For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.
All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.
Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?
About Lucy Foley
Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.
Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages. Her journalism has appeared in ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style, Grazia and more.
Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
This is just the beginning.
Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.
But this is not the end.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
DNF @ meh? There was a lot of scan-reading.
I haven’t read many of the recent feminist speculative novels cropping up that are clearly taking inspiration from the newly renewed popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale, but I requested this one and I honestly wish I hadn’t. The issue with Vox, in particular, is it doesn’t seem to be written to show society the dangers in an attempt to right future wrongs, but rather to capitalize on the fears of many. In the beginning of Vox, we’re introduced to a world where all females are fitted with a metal bracelet which delivers a shock if the individual goes over their allotted 100 words per day. Paper, pencils, books, all banned. Jean is a mother of three boys and one girl and she mentally contemplates what she could have done differently to avoid the outcome of the world she finds herself living in. The flashbacks she has regarding her grad school roomie warning her against inaction amid the rise of fundamentalism, how religions are wholly evil, and the indirect references to our current president were all a bit too on the nose. It also didn’t help that the second half turned into some blockbuster thriller and if I couldn’t take the novel seriously before, I certainly wasn’t able to at that point. I’m all about driving home the importance of voting but lines like:
“My fault started two decades ago, the first time I didn’t vote … was too busy to go on [a march].”
I mean criminy, talk about subtle. Voting is incredibly important and I believe that everyone should exercise their right to do so. A single vote might not be the decider in a race, or it could, but at the very least you’ve gone out there and made your opinion known. Dalcher was trying to make a good point, that women’s rights are precarious at best, but maybe don’t wrap up your cautionary tale in the cloak of a thriller simply to make it more exciting.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
From the author of FantasticLand comes a supernatural thriller set in a sleepy Nebraska town that mixes the novels of Ann Rice and the pulpy, bloody works of Donald Ray Pollock.
Cherry, Nebraska, population 312, is just off the highway between the sticks and the boonies. It’s where Dave Rhodes and his friends have lived all their lives. They own businesses, raise families, pay taxes, deal with odd neighbors and, once or twice a month just like their fathers before them—transform into wolves. It’s not a bad life, but when one of the group members goes astray, it sets in motion a series of events that will threaten to destroy the delicate balance that has kept Dave and his clan off the radar. Between a son getting ready for his first transformation—called The Scratch—a wife with sordid secrets, a new sheriff who knows nothing of the creatures in his midst, and a mysterious man in a bow tie with a shady agenda, the middle of nowhere is about to get very dangerous.
Interspersed with historical documents and newspaper clippings, and court documents that reveal the past of Cherry, Nebraska, a past informed by spirits, the devil, and crooked cops. In the vein of Donald Ray Pollock and Glen Duncan, Pack is at its heart is the story of family’s survival in an unforgiving world. Mike Bockoven’s second novel moves at breakneck speed with prose that hits like an injection of battery acid. Raw, real, and funny, Pack exposes the horror and tenderness that festers in the forgotten corners of the American Dream.
DNF @ 17%
Pack is described as a supernatural thriller and is likened to Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire) and Donald Ray Pollock (The Devil All the Time). I am typically not a big werewolf story reader, but my brain went a little wild with excitement over the idea of combining Rice and Pollock, two of my favorite authors. First of all, a supernatural thriller this is not. Small town, werewolf family drama? Absolutely. The characters weren’t very memorable and the storyline itself just felt uneventful and it took me many weeks to even get to the measly 17% I made it to. I know that publishers request lines not be included from review copies, so I won’t, however, the state which the review copy was in absolutely played a part in preventing me from finishing this. Maybe that’s unfair, but this read like the very first draft before a single change was made and before spell-check was even run. There were so many glaring errors (spelling, grammar, you name it) that it was unfortunately too distracting. Here’s hoping the finished copy got a high coat of gloss applied with all the errors buffed out.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Lisa is living a lie and everyone is about to find out.
Lisa lives for her daughter Ava, her job and her best friend Marilyn.
But when a handsome client shows an interest in her, Lisa starts daydreaming about sharing her life with him, too. Maybe she’s ready now. Maybe she can trust again. Maybe it's time to let her terrifying secret past go.
But when her daughter rescues a boy from drowning and their pictures are all over the news for everyone to see, Lisa's world explodes.
As she finds everything she has built threatened, and not knowing who she can trust, it's up to Lisa to face her past in order to save what she holds dear.
