Review: Empty Places by S.A. Laybourn

Empty Places by S.A. Laybourn
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Pages: 194
Source: book provided by the publisher for review



Ellie Freeman, a low-level Federal employee, is stuck in a dead-end desert town that no longer feels like home. What makes things worse is the threatening phone calls she’s been getting. When Duncan Harris, a British journalist, stops by to interview her for a series he’s writing, Ellie feels something close to hope that there’s still something good to be salvaged from her life. But, before that hope can be fulfilled, Ellie is kidnapped.

When Duncan finds out what has happened to Ellie, he throws his journalist’s neutrality out of the window and heads off to find her. What he finds is a cult led by a deluded but charismatic leader. Somehow, he has to get Ellie out of its clutches and he’ll do whatever it takes. When the cult leader raises the stakes, the mission becomes very personal indeed.


Review: I really don’t know where to start with this review. This was so different than what I am used to.

Ellie lives in a desert area of the states. Things are a little desolate. A reporter comes to do a story on the town and the area. Duncan finds Ellie fascinating. They spend the day together in which they seem to bond a little and a friendship ignites. Ellie is kidnapped and Duncan helps in rescuing her. Probably against all he believes in. Why?

I found this to be a story that had potential. It was a little flat and lifeless at first.  Then it seemed as if it was given a jolt of energy, but yet it just felt like it was missing something. I kept reading just so that I could find out what was going to happen.

The story revolved around a cult type compound that loosely believed in a cross between the Mormans/Amish. It was a little out there and really not quite clear as to what or why the prophet wanted the government to take notice other than perhaps to notice that polygamy should be made legal. The story was a little bit believable and also predictable. Believable: things like this have happened in the past. Predictable: this sort of thing usually doesn’t end well and it didn’t.

I was on the fence with the characters. I felt for them… they seemed real enough and yet I just couldn’t wrap my arms around them. The whole compound seemed a little flat and lifeless also. The family that took Ellie under their care brought a little warmth into the story as did Ellie’s neighbor but still it didn’t quite grab me.

Overall this story has promise. It was just lost on me. I would definitely give this a chance and also the author. I suppose it all came down to a good topic but I just wanted more or something a little different.