The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List by Koethi Zan

There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity. And then, very suddenly and without warning, there were three. Even though the fourth person hadn’t made any noise at all in several months, the room got very quiet when she was gone. For a long time after that, we sat in silence, in the dark, each of us wondering what this meant for her and for us, and which of us would be the next in the box.


For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the ‘Never List’: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, they failed to follow their own rules.


Sarah has spent ten years trying to forget her ordeal. But now the FBI has news that forces her to revisit her memories, and finally attempt to find justice for Jennifer.


If she is to keep her captor behind bars, Sarah needs to work with the other women who shared her nightmare. But they won’t be happy to hear from her. Because down there in the dark, Sarah wasn’t just a victim.


Despite the dark and disturbing storyline of torture, kidnap and hellish captivity this psychological thriller is one not to be missed.  From the outset you recognise a remarkable talent for the written word and together with an incredibly well-crafted plot I found it hard to criticise at all.

The story centres on Sarah, a young woman who was kidnapped after a night out with her friend and Never List conspirator Jennifer. Sarah is held prisoner for three years in a cellar with no apparent escape. Subjected to the worst horrors imaginable she somehow manages to escape the clutches of an evil and unhinged man and this story follows the protagonist as she attempts to come to terms with the possibility of his early release and her desire to keep him locked up.

Putting the depravity to one side, for a second, for me The Never List was all about one woman’s journey and how she copes with the real world. It makes for a fascinating read and we truly see Sarah develop with each passing chapter. It’s a slow burn, as it should be, there is no overnight fix and it’s this pace that held me captive. I found her challenging, mesmerising, multi layered and intriguing.

It’s the subtle changes in her character that impressed me more than anything, Koethi Zan doesn’t rush things for the sake of the plot, Koethi takes her time and builds up the tension steadily. Slowly but surely we begin to dissect Sarah’s personality as she comes to term with meeting new people, her insecurity and her mental block of physical contact caused by her years of captivity and torture. There’s so much to Sarah that I certainly can’t do her justice in this review, it’s simply a case of read it for yourself and see if you are hooked in her weakness as I was.

The plot itself is impressive and there are a few shocks in store along the way but it was the final 50 pages that truly impressed me. So often authors rush the final scenes in a bid to tie everything up but not in this case. The pace was incredible and a balance between revelation and plot building led to a taut and satisfying thriller. One of my favourite scenes of the entire book took place in a barn in the middle of nowhere. Hauntingly atmospheric, horrific, yet somehow I wanted it to continue eavesdropping while Sarah recounted her story to a spellbound audience.

I should also point out that this is one of the sexiest books I’ve had the pleasure of reading. The packaging is nothing short of sensational. Thick pages, a terrific book jacket and black edged pages all combine to deliver one hell of a tactile monster.

The Never List shouldn’t be missed and together with an engaging characterisation and a well-crafted story that will keep you on your toes from beginning to end, you won’t be able to put it down. One of my favourite reads of 2013 for sure and an author I’ll be keeping my eyes on in the future, she possesses a prodigious talent for storytelling and delivers a book that is both haunting and chilling.

Available to buy in Hardback format.

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (1st August 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1846556554
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846556555


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