Mother May I?
Friesen Press (2022)
Reviewed by Kathy Stickles for Reader Views (10/2022)
“Mother May I?” is the debut novel from Teresa Phelan that follows main character Lucy as she tries to gain some control over her life. It’s a harrowing psychological thriller with creepy vibes and an attention grabbing narrative that draws in readers from the start.
Lucy is a woman who has dealt with a lot of tragic moments in her life and suffers from PTSD. Trying to find some semblance of normal, she goes away with two of her friends for a week of relaxation and fun in Mexico. Along the way, these three ladies have a lot of adventures and fun, all the while being made very uncomfortable by two men who are on the same flight, in the same hotel, and seem to be following them around throughout the entire trip. The men do nothing to help Lucy with her fears and lead her to a terrifying dream that she cannot shake, even after returning home. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the book. The characters of Lucy and her two friends are very well written, and we are led to an understanding of their past problems and how that has shaped them as they come to this point in their lives. Ms. Phelan was also very detailed in her descriptions of the two men and each of their pasts, which led them to this moment in time.
Once Lucy returns to Canada and sees that the men are still following her, the book loses a lot of what was good in the first half. I don’t feel that Lucy is as well-written during the second half of the story. The reader loses her two friends for the most part in the second half of the book and they were great characters. For me, the redeeming part of the second half of the book is Lucy’s husband and the way he tries to help her while also trying to make her understand that she needs to let him help rather than shutting out his feelings.
“Mother May I?” is a good read for anyone that likes the thriller genre, but I do think it could be made even better with more of a storyline in the second half of the novel. It is definitely creepy and keeps the reader’s attention, but it could be so much more. The end of the novel seemed, for me, to happen too quickly and without enough of the lead-up and terror that one would expect in a novel of this type. All that said, I did enjoy the story and I would definitely read something else from this author as she moves forward and grows with her craft.