Do not read if you’re alone in your house at night. Especially if you live near the woods.
I don’t live near the woods, but still. This one was a fanatically scary read. I pick many more psychological thrillers than horror novels, but this was a perfect balance between the two.
The story is set in rural Vermont and split between 1908 and present day. Which doesn’t sound like it would work but actually ties together well. In 1908, Sarah Harrison Shea was married and had a beautiful young daughter. She kept a detailed diary of her life and you learn about what life was like then. Modern day finds us at Ruthie’s house. Ruthie lives there with her younger sister and her mother. Except, their never-ever-break-from-routine mother is suddenly missing.
It goes back and forth between the time periods and we slowly uncover things about both families. I’m going to keep this extremely vague because I refuse to spoil anything, it’s
that good, so bear with me here. Under unusual circumstances, Sarah’s daughter dies and under even more unusual circumstances, Sarah also dies a month later. Her husband is found near her body and almost immediately kills himself, leaving many questions unanswered. In present day Vermont, we find out that there are several disappearances linked with Ruthie’s Mom’s, and almost nothing is at all what it seems.
So people die in 1908, what’s so creepy about that? The sleepers of course. Sarah had an ‘aunt’ who was a magical person/witch and apparently there was a way to bring a person back to life for seven days. Although the version of them that returned wasn’t really like them at all.
Can you see how that might amp things up on the freak out scale? Because it does; the whole process for bringing sleepers into our world is creepy with three c’s and at least four y’s.
Also that plot twist at the end. DANG.
So that’s plot. Speaking on the writing itself, I was impressed. The time differences were obvious in the style of writing and each character had their own voice. I felt terrible for Sarah’s husband, really liked Ruthie’s boyfriend, and was quite concerned for her little sister. To be fair, some of the writing was a little slow and there were some parts that felt underdeveloped, but over all it came together well.
I would totally recommend this book if you’re looking for a kinda quick but very intriguing read. If you’ve already read it and totally loved it, I would recommend Paul Trembly’s A Head Full of Ghosts, or Positive by David Wellington.
Awaken My Love, Appetite for Destruction, The Crane Wife