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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
Behind Barbed Eyes is a work of suspenseful crime fiction penned by author Davina Kotulski, and narrated in its audiobook format by Emily Kleimo. The story follows criminal Bonnie Maldonado and her relationship with prison psychologist Dr. Victoria Thomas through a fascinating unpicking of the human psyche as they try to get to the root and the darkest secrets of why Bonnie does what she does. Portraying the harrowing life of women incarcerated and punished for their crimes, both psychologist and prisoner explore their own perceptions of right and wrong, and the world in general, to reach a breakthrough together.
Author Davina Kotulski weaves an authentic and realistic narrative of the lives of two women connecting deeply with one another from opposite sides of the bars. The prison regime is realistically and atmospherically portrayed with great attention to detail, and Victoria is at first presented with all the clinical precision one would expect. Bonnie comes in the opposite package, impassioned and wild, and together they tease out new and hidden qualities in the other which make the story exciting and powerful.
In terms of audiobook narration, I found narrator Emily Kleimo to be clear and concise in her reading, though not fully transformative of her voice to distinguish the characters. That said, the pacing really helps to build suspense and excitement in the most pivotal scenes, and the more emotionally sensitive moments were read with great compassion. The editing was also very clean, making Behind Barbed Eyes an excellent listening experience overall.