But someone has been pulling all their strings. And that someone is determined that both Lisa and Ava must suffer.
Because long ago Lisa broke a promise. And some promises aren't meant to be broken.
DNF @ 24%
After reading (and loving) both Mayhem and Murder, Pinborough was immediately inducted into my auto-read author hall of fame list. There was a brief setback with The Language of Dying (magical realism either REALLY works for me or REALLY doesn’t, there is no in between) but Behind Her Eyes brought me right back to what I love about this author. Which brings me to Cross Her Heart. What’s strange about this one is I read the first 1/4 of this book in a single night and then proceeded to set it down and then completely forgot about it. The storyline alludes to the concept that Lisa and her daughter Ava ran away from something (I’m sure it was all disclosed later in the story) and the story was full of bits and pieces about Lisa refusing to date and how much of a helicopter mom she is and how the mother-daughter duo led a quiet life, but then strange things start popping up from her past that leads Lisa to believe their quiet life isn’t as peaceful as she thought. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the story, there just wasn’t anything particularly great. It also didn’t help that it reminded me quite a bit of another mystery I DNF’d earlier this year. I’ll still be keeping my eyes peeled for her next story.
Lisa lives a very quiet life. A single mother nearing forty, she devotes herself to raising her sixteen-year-old daughter, Ava. Wary of men, Lisa doesn’t speak of her past or Ava’s absent father. Her best friend Marilyn wishes she would open up more and maybe finally go on a date—with the sexy new client who’s obviously keen—but Marilyn has problems of her own.
Ava is getting tired of her overprotective mother. She wants to live like a normal teenager—chill with friends, go to swim practice, study for exams, have a boyfriend. Her mom would freak if she knew that Ava’s already got someone special, someone who makes her feel sophisticated—and wanted.
Lisa has spent a long time looking over her shoulder, but lately she’s been especially uneasy. Small things from the past have begun to appear in the present, feeding her anxiety. As her life begins to unravel, Lisa knows that the only way she can protect herself and her daughter is to face her fears. Yet courage won’t be enough. She’ll need help from the only person she can trust—Marilyn. Between them they have to save Ava, and to do that, they have to be honest with each other. Truly honest. Marilyn did promise she’d do anything to help.
But a long time ago, Lisa made a promise too. Then she broke her word. And that betrayal hasn’t been forgotten—or forgiven.
Now, someone is going to make her pay for her sin.
About Sarah Pinborough
Sarah Pinborough is a critically acclaimed horror, thriller and YA author. In the UK she is published by both Gollancz and Jo Fletcher Books at Quercus and by Ace, Penguin and Titan in the US. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and she has a horror film Cracked currently in development and another original screenplay under option. She has recently branched out into television writing and has written for New Tricks on the BBC and has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.
Sarah was the 2009 winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story, and has three times been short-listed for Best Novel. She has also been short-listed for a World Fantasy Award. Her novella, The Language of Dying was short-listed for the Shirley Jackson Award and won the 2010 British Fantasy Award for Best Novella.
Short Summary: Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his small hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend who is accused of murdering his family and then committing suicide, but this small town is full of terrible secrets and shocking surprises.
Thoughts: This mystery is one of the most impressive debuts that I’ve read in a very long time, intertwining a past vs. present story, a captivating writing style, and a tangled mystery that was most thrilling when all is revealed.
Verdict: Whether or not this needed to be the start of a series, Jane Harper impressed me so much I’ll be reading anything and everything she writes.
Short Summary: A camera that slowly eats your soul with each picture, a mall security guard is believed to have prevented a mass shooting, a man on his first skydiving adventure lands on a seemingly sentient cloud, and a sudden apocalyptic event in Boulder, Colorado causes the clouds to rain deadly nails.
Thoughts: Strange Weather is an indelible collection of four short stories about vastly different topics that relate in some way to weather but all leave you with that unsettled feeling that Hill is oh so good at.
Verdict: While this was an impressive collection, it wasn’t consistent and I hoped for a little more from certain tales; however, it is apparent that Hill is just as talented in short story form as he is in novels.
I received this book free from Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Short Summary: Petra Dee won’t let a little thing like cancer stop her from finding her husband who she fears is lost to the darkness that lies under her town, but the Tree of Life is growing strong again and the power behind it won’t be stopped.
Thoughts: Petra’s perseverance to find her husband was admirable, but quitting chemo halfway through to go in search of him was fairly asinine and this installment, the weakest so far, could and should have been more about her search for Gabriel.
