author took the mental health to the absolute extremes in this book and getting closer to the end of the book kept repeatedly stating how those who are mentally ill, those who are in mental institutions are “crazy”. This is extremely harmful terminology and as someone who has battled against their mental health for years, when I read that it felt like someone had crushed my soul. This is very problematic and degrading, bottom-line. Reading those sections, you can feel how much the author believes that and it’s when authors paint representation like this that it becomes harmful, it can influence others to believe this, and nothing good comes from any of this. If you’re going to write about mental health, do your research and represent it properly because this wasn’t it. As for the miscarriage, the whole book revolves around the miscarriage. So if this is a sensitive topic for you, don’t pick it up. The miscarriage is used as a whole plot device and it’s a lot to try to read through. We get a scene where the husband, Seth may have caused two miscarriages, but we never find out the answer to that and yet it’s hinted that he did, but never elaborated on. For the most part, it felt like the miscarriage was used for shock value or to help push the story forward. The whole thing was handled really poorly and with no sensitivity towards those who have suffered miscarriages.
“Amazing how once you open a door for something, there’s no going back. All you can do is brace yourself as you get sucked in, deeper and deeper.”
I wish I could stop there, but there’s other things that need to be addressed. For example, the mental institution representation. Completely non-believable. It’s very clear the author never did any research on this because actual mental hospitals have tight regulations, security that won’t quit, and nurses that have eyes like hawks. And when all else fails, most doors in mental hospitals only work with keycards or a physical key. It almost felt like author decided to create their own Arkham Asylum. The author also thought it was productive to include a whole bit about how “if you pretend” to get better then you’ll get out faster. This was a huge slap to the face of professionals who work in mental wards, mental institutions, and have made it their job to help those who struggle with mental health. It was literally like saying they’re not observant enough to notice when one of their clients isn’t actually improving or may be acting along. As I said, most people who make this their profession in life have eyes like hawks.
And there’s plenty other issues with this book. I’m not a big thriller or horror reader, but even I know that every cliche trope from those two genres have felt like they were thrown into this book. The plot holes still plague my mind and I still wish I had answers. We also get little scraps of Mormonism in this book and when you think we might see some insight to those religious beliefs or something, we get nothing. We also have a racist jab at Hispanics and a scene with a transphobic remark. Then there’s the fact that throughout this entire book all you feel is hatred. You feel hatred for the husband, for the other wives, for the ex, for the parents, for the coworkers, a little hatred towards the best friend, and even self-hatred from the main character. It was a never ending river of hatred. That amount of hatred this book has is enough to make someone sick.
Overall, I don’t want to waste more time talking about this book than what I already have. I understand why this book would appeal to mystery/thriller readers, but you need to understand that there’s no social awareness and that a lot of the content in this book is extremely harmful, problematic, and degrading. This book didn’t work for me, it wasn’t it, and I want to bleach the memory of this book from my mind.
Buddy read with Destiny at Howling Libraries | Her Review 💜
10 thoughts on “The Wives by Tarryn Fisher”
Ooof this sounds like an utter mess! I’m so sorry that you were unprepared for the content. We need to normalise books having content warnings as standard!
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Yes we do!
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Oh my gosh, love, I’m sorry I’m just now seeing this review – but you mentioning how uncomfortable you got later in the book, and how you mentioned it to me while we were reading it, I think is a big part of why I haven’t powered through the rest of this book yet! I do want to finish it just to get it over with and see how it all plays out and I think I’m in a decent head space to do that today, maybe, but I definitely have VERY low hopes for the rest of it, especially with how you mentioned the portrayal of the mental hospital! Yikes. 😦 I hope our next buddy read is way better! ♥
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For starters, I’m so sorry you’re seeing my review before you can even finish the book. I tried to keep it as spoiler free as I possibly could. There are definitely a lot of parts where it was hard to get through. My spouse had to hop in a few times and say, “Hey, it’s okay to set this aside and come back to it.” And it… it was a challenge. I understand why many readers especially fans of thrillers might enjoy this book, but this book will be challenging for others because of a lot of the content warnings. Very excited to plot another buddy read with you though! 💜
No you’re fine, I actually really appreciated kind of getting that heads-up! I haven’t finished it yet but I did get about another 50+ pages in and I see what you mean about how quickly it became SO CRINGE-Y after where I had left off! I’m glad you have a spouse who knows when to step in and remind you to take care of yourself ♥♥♥ And yes, me too!
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Yeah, it was definitely a choice and at least you got further in the book! Definitely some areas that were questionable, but maybe you’ll end up liking this more than me. The book had potential especially with the way the book kicked off. I’m definitely grateful for my spouse for stepping in. They at least realize when I spurting fumes and withering compared to myself trying to notice. 😂
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It’s like this book made a sport of being offensive and terrible.
The first half is so engrossing even though the main character is terrible. It so sets the stage for the reader to think that there’s going to be some kind of huge growth on her part and she works her way through her own toxicity and the toxicity of her relationship.
But NOPE! The author just double, no triples down on the hateful BS and punishes her readers for having gotten drawn into the plot in the first place.
I don’t have mental health issues and have never been pregnant, so none of the content was personally sensitive for me, but even then, I feel psychologically assaulted by this book. So it’s not just you.
I don’t think anyone, especially women, could read a book so filled with internalized misogyny and disrespect for so many types of people and experiences and not feel a little worse for wear.
…and it’s being turned into a tv series…SMFH