Mother May I, by Joshilyn Jackson

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Joshilyn Jackson, and Harper Audio for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

There’s little I find more exciting than stumbling upon another author whose writing is electrifying. While many others may know Joshilyn Jackson and her thrilling style, it was only when I received this book to review that I was pulled into the middle of a story that left me reading (listening) well into the night. When a baby is kidnapped right from under his mother’s nose, panic ensues. Bree Cabbat must come to terms with her loss and try to rectify it without alerting too many others. However, this kidnapper has a plan and Bree finds herself jumping through hoops to get her son back, only later realising the motive behind the madness. Jackson offers a chilling tale that will prove highly addictive, once the reader finds themselves fully committed to the story. Recommended to those who love a chilling thriller full of twists and ‘aha’ moments.

The day started off poorly for Bree Cabbat when she noticed an old woman dressed in black—the proverbial witch, if ever there was one—peering into her bedroom window. Alerting her husband to the intruder, Bree’s worries were dismissed as a lack of sleep and ‘baby brain’. Bree’s upbringing in rural Georgia may not have been ideal, but she has transformed those years into something special, turning out to be an amazing mother to two teen girls and a new baby, Robert.

While at the girls’ school one afternoon, horror strikes Bree. Robert is kidnapped when she’s distracted in the drama room, snatched from his infant seat. It is only later that the same witch woman is seen in the school parking lot. Bree enters panic mode and is ready to do anything to save her son. When a call comes in, Bree is prepared to do whatever it takes to save Robert.

Bree is directed to undertake a confusing act to prove her loyalty to Robert. She must drug one of her husband’s legal partners at the firm and slip away, waiting fur further instructions. Given the pills she must use, Bree follows the instructions she’s given, only to realise that the plan has taken a horrible turn. What should have only knocked the man out has killed him and Bree is left with the guilt, on top of not yet having Robert back in his custody.

Confiding in a former cop and family friend, Bree soon learns that there was another recent kidnapping of a little boy by the same woman, who insists that all this is being done with her daughter’s assistance. Bree uncovers something that may connect the two cases, though she is not yet ready to bring it to the authorities or any media outlet. The more she understands about a distant past, the clearer things become as to why these two families were targeted.

Confronting her husband, Bree learns about his college years and how he was not the man she thought he might have been. However, this stroll down memory lane is not bringing Robert back any faster. Bree must work within the confines of what she can do and try to locate this pair of vindictive women before Robert disappears for good. A mother’s dedication to her baby crosses paths with another’s search for justice, however twisted it might be. This is one explosive story that will leave the reader enthralled as they try to see which maternal instinct is stronger.

While I may have never read anything by Joshilyn Jackson before, I can see the allure. Her storytelling is second to none and the flow of the piece keeps the reader in the middle of the gathering momentum. The piece pulls on the reader’s heartstrings while also telling of a sordid past that fuels the present kidnapping plot. Which side is innocent is up to the reader to decide, though the tangled web presented herein makes that determination all the harder to decipher.

Bree Cabbat is a strong, if somewhat harried, protagonist. Her role as doting wife and mother is balanced nicely with a fearful woman who wants her family back. As she story unfolds and she learns of a past to which she was previously unaware, Bree finds herself acting outside of the realm she might usually be comfortable inhabiting. Her dedication to finding her son is fuelled by maternal instinct, though she is equally concerned about the issues she learns relating to her husband’s past. The reader will feel Bree’s determination throughout this piece, never stopping when it comes to doing what she feels is right, even as she knows it could have dire consequences.

Jackson has used a handful of strong secondary characters to fill in some of the gaps throughout the narrative. There is a chilling undertone in the narrative and one that requires a cast of characters to bring it to life. Jackson does so effectively by painting vivid narratives with key characters, all of whom complement the larger story. Characters play their chosen roles well and the reader is gifted with a strong story throughout.

While I was not sure what to expected as I started this piece, I came to see just how talented Joshilyn Jackson was when I allowed myself to connect to the narrative. A story that appears to be a simple kidnapping takes a turn when certain twists are added to the narrative. The reader is pulled into the middle and left to wonder what might happen and how baby Robert might be used as a pawn to exact some form of revenge for past wrongs. Working with mid-length chapters, Jackson portrays her characters effectively and builds a plot that is as vivid as it is chilling. This is one book that really kept me wondering throughout and I binged numerous times just to get a better understanding of what was going on. I will definitely be back for more Joshilyn Jackson in the coming months.

Kudos, Madam Jackson, for winning me over. Your writing style and story development are surely worth additional exploration.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: