Thank you so much to author Smita Bhattacharya for providing me with a copy of Shut the Lights in exchange for this honest review.
Remember the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic? The uncertainty, the fear, the lockdown? Shut the Lights brings us back to that stressful era with a family drama about a family of four stuck in their small apartment for 21 days. This thriller not only captures what those early days in lockdown felt like but also the unique tension that can only come from the people you’re closest to.
Parents Mridul and Suvini and their two kids Damien and Tara live together in a small apartment in Mumbai. They’ve just been informed they’re entering a 21 day lockdown and are trapped together for nearly a month.
The parents are working from home and the kids are attempting their classwork. The kids mostly stick to their shared bedroom out of the way. As the story progresses the parents keep alluding to some past incident the teenagers were involved in that make them suspicious of any secrecy. At first, mother Suvini may come off as overprotective or controlling but it all makes sense in the end.
To double down on the suspense Suvini finds a mysterious letter containing a vague threat of blackmail. We also have father Mridul being sketchy about phone calls and messages. Everyone in the family starts acting strange and trust starts to thin from all sides.
The reader is left in the dark for a lot of Shut the Lights, we’re left to wonder what happened before this lockdown that set everyone on edge to begin with. By the time the secrets are revealed we fully understand why some memories are left buried and some secrets are better left kept to their owners.
People say that honesty is the best policy but more secrets might just help this family stay together. The more that comes out the worse it gets.
Shut the Lights is a well paced thriller that lays out just enough groundwork to keep the reader engaged. You’ll want to keep reading because you’ll really want to know what each character is hiding. By the end of the novel all of the pieces fall nicely into place and small details from the beginning of the book come back to have much more meaning.
It’s also nice to read a novel that takes place in another country and culture without being about that country and culture. I try to stay away from American default-ism but it’s definitely difficult when that’s pretty much what I know and what’s popular. When I try to search for “diverse” reads the lists are often political and social commentaries. Yes, these are important as well, but isn’t it just as important to see how similar people are all over the world?
This Indian family is likely very similar to your own, regardless of your nationality. Shut the Lights bridges cultural divides and reminds us that at the beginning of the pandemic we were all facing a global threat on equal footing. Families everywhere were being locked down and we all had that in common.
If you are a fan of thrillers, dramas, and dark secrets I strongly recommend Shut the Lights. You’ll see yourself as part of this family but hopefully your secrets are a bit less extreme.
5/5 lights 💡💡💡💡💡
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