I have a confession to make. When I’m perusing the shelves in my local bookshop, I usually pass on the section marked ‘Thriller’. Despite being an enormously popular genre, it’s not something I have much interest in and I’m weary of seeing book covers with a shadowy figuring walking down some nefarious alleyway/dark street/dimly lit warehouse.
So imagine my delight when I receive a proof copy of Helen Monks Takhar’s debut novel, Precious You, in the post. Pink and without a shadowy figure in sight – and no dodgy looking blokes. The cover is completely at odds with its subject matter and while I’m aware that the final cover is still to be revealed, it’s a breath of fresh air in a stagnant category. The juxtaposition of a bright, shiny cover and twisted subject matter quells the rebellious thriller-hater in me and I polish off the book in a few short days.
I don’t want to give too much of the narrative away. A thriller is, after all, only thrilling when you don’t know what’s around the corner – and there’s lots here to anticipate. What I can say is this: Precious You centres on an obsessive power struggle between an editor, Katherine Ross, and her millennial ‘snowflake’ intern, 24-year-old Lily Lunt. It’s less Devil Wears Prada and more Gossip Girl meets Single White Female.
Initially, Lily is a millennial stereotype, at least in the eyes of her new boss. Entitled, privileged (she comes from a well-connected family) and politically correct, she seems to have it easy and this writing malarkey in the bag. By comparison, Katherine is a career woman in her early 40s, old-fashioned and happy to build her success on the backs of her unpaid staffers. When Lily is hired as the new intern at Leadership magazine, where Katherine is editor-in-chief, her arrival threatens Katherine’s cushy career. But the older woman soon becomes obsessively drawn to her young employee who serves as a cruel reminder of the youth, beauty and potential that Katherine once possessed.
What ensues is a strange web of paranoia, jealousy and revenge. The lines are blurred and we’re often left wondering who the villain is. Is Katharine paranoid and jealous? Is Lily ruthless in her ambition? Or is it something else entirely – something far more sinister? Either way, everyone loves a good secret.
The novel explores some interesting – and relevant – themes, including the lack of understanding (and distrust) between disparate generations, and modern female rivalry in a world which tells us that women can, and should, aspire to have it all. While I prefer to read books that champion women’s ability to work together, it’s an undeniable reality and it’s explored perfectly and eerily in Precious You. Thankfully it doesn’t play into stereotypes and brings something fresh to the table.
The novel is marketed towards fans of Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Jessica Knoll (Luckiest Girl Alive) and Caroline Kepnes (You). It isn’t out until Spring 2020 but is one to add to your reading wish list. Even if the genre isn’t your usual cup of tea, Precious You is certainly worth picking up – and it could change your mind.
By Emma Yates-Badley, Literary Editor
Precious You is published by Harper Collins imprint HQ and available to buy from April 2020