When reclusive novelist Senna Richards wakes up on her thirty-third birthday, everything has changed. Caged behind an electrical fence, locked in a house in the middle of the snow, Senna is left to decode the clues to find out why she was taken. If she wants her freedom, she has to take a close look at her past. But, her past has a heartbeat…and her kidnapper is nowhere to be found. With her survival hanging by a thread, Senna soon realizes this is a game. A dangerous one. Only the truth can set her free.
This review is really just a diatribe of my emotions and an overall gushing of this book. I won’t touch on the basis of what happens, or really anything like that, because, as it’s been said a lot already–don’t go into this with spoilers or plot rundowns. Just read it.
So when I read Mud Vein, it was really quite a unique reading experience–tortuous, but worth it. When I asked Tarryn at the end of the year if I could read it, I really didn’t think she’d send me the first five chapters. I devoured those immediately. And I waited. Finally, I asked why she’d not sent more. Didn’t she have more ready? HOW COULD SHE NOT HAVE MORE DONE? Her reply? “I wasn’t sure if you liked it.” HUH?
But eventually she sent more. And then it became a thing. She’d send one, maybe two chapters at a time. And each time I’d see them in my email, I would feel sick to my stomach. She was the master puppeteer–sadist. I was the bunny, and she had the carrot. Dangle dangle. But I was all too okay with my masochism.
My mind has never been so blown. I’ve tried for nearly two months to figure out how to explain this book–or even how I felt. And I’m not sure I’ve figured it out yet. It’s ethereal. An experience. What I thought it was about–which, I didn’t have that many theories–was completely wrong. There’s no way to prepare you for this book, and really, as you’ve probably read in 95% of the reviews out there so far, don’t try to prepare yourself. In fact, stop reading the reviews entirely. You don’t need a book report, or some plot run down. You don’t need character descriptions. Or to know if there’s romance, an HEA, or whatever else you’re craving.
Just. Read. This. Book.
There’s so few times in life you can go into something without preconceived notions. Don’t let others’ opinions sway you. Don’t let what you think you want to read sway you. You could find out you really want something completely different. I think this is the book to change a lot of readers’ minds. It’s set the bar so much higher, in so many ways.
This isn’t your typical romance, in the sense of dating and first fights and all those moments–but this does have romantic qualities. Again, just not what you’d maybe expect or be used to; however, that doesn’t take away from the intimacy of it all. There are plenty of “relationships” in this book–romantic and otherwise–but they’re just structured differently, and because of the nature of the characters and who they are and what makes them tic, nothing about it is traditional. But putting the thought of “traditional romance” aside, there’s a deeper intimacy, something everyone should be so lucky to get to experience in their lifetime.
Tarryn’s not a new author. We know how she writes. We know she likes to put raw emotion and flawed characters into her stories. She writes what’s real. And ugly. Because life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. I get that we, as readers, read to escape the ick of life. And that’s great. But I also think it’s great to read something honest and so, so poignant, that it might also remind us that our shit isn’t so bad.
I think in some way, every single person who reads this book will–no matter how small–relate to Senna and Isaac. We’re all broken in one way or another. Some hide it better than others. Some have spent years attempting to fix it. And some just own it. And do what they can to survive.
“I’m mangled,” I said. “On the inside and outside.”
“And yet I love you.”
That’s what Mud Vein was to me. A story of survival. In the simplest terms. And in the most complicated ways. It’s basic survival, because they’re kidnapped. It’s life survival, because isn’t that what we’re all trying to do every single day. It’s the survival of love–old and new. Of goals, dreams, and it’s the survival of your soul. Or who are you in the rawest, toughest, saddest moments of your life.
I was given this story at a time when I needed it. Even though I didn’t know I needed it. For that, I’m beyond grateful. I will recommend this book to every person I meet. Always.
Do yourself a favor, and forget the fact that you might like rockstars, or billionaires, or flowers and hearts and the most romantic happy endings, and read this story. Remember happy endings are different for everyone. They don’t always mean riding off into the sunset with your white knight. Maybe it’s just knowing you were loved, and you were capable of loving. That has to be enough sometimes. And know that after reading this, you’ll be changed. In whatever way–even if it totally pisses you off and you’re mad you read it, you’ll have gained that experience and felt something. And that’s the real magic–to feel.
I’m a huge Charles Bukowksi fan–HUGE. This quote a favorite of mine from one of his poems. I’ve always said I’m a tough pill to swallow; I know this and accept it. And as I read Mud Vein, I couldn’t help but feel like it really spoke to Senna’s character. She never made any qualms about who she was–she accepted her darkness and didn’t expect anyone to deal with it; which is why she was reclusive in the first place. So though you may be crazy and dark, that doesn’t take away from your magic. There’s something about owning your madness, and Senna did.
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“There is a string that connects us that is not visible to the eye,” he said. “Maybe every person has more than one soul they are connected to, and all over the world there are these invisible strings.” As if to make his point, his finger traced a black ribbon that ran through my horse’s mane. “Maybe the chances that you’ll find each and every one of your soulmates is slim. But sometimes you’re lucky enough to stumble across one. And you feel a tug. And it’s not so much a choice to love them through their flaws and through your differences, but rather you love them without even trying. You love their flaws.”
I am a real life villain, truly. I drink sick amounts of Starbucks. Most of the time my hair smells like coffee. I was born in South Africa, and lived there for most of my childhood. I moved to Seattle just for the rain. Rome is my favorite place in the world so far, Paris comes in at a close second. I read and write more than I sleep. When I was eleven, I wrote an entire novel about runaway orphans, using only purple ink. I am addicted to Florence and the Machine and will travel to see concerts. I love scary movies and giraffes. I spend way too much time on Facebook. Meet you there?…