The Swap by Robyn Harding Review

The Swap by Robyn Harding Review
The Swap by Robyn Harding, ISBN 9781760854232, 336pp, out July 2020

The Swap is the first book I’ve read by Robyn Harding, but it won’t be the last. It’s full of disturbing, morally grey characters that make for compulsive reading. I just couldn’t put this book down! If you like domestic fiction with a side of dark and twisted, then this is the book for you.

Low Morrison is a teenage girl who is a bit of a loner. She doesn’t have any friends and was raised by unconventional polyamorous hippie parents in an isolated island hometown in the Pacific Northwest. Low just doesn’t fit in – and neither does newcomer Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer.

Freya used to bask in the adoration of thousands of Instagram followers until her sportsman husband was involved in a scandal that sees them fall from grace. Now Freya is teaching pottery classes and trying to adjust to an ordinary life. When Low signs up to her pottery classes, she falls under Freya’s manipulative, narcissistic spell. Only to eager to provide Freya with the adoration she craves.

Low and Freya form a warped friendship that is challenged when Jamie and her writer husband move to town. Soon Freya has ditched Low for Jamie’s friendship and Low quickly slides into a dark obsession. Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, but instead, it upends their lives and provides Low with the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

As you can tell from this plot summary, The Swap is a very twisty read. Freya is a character you love to hate but can’t help admiring. She’s beautiful, talented and very good at twisting people around her little finger. It’s easy to see how a teen like Low could slip into her orbit and develop an unhealthy obsession. Jamie and her husband are also willing victims of Freya’s manipulations and I couldn’t help but feel for Jamie, especially when it looks like Freya is going to have the one thing she always wanted.

As a reader, I just knew this was all going to end very badly. But even I couldn’t predict the ending. It’s one of those books where it’s hard to like anyone but you can’t help but cheer for some very bad behaviour. This book explores narcissism and toxic friendships at their worst. All the characters were expertly crafted and utterly compelling. It’s a book that really doesn’t give Instagram influencers a good wrap. I enjoyed all the twists and turns. I’d love to try another book by this author.

Verdict: A fantastically twisted domestic thriller that was fun to read.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me an advanced reading copy to review.