Title: The House Mate
Author: Nina Manning
Published on: 15 October 2020
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
Regi is in her mid-thirties and about to start her new life with a clean state. She lives in a shared house with three college-going young women(they are in their early twenties). Regi’s neighbour has a child and she believes the mother is abusing the child – the child is always crying and is never let out of the house.
Meanwhile, Regi is afraid that a man in a dark baseball cap’s been following her. He’s somehow found her phone number too and keeps calling her often. Mini, one of Regi’s house mate introduces her to a cleanstagrammer’s profile. Regi soon becomes obsessed with the cleaning-obsessed Instagram celebrity.
The story alternates between NOW and THEN. Regi is 35 and has started her life on a clean slate recently. As the story begins, it is very clear Regi is trying to hide from someone. She covers her face with a scarf so that she doesn’t have to meet someone from her past. She is uncomfortable around people – including her house mates.
As the story proceeds, we see Regi becoming more and more obsessed with cleaning – thanks to the Insta-celebrity MsClean. The neighbour’s child brings back Regi’s memories – the ones she’s been trying to push away into the darkest corner of her mind.
The THEN part of the story is all about Regi’s past – how she met D and the life she led with him. The NOW part is all about Regi’s new life as a house mate and college student. We also see Regi striking a friendship with one of the college lecturers. As the story proceeds, we see Regi getting along ‘just fine’ with her house mates. (Which of course is a great achievement for someone like Regi)
The story was not only interesting but it surely kept me on the edge of my seat. Regi’s obsessions do get a little creepy at times. There isn’t anything like obsessively obsessed, right? Years ago, I had a trauma-induced OCD (I am grateful to have overcome it soon!) and I know how hard it was for me to accept my inner voice saying ‘NO’. Your mind puts up one heck of a fight and it is very difficult to stop doing things in a particular order.
Like, in this story, Regi locks and unlocks the bolts six times before opening or closing the door or window. A voice in her mind says ‘Don’t do it’ but it is hard for Regi to accept it. This was totally relatable. I think only someone who has dealt with OCD would understand this. Kudos to Nina Manning for including this real-life-ish scenario bit into the story.
The House Mate was surely going to be a 5-starrer. I was so engrossed and piqued, the creepy-alert in my brain was at an all-time high. This is the kind of story that literally brings shivers down your spine. And not to forget, goosebumps.
However, the last two chapters played a vital role in bringing the rating down. I actually read the last two chapters twice to make sure it was a continuation of the same story. The twist was unbelievable and… unthinkable(?). I was like, WHAT??? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?
My expectations were a little dampened. I was certainly expecting a different ending to the story. I mean, the suspense was at an all-time high (More like ALL-TIME-HIGH) and I felt a little cheated with the way things ended.
Regi’s obsessions and the insta-celebrity angles are no doubt, the best parts of this story. Nina Manning has done an excellent job in writing a brilliant psychological thriller – though I did not like the ending, this was a very well-written and engrossing thriller. I am definitely looking forward to reading Nina Manning’s first two books.
Many thanks to the lovely Rachel for the blog tour invite.