Verdict: I love this magical series and despite this weak installment, the cliffhanger means there are more installments to come and I’m still definitely on board for more Petra (and 100% more of her coyote side-kick Sig.)
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Short Summary: After a nuclear war and a devastating pandemic, Lynn McBride and her family are surviving in the wilds of Canada, but secrets her parents kept hidden are suddenly seeing the light of day and those secrets endanger everyone.
Thoughts: This can easily be compared to all the big names: The Road, The Passage, Ashfall, etc. because despite my continued love for the genre, it’s been done to death; however, Johnson manages to still make this a worthwhile tale (especially with the added help of narrator Jayme Mattler).
Verdict: As a debut author, Johnson’s pick of genre may be overdone but his writing skills shine with possibility for future novels.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill
“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.
A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”
On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.
In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.
About Joe Hill
Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.
He also writes short stories. Some of them were gathered together in his prize-winning collection, 20th Century Ghosts.
He was awarded the Eisner Award for Best Writer for his long running comic book series, Locke & Key, co-created with illustrator and art wizard Gabriel Rodriguez.
He lives in New Hampshire with a corgi named McMurtry after a certain beloved writer of cowboy tales. His next book, Strange Weather, a collection of novellas, is due in fall of 2017.
From the author of The Uninvited comes a haunting historical novel with a compelling mystery at its core. A young child psychologist steps off a train, her destination a foggy seaside town. There, she begins a journey causing her to question everything she believes about life, death, memories, and reincarnation.
In 1925, Alice Lind steps off a train in the rain-soaked coastal hamlet of Gordon Bay, Oregon. There, she expects to do nothing more difficult than administer IQ tests to a group of rural schoolchildren. A trained psychologist, Alice believes mysteries of the mind can be unlocked scientifically, but now her views are about to be challenged by one curious child.
Seven-year-old Janie O’Daire is a mathematical genius, which is surprising. But what is disturbing are the stories she tells: that her name was once Violet, she grew up in Kansas decades earlier, and she drowned at age nineteen. Alice delves into these stories, at first believing they’re no more than the product of the girl’s vast imagination. But, slowly, Alice comes to the realization that Janie might indeed be telling a strange truth.
Alice knows the investigation may endanger her already shaky professional reputation, and as a woman in a field dominated by men she has no room for mistakes. But she is unprepared for the ways it will illuminate terrifying mysteries within her own past, and in the process, irrevocably change her life.
About Cat Winters
Cat Winters is an award-winning, critically acclaimed author of fiction that blends history with the supernatural. Her young adult works include IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, THE CURE FOR DREAMING, THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY, and the forthcoming ODD & TRUE (Sept. 2017). Her adult novels are THE UNINVITED and YESTERNIGHT. She has been named a Morris Award finalist, a Bram Stoker Award nominee, and an Oregon Spirit Book Award winner, and her books have appeared on numerous state and "best of" lists.
Winters was born and raised in Southern California, just a short drive down the freeway from Disneyland, which may explain her love of haunted mansions, bygone eras, and fantasylands. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids.
I absolutely adored The Uninvited. Adored. It wasn’t quite as popular as her Young Adult novels, being her first targeted solely towards Adults, but I feel like her books really straddle the line and can be equally appreciated by all. Can’t wait for this one though!
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.
“There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”
In my opinion, post-apocalyptic fiction could easily be considered a sub-genre of horror so it only makes sense for Joe Hill to be tackling it. In Hill’s version of the apocalypse, the world has drastically changed after a spore begins spreading that is quite literally burning everything (and everyone) to the ground. It’s known as Draco Incendia Trychophyton, or more commonly known as Dragonscale. The infected show signs on their skin in black and gold dragon scales which could be considered beautiful were it not for the fact it causes people, and those in close proximity, to spontaneously combust. Harper Grayson is a school nurse who begins volunteering at the local hospital at least until it too burns down. She returns home to her husband, Jakob, only to discover shortly after that she’s pregnant. Harper is intent on keeping the baby, convinced she’d be able to give birth to a healthy child, but Jakob disagrees and becomes exceedingly violent. Harper is forced to find a new safe place to see this pregnancy through which ends in a chance meeting with The Fireman, a man who straddles the line between hero and villain.
“Do you spend a lot of nights keeping the fire department in hysterics with creative acts of arson?” “Everyone needs a hobby,” he said.
