What’s new, folks? I closed out 2020 with my top ten books of the year, a list that ranked The Golden Cage by the doyenne of Nordic noir Camilla Läckberg in the #4 slot. It’s one of those thrillers that bowls you over with its psychological momentum and sticks with you long after you read the last sentence. As a reader who has polished off plenty of thrillers, it’s no trivial moment when I come across an offering that stands out from the rest of the genre. Same goes for diving into its sequel—in this case, Silver Tears, the follow-up to The Golden Cage—and finding it to be as much of a deliciously gripping ride as its predecessor.
(WARNING: This review will spoil major plot points from The Golden Cage. If you haven’t read it, stop right now and go pick it up.)
**Trigger Warnings** for incestuous rape, gang rape, domestic abuse, misogyny, murder, suicidal elements, and a pedophilic villain
In The Golden Cage, Faye Adelheim starts out as a housewife who, after enduring years of abuse and ridicule at the hands of her entrepreneurial husband Jack, is discarded by him after catching him in bed with Ylva, the CFO of his investment firm Compare. By the end of the story, she’s built up Revenge, her suitably named cosmetics empire; taken Compare and all of Jack’s business hopes to the cleaners; and framed him for the apparent murder of their daughter Julienne, who had been sexually abused by Jack. Silver Tears reunites us with Faye two years later as she divides herself between overseeing Revenge’s expansion plans and spending time in the cozy Italian village in which Julienne has been lying low. This is also the home for Ingrid, Faye’s mother, who has had to live as privately as her granddaughter ever since participating in a decades-ago scheme to frame her abusive ex-husband for her own murder. But it isn’t long before threats like Jack escaping prison and a mysterious foe embarking on a hostile takeover against Revenge begin to loom over the safe and happy world that Faye has made for herself and her loved ones.
There’s no doubt about it—Silver Tears is yet another top-notch effort from Läckberg. Whereas The Golden Cage presents a female revenge story that sees Faye summoning up all her tenacity and cunning to break out of her eponymous confinement, Silver Tears focuses on her enjoyment of her hard-earned freedom and her determined efforts to maintain the protective bubble she’s constructed around her family and friends in the face of impending danger.
A major element that makes both Silver Tears and The Golden Cage such delightful novels is the wholly dynamic heroine. Faye is a master at playing Machiavellian games against her foes, she pursues everything with an endearing ferocity, she radiates sexual empowerment, she’s a powerful businesswoman, she feels deeply relatable through all the trauma she’s weathered and her appetite for justifiable vengeance, and she’s a queen when it comes to protecting and uniting with the female members of her family and friends against the misogyny of men. All these qualities combine to create a lead for whom we cheer from beginning to end, no matter what.
Läckberg reuses a key element of The Golden Cage in this sequel: flashbacks to Faye’s dark past that lend the reader insight into her complex character and the tragic motives behind her morally gray actions. I thought I had a good understanding of her in that novel, but nope, Silver Tears digs deeper with its flashbacks, which concentrate specifically on her traumatic childhood, some of which was covered in The Golden Cage. However, the author sheds new light on previously hidden details, completely uprooting my former understanding of certain events and forcing me to view them from a much more harrowing angle. Now, I’m able to truly appreciate why she finds it necessary to pursue her goals so ruthlessly, even if they involve committing murder (the well deserved kind, of course).
Läckberg doesn’t shy away from intense depictions of misogyny and sexual abuse. In a different book, it could come across as sleazy. But the author handles it with a brutal honesty that pushes you to side wholeheartedly with Faye and her fully realized crew of supportive and loving women. The theme of sisterhood is as captivating as it was in The Golden Cage, with Faye eventually calling up Ylva and Alice, the ex-wife of Jack’s former business associate, for the fight to defend Revenge. The moments that the book spends evoking Faye’s close friendship with Chris, who passed away from cancer in the previous book, are particularly touching.
All in all, Silver Tears is fantastic, and I’m eagerly anticipating the third book! Make sure you check out the stunning cover art for the original Swedish version of Silver Tears, which was published back in 2020 as Wings of Silver. You can also tune into my podcast, 2 Cents Critic, and listen to my episode about Silver Tears:
Stay healthy and stay strong.
Windup score: 95/100