Review: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg (2022)

Blurb

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor. Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student. Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes. It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

Except that he’s not who he says he is. But then again, neither is she…

Review

Thank you so much to the publisher and the Squadpod for sorting out a proof copy for me in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not sure if I devoured this book, or if this book consumed me, but either way, I could not put it down. This is one of the most tense – and intense – reading experiences I’ve had for a while, and I loved every second of it. From the dramatic opening to the gradual unveiling of what has taken place, Nobody But Us is an absolute masterclass in creating narrative tension. It’s a tricky book to review in terms of the story, because so much of the twisted pleasure comes from discovery as you read, so I’ll keep this brief and focus instead on what I love about Laure Van Rensburg’s writing.

There is a sharpness to the prose, a piercing accuracy – each sentence has the ability to startle, to awaken new ways of seeing. It is beautiful, clever writing – shaped and polished, with the glassy sleekness of the house itself. The descriptions of the house where these disturbing events unfold are some of the sharpest writing in the novel: the author could not have chosen a more perfect setting for Ellie and Steven’s weekend away. Its stylish modernity contrasts with the wildness of the landscape around it, and the visual quality of the writing creates a cinematic effect. I really felt like I was watching the events unfold rather than reading about them – it’s a very powerful effect.

Nobody But Us isn’t my usual type of book – but I have come to realise that I pretty much only have a ‘usual’ type in order to attempt to manage the ever-growing list of books I want to read! Every time I step outside my comfort zone, I realise how much can be learned from books outside my typical genres. This is some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time, and Laure Van Rensburg is a debut author to watch. It’s a book that will have you messaging your friends to say “text me when you’ve finished!” – a book you’ll want to talk about and recommend to everyone you know.

Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg is published by Michael Joseph. A special signed edition with sprayed edges is available to preorder here.

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