Helena is incarcerated. She has crossed the lines, but what has she done? Once a week, Helena see a psychologist and talks with him, and the truth is presented piece by piece.
For several years she had a relationship with a man who gave her the courage to live, despite her dark secrets, but she was always "the other woman" and finally Helena's fragile world crashes.
We meet Helena in shards: talks with the psychologist interspersed with flashbacks to her childhood and Helena's inner conversation with the love of her life.
The story is full of nerves and tension rises with the realization of who Helena really is. Seared is a psychological thriller that insightfull depicts a broken womans desperate attempts to create a life worth living.
"When Helena meets David at a coffee bar in Sweden, she is frightened by the electric and inexplicable bond between them. After all, she is used to being shunned by the people around her – even cruelly bullied by them. But David, unperturbed by Helena’s icy exterior, inserts himself into her life, and gradually they begin to fall in love. Yet their relationship is anything but innocent. While he is upfront about his marriage to another woman, David’s commitment to his wife continually eats away at Helena until she nears the boiling point. And Helena is hiding a few dark secrets of her own – secrets that could have profound effects on the people around her.
Seared is a psychological thriller in the style of Gone Girl, the main conflict unfolding delicately and masterfully over the course of the novel. Through sessions with her psychologist, readers gain morsels of information about Helena’s relationship with her parents, and, more significantly, with her lover. At times, the narrative feels almost dreamlike; Helena’s psychological evaluations frequently unearth dormant memories into which she plummets like Alice down the rabbit hole. The subtle interchange of memory and reality will threaten to confuse and mislead readers, as any good thriller will do. Beyond the central plot, Helena’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, Simone, lends gravitas to the story. Suffering from a bitter divorce, Simone has become withdrawn from the world, retreating home from work at night like a turtle into its shell. Over time she becomes an increasingly unfit mother for Helena, and later she begins to resort to emotional abuse as an alternative to healthy parenting. The exploration of this malformed mother-daughter bond is essential to understanding why Helena, fully matured, acts the way she does. Both brisk and brutally raw, Seared is highly recommended for fans of thrillers and family dramas."
- Red City Reviews
"Seared is an intense psychological thriller by Sandra Gustafsson. Born to parents who showed her betrayal instead of unconditional love, Helena is a broken person. When she falls in love with a married man, she continues to live a life full of secrets and pain. As her story emerges, the reader sees that she is currently incarcerated because of something that happened to her boyfriend. Attending weekly appointments with a psychologist, the events that led up to this point are revealed. Helena’s mind takes her back to different events that happened in her life. These abusive and neglectful events taught her how to shut down and close herself off from others, both physically and emotionally, to protect herself.
When Helena meets her lover, she lets her guard down. Feeling sure that he truly loves only her, she tries to ignore his marital status. This becomes impossible when his wife becomes pregnant. In spite of the circumstances, Helena is certain that he truly wants to be with her. When she is forced to realize that this is not the case, she really begins to fall apart. The darkness and despair, which she has carried inside her for her whole life, completely engulfs her until she acts out in desperation. Her actions become her undoing.
"Seared” by Sandra Gustafsson really is appropriately titled, because Helena’s story stayed with me long after I finished the novel. The author truly brings the pain this character experienced to life when she tells her story. It is easy to see how she became the person that she did. It was also difficult to watch her suffer, as it felt so real to me. This is definitely a novel that should be read by people who enjoy intense psychological stories. It is not a light read."
- Reader Views