The Silent Patient brings you the intertwining stories of two characters: Theo and Alicia. Arriving at the crumbling Grove psychiatric facility, Theo focuses on getting through to Alicia, the eponymous patient charged with murdering her husband. Between Theo’s first-person account and Alicia’s increasingly frantic journal entries, the reader unravels the motives and context behind an unthinkable crime.
I’m going to get right to it: Theo’s character made me uncomfortable. From the beginning, his interest in Alicia felt inappropriately intense— maddeningly so. He struck me as arrogant and selfish, and his suspiciously strong emotional investment in Alicia filled me with unease throughout the book.
From Theo’s POV, all the rest of the characters were absurdly one-dimensional— except for Alicia. In his martyrdom, he continuously judged his peers and patients while dismissively justifying his own questionable behavior.
The story started off almost disappointingly slow, but at the recommendation of other readers in one of my book groups, I stuck with it. As they asserted, the book picked up about a third of the way through, switching from tedious context setting to a compelling narrative about a descent into madness.
The conclusion completed the story nicely, and I think Michaelides did a skillful job in tying our two main characters’ neuroses to the various themes present throughout the novel. The ending was shocking— but surprisingly satisfying. I’d recommend The Silent Patient for anyone looking for a psychological thriller that’ll entertain without weighing down your emotions.