In Always Watching, Dr. Nadine Lavoie works in a psychiatric hospital in Victoria, B.C. where she moved after losing her husband to cancer and her daughter to drugs on the street. Although Nadine is confident and capable, she is caught off guard when a patient, Heather, is brought in after a suicide attempt. Heather, a beautiful young woman who recently left a commune and experienced a miscarriage, captures Nadine’s attention.
After deep conversations with Heather, it becomes obvious that the commune which she fled from is the second iteration of a commune that Nadine’s mom had brought her as a child. Nadine never fully recovered from the methods used at the commune, and has had intense claustrophobia since that time, so when Heather begins to explain her concerns and fears about leaving the commune, Nadine’s interest is piqued. After a tragic event involving Heather, Nadine becomes determined to unravel her own feelings and secrets from the past, but quickly realizes that she may be in over her head. Nadine realizes that there may be a connection between the commune that Heather just left and hear early childhood trauma, centering around the charismatic and demanding leader, Aaron.
Nadine is a character who is both hard to like and incredibly relatable; she is brilliant and foolish. Although Chevy Stevens wrote Always Watching to be a compelling read, and it will keep you up at night, it is also is easy to get frustrated with Nadine and view her as selfish. Always Watching is a good story and is original in that it blends some hard-to-tackle themes into a suspenseful story. Plus, having been to Vancouver Island, it was wonderful to see the local flair throughout the story.