Book Review: What Lies Within


ashley | When James Morris contacted us to see if we were interested in reading his debut novel What Lies Within, he wooed us with a catalog of TV writing credits that couldn’t be ignored. I was curious to see how his skills would translate into a book and the concept of nature vs nurture has always fascinated me, so I was excited to explore this opportunity.

Things started off pretty quickly. We’re only just getting acquainted with Shelly when she starts receiving strange threatening text messages and is followed by a stranger on a motorcycle. So who is Shelly Marano? While she slowly unravels her past, it’s not hard to see the pieces of the puzzle but they’re a lot more complex than they seem and it’s not all that easy to piece them together to see exactly what is going on. There is definitely intrigue in this story that ropes you along and I certainly wanted to keep up with the pace and figure out where all of this was going.

As expected, I really enjoyed the focus on nature vs nurture. I enjoyed how Shelly ended up questioning everything once some of her truth started to be known. There were some deep philosophical questions rooted in her confusion that really expanded the depth of the book, which I enjoyed. However, I think the scientific explanations could have delved a bit deeper. The idea is strong and works really well, but there are a few lingering questions about the situation and I felt that the whole reveal of what was happening was kind of brushed past pretty quickly. There could have been a stronger imprint of this. But it was done pretty well and it was pretty interesting and was definitely unique.

The only thing that kind of rubbed me the wrong way was the budding love triangle. Or the existence of the character Remy at all. It just seemed to exist only to add some unnecessary drama to the story and this element didn’t really progress the story or add to it in any way. Though I suppose that unnecessary drama is all part of high school so it isn’t out of place and maybe that’s a bit of Morris’s tv background coming into play. It doesn’t make a sour impact on the book as a whole, I just probably wouldn’t have missed it if it didn’t exist.

I read through this rather quickly, there are no lulls in the story and it’s pretty interesting from the moment you pick it up right until the end. There are also some really dark and creepy situations that brought this beyond your typical thriller to another disturbing level, which was awesome. Things allude to a follow up book and I’m not sure what else lies behind this big experiment to justify a second book, but that said, I will definitely be picking it up when it is available to see what else lies within Shelly Marano.


more information
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June 2, 2015

copy provided by
James Morris (author)

James’ new book, Melophobia, about a world without music (tragic!) is featured on Kindle Scout – show some support and nominate Melophobia!