This was an immense and time-consuming book, however, if you’ve read a Joe Hill book before you know that the man can’t seem to write a bad book. While this one was not nearly my favorite (that award goes to Heart Shaped Box, always) it’s always fascinating to see a well-loved author tackle a new genre and watch the world he created unfold. He also once again proves his talents for writing fantastic female characters. Merrin Williams in Horns, Victoria McQueen in NOS4A2, and now Harper Grayson in The Fireman. Where he really excelled though was with his created contagion, Dragonscale, and how it was built up and developed far more than most end of world diseases I’ve read about. Typically, stories such as these have a failure of sufficiently developing what led to the downfall of civilization and instead focuses on the world after instead. I could easily compare the time spent explaining and detailing Dragonscale (including the origins and scientific explanations) to how flawlessly Mira Grant handled Kellis-Amberlee in her Newsflesh trilogy.
‘Her Dragonscale pulsed with a disagreeable warmth, in a way that made her think of someone breathing on coals.’
Camp Wyndham ends up being Harper’s “safe” place for her to continue her pregnancy but once she arrives there the pacing of the book seemed to suffer. Camp drama, strange religious aspects that are pretty standard for any end of world story, and various other plot lines were ongoing but I felt that much of it was often superfluous and ultimately never amounted to much when you consider how much time was spent exploring said plots. I applaud his effort for writing such a tome, but alas, I feel it could have been trimmed down just a bit. There was also the requisite yet under-developed bad guy that I’ve already mentioned: Jakob. To summarize, Jakob was a big bag of dicks.
“I’ve never once met a woman who had any true intellectual rigor. There’s a reason things like Facebook and airplanes and all the other great inventions of our time were made by men.”
And that’s just one example. Basically, he went a little psycho after he discovered Harper had contracted Dragonscale. They had touched one another in recent days so he became a hypochondriac, convinced that she had also infected him and sentenced him to his death. I felt that there wasn’t enough basis for him as a villain and wanted a bit more backstory to find out how his perverse mind worked, even though I doubt it would have been an enjoyable experience.
Hill created a most enticing world full of love, bravery, and adventure in The Fireman. He also set the tone for possible future installments. I’ll admit, I did groan a bit because that’s just what this world needs more of: series. But this is Joe Hill, and I can’t not be curious.
At prestigious Oxford University, an American student searches for the truth about her mother’s death in this eerie, suspenseful thriller that blends money, murder, and black magic.
You can’t keep it from her forever. She needs to know the truth.
Cassandra Blackwell arrives in Oxford with one mission: to uncover the truth about her mother’s dark past. Raised in America, with no idea that her mother had ever studied at the famed college, a mysterious package now sends her across the ocean, determined to unravel the secrets that her mother took to her grave. Plunged into the glamorous, secretive life of Raleigh College, Cassie finds a world like no other: a world of ancient tradition, privilege—and murder.
Beneath the hallowed halls of this storied university there is a mysterious force at work . . . A dark society that is shaping our world, and will stop at nothing to keep its grip on power. Cassie might be the only one who can stop them—but at what cost?
About Ann A. McDonald
Abby grew up in Sussex, England and studied Politics, Philosophy & Economics at Oxford University. She began writing at college, and graduated to work as a music journalist and entertainment critic; drawing on her loves of pop culture, film and feminism. She is now a full-time novelist and screen-writer in Los Angeles, California.
Writing as Abigail Haas, she is the author of two YA thriller novels: Dangerous Girls (Simon Pulse), and Dangerous Boys (Simon & Schuster UK). She has also penned several novels as Abby McDonald: the young adult books ‘Sophomore Switch’; ‘Boys, Bears & a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots’; ‘The Anti-Prom’; ‘Getting Over Garrett Delaney’; and ‘Jane Austen Goes to Hollywood’ (Candlewick Press); and the adult titles ‘The Popularity Rules’ and ”The Liberation of Alice Love’ (Random House).
Writing as Melody Grace, her self-published Beachwood Bay romance series has become an international bestseller, spending several weeks on the USA Today bestseller lists, scoring over 1 million downloads, and charting at #1 on iBooks around the world.
Her work has received starred reviews, been translated into five different languages, won national awards, and been optioned for TV and movies.
A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends domestic drama, psychological suspense, and a touch of modern horror, reminiscent of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In, and Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House
The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.
To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality TV show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.
Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.
“I have to fill my head with something other than the ghosts.”
