Author’s Spotlight: My Real Self

Author: Jessica Huntley
Genre: Thriller
Publication Date: 4 April 2022
Pages: 275
Available As: Paperback, hardback, and e-book

The Synopsis:
My name is Alicia…but you already know that by now. I am…not normal, but am I truly a psychopath as I have always believed?

Josslyn and I used to be enemies, then friends, then sisters, and now…I finally know the truth about who she really is. But it is not about us anymore. It is about putting an end to an evilness that I know is there, and which is far too close for comfort. I cannot accomplish this mission alone…everyone was against me, but now I have allies.

I will finish this once and for all. I will find out the truth about my past, but one of us may not survive it. Josslyn and I have always been one and the same…but it is time to finally say goodbye and find out who I really am…My Real Self.

The Review:
My Real Self is the third and final novel of Jessica Huntley’s My…Self series. If you haven’t read the previous two books, then you’re going to be at a slight disadvantage here as, while the author does a decent job of having her characters catch the reader (and each other) up with previous events, it basically picks up right where the second book left off. However, this is to be expected from a continuous series so if you’re just now discovering Jessica’s trilogy, I strongly advise going back to the first book to experience the entire story from start to finish.

Sisters Alicia and Josslyn share the same body; for years, the free-spirited and scatter-brained Josslyn was in control and Alicia occasionally surfaced to indulge her vices but, following a protracted manipulation from Alicia, Josslyn was eventually suppressed and the emotionally stunted, psychopathic Alicia became the primary identity. However, a common enemy caused the sisters to work together, influencing and changing each other, to the point where Alicia is now dead set on hunting down, exposing, and ending a cabal of abusive and downright despicable men known as “The Collective” who make it their mission to stalk, rape, and abuse multiple women. Having suffered greatly at the hands of the Collective throughout the previous books, Alicia is already motivated to make them pay but she’s even more determined to avenge herself against them when she learns that her long lost birth father is the man behind the Collective, meaning she feels a moral obligation to take care of their sect by herself. Of course, she’s not actually by herself. Josslyn is still there, but her influence and presence are definitely dimming in this book. Ever since Alicia had surgery to remove the part of her that she believed contained Josslyn’s personality, Josslyn has been little more than a passenger and part-time driver of the body, surfacing only after begging for control or to protect Alicia. Personally, I’m okay with this; Josslyn became quite a needy, whiny character and, when she surfaces her, she’s constantly distracted and going off on tangents, letting her emotions get the better of her and stunting Alicia’s otherwise emotionless efficiency. This, however, seems to be the point; the author clearly writes Josslyn and Alicia as being two extreme personalities, with one being overly emotional and the other struggling with her emotions. Those who’ve read the previous books will be intimately familiar with this since Alicia doesn’t use contractions when she talks and requires Josslyn’s input to show empathy or politeness to others, while Josslyn sometimes needs Alicia’s edge to track down leads on the Collective or brutalise their members for more information.

Alicia is also joined by Benjamin Willis, who’s in love with them both (but mainly Josslyn) and has gotten so mixed up in her crazy life that he’s willing to shield her from the police (who are trying to track down Josslyn due to Alicia’s murderous actions in the previous books) and assist in locating the Collective, much to Alicia’s chagrin. Ben has a vested interest in exposing the Collective since they poisoned and potentially drove his sister to suicide but faces an uphill battle as Alicia is a tough nut to crack and the two continuously try to push him away to keep him safe. Ben takes a bit of a back seat here, being much more of a supporting character, which again is perfectly fine as the story is unapologetically focused on the duality between Alicia and Josslyn. Ben is certainly no knight in shining armour; if anything, his presence only reinforces how independent Alicia is, and her stubbornness constantly causes frequent arguments between the two, but he stands by her because he truly loves them both. His presence also helps to emphasis the changes occurring to Alicia’s character; despite her claims to be a cold-hearted psychopath, she fears to lose her sister and has no desire to see Ben get hurt as a result of their investigation, and much of the book is geared towards exploring how Alicia handles the onset of these alien emotions.

Alicia’s investigation takes her all across the internet and up and down the United Kingdom, leading her from Cambridge and up to Edinburgh, tracking down tenuous leads and getting one step closer to her abhorrent father with every chapter. Her father, who takes the name Frank Master, is quite the despicable sadist; having spent years grooming and recruiting numerous likeminded sickos to his cause, he’s spent a lifetime abusing, raping, harming, and killing women using a variety of resources, but has remained largely anonymous thanks to how well he’s protected himself. Alicia, however, is nothing if not persistent and adaptable and forcibly uses every resource available to her to work her way towards her father, leading to a dramatic showdown between the two (well, technically three) of them. Prior to this, much of the narrative focuses on the potential danger of Alicia losing complete control of herself and Josslyn’s influence forever leaving her, and the fear each of them have that this could mean she snaps and becomes everything her father has tried to manipulate her into being. Thus, a prominent arc in the book is Alicia coming to terms with her complex and traumatic upbringing and learning to truly evolve into a better person, but whether she’s actually successful at this or not is constantly left in question and is a mystery that you’ll have to find out for yourself by reading the book.

Overall, this was a dramatic and intense conclusion to the My…Self series; Jessica’s writing and understanding of these characters has certainly evolved since the first book, and there are a lot of layers and complex revelations revealed to them and the reader throughout the course of the trilogy, but especially in this final book. This can be intimidating at times, but Jessica makes a point to pepper the book with a few recaps to catch everyone up to speed, which can also slow things down a little bit, but this actually works in the favour of the story as the subject matter is so extreme and unsettling that it helps to take a break, or have poignant moments between Alicia and Josslyn (and them and Ben). The exploration of Alicia and Josslyn’s relationship, their influence on each other, and the truth of their situation is fascinating to see; Jessica scatters numerous twists and revelations throughout the text that really up the ante for the finale, and things come to a suitably bloody and dramatic conclusion by the end. In hindsight, I think I find the first book to be the most enjoyable of the three as it was quite the intriguing mystery, but it was still enjoyable to see Alicia evolve and turn her psychotic bloodlust towards a morally righteous goal. It’s worth taking note of the trigger warnings if you’re squeamish, but I was taken by the depiction of a strong, determined female character striking back against these really horrific male characters and enjoyed Jessica’s descriptions of gore and violent acts. Definitely read the previous two books before delving into this one, as the entire series is well worth your time and this acts as a suitably fitting end to the trilogy.

My Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Pretty Good

If you’re interested in checking out My Real Self and learning more about Jessica Huntley and her journey as an author, visit the links at the top of the page.

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