I was NOT expecting this slim novel to be so awesome, so horror-based, and so suspenseful. Loved it. It would have been an automatic 5 stars, but some things didn't jive.
The Return comes out on March 24, 2020!
Elise is told her best friend, Julie, went missing on a solo hiking trip. Two years go by, and Elise refuses to believe or accept that Julie's dead. She's sure Julie will turn up again, good as new.
Two years to the day that Julie disappears, she returns. She doesn't remember anything about her time missing, and things are...different. But Elise is ecstatic anyway—Julie came back.
To celebrate Julie's return, Elise and Julie's two other friends organize a girl's weekend at a lodge in the New England woods. The lodge is crazy wacky—think individually-themed rooms, Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton, and The Shining all in one—and the girls are immediately set up for a weird time.
But the lodge isn't the weird part. Julie is.
Something's wrong with Julie, and it might not be what Elise is expecting...
Wow. What a cool, unique, horrific debut. This clocks in at just under 200 pages, and I devoured it in one sitting. The suspense was killer—at any given moment, I was on pins and needles waiting for the next creepy thing, the next reveal. The girls' friendship dynamics were painfully raw, honest, and full of recognizable traits that I identified with from my own friends. The reveal, while easier to guess than others, was still well done and I loved the final climax.
The only thing that kept The Return from being an automatic 5 stars for me was the overall pacing. You can tell that this story had a killer hook and good suspense, but due to the lack of a side-plot or believable red herrings its pacing suffered. Lots of dialogue-based scenes and not enough significant action. However, as the suspense was done SO well, this was relatively easy to ignore. It would have been a much bigger problem if this novel had been longer.
Thank you to Berkley via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
What a twisted nightmare. A fairy tale you'd never want to meet.
Warnings: Very graphic in the medical sense
I almost hesitated to rate this the full 5 stars because it's such a twisted speculative novella, but at the same time I think it's one of the most singular things I've ever read, so sue me. I loved it.
Follow Me to Ground is witchy, spooky, medically graphic, and disturbing. It follows the life of two non-humans, a father and a daughter, who live in a fairy tale-type scenario where they are the mystical healers that the town goes to when they're desperate. Ada and her father bury people in The Ground behind their cottage and heal their insides by scooping out the illness (literally).
Ada and her father aren't human, and they don't pretend to be.
Enter Samson, a local boy/man who captures Ada's ageless young girl/woman attention. (The hyphens are because the ages in this story are described in both ways...it highlights the overall fluidity of