Fifteen years ago, 14-year-old Marjorie Barrett began to manifest signs of schizophrenia. Her parents, John and Sarah, took her to doctors and psychiatrists even though the financial burden was great since John was unemployed at the time. When the medication only seems to make her worse, her father who recently discovered religion, becomes convinced that Marjorie is possessed and enlists the help of a Catholic priest. The Barrett family also gains the interest of a producer interested in helping with their financial troubles by turning their domestic nightmare into a reality show. Marjorie’s little sister Merry was only 8-years-old and now fifteen years later she’s telling the whole sordid story of what truly happened.
In addition to the recollections of now 23-year-old Merry who is rehashing her childhood for the purpose of a non-fiction novel being written about her, we’re given posts by a blogger by the name of Karen Brissette who scrutinizes each and every aspect of the six-episode run of the simply named show The Possession. References to pop-culture are constant, comparing Marjorie’s actions to The Exorcist and various other movies of the same ilk. She makes many other valid points regarding the validity of Marjorie’s actions making you wonder if she’s simply following a script. Is she truly possessed? Is she actually mentally ill? Or is she simply a 14-year-old girl that is acting out for some unknown purpose? But the most interesting question of all is why this Karen Brissette is interested so much in this family in the first place.
With this story written not only through the eyes of an 8-year-old who immediately becomes an unreliable narrator, we’re given that additional overlying haze with everything being filmed. It’s difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction, who is mentally ill and who is simply acting. Your mind will constantly churn out possibilities to clear the overall ambiguity, but the veil won’t fall until the very end. Tremblay has constructed an intricately built story about simple truths and just how convoluted people can make them.
Do you wanna know a secret? Will you hold it close and dear? This will not be made apparent, But you and I are not alone in here.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girlsis a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.
About Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of fifteen thrillers, including UNSEEN, CRIMINAL, FALLEN, BROKEN, UNDONE, FRACTURED, BEYOND REACH, TRIPTYCH, FAITHLESS, COP TOWN, and the e-original short stories “Snatched” and “Busted.”
Slaughter was born in a small southern Georgia community, and now resides in Atlanta. She is widely credited with first coining the term "investigoogling" in 2006.
‘You couldn’t turn on the TV without hearing about the missing teenage girl. Sixteen years old. White. Middle class. Very pretty. No one ever seemed quite as outraged when an ugly woman went missing.’
Twenty-four years ago, nineteen-year-old Julia Carroll was walking home one night and disappeared without a trace. The cops believed that she had joined a commune or had run off with a guy and that she’d turn up in a few months. She never did and no body was ever discovered. The Carroll’s have never quite recovered from the loss of Julia, most especially her father who took his own life years after continuing the investigation long after the police had stopped. Claire, Julia’s younger sister, found herself a quiet, comfortable life to rely upon, however, it’s tragically upset when she bears witness to the brutal murder of her husband. Following his death, she discovers a side of her husband that she wouldn’t have thought possible. This discovery sets in motion an inability to know who to trust, and when you don’t know who to trust, what can you do?
Most thrillers these days tend to involve the actual kidnapping, but rather in Pretty Girls, Slaughter hits fast-forward and focuses on the impact on the family left behind even decades later. Most heartbreaking are the snippets between chapters of the fathers journal, his passages written in the form of letters to his deceased daughter. It paints a tragic picture of his inability to give up hope. Their mother, we learn, has kept Julia’s room completely intact as if she’s still expecting her to walk through the front-door. The best characterization is given to Julia’s two estranged sisters, Claire and Lydia. Claire has found a way to have the most normal life possible, one where tragedy doesn’t unexpectedly occur. Lydia seems to have been the one to overcome the memories, yet they crop up when it comes to raising her teenage daughter to not be just another statistic. Claire turns to her sister to help her sort through the chaos that’s become her life, but what she managed to uncover was only the tip of the iceberg. The villain of the story, well, once clues started popping up it all became a bit predictable albeit still incredibly distressing to watch everything unfold.
Kidnapping statistics are pretty heartbreaking to review. Did you know, that according to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC), there are 84,924 active missing persons cases as of December 31, 2014? [Source] 74% of kidnapping victims that aren’t taken by a parent, are female. Also, 74% of victims who were ultimately killed had died within 3 hours of being taken. [Source] That’s the harsh reality of the world we live in and Karin Slaughter’s story of “pretty girls” being kidnapped is unfortunately far more common than I think any of us realize.
This post was a part of the ‘Pretty Girls’ blog tour.
Check out the other tour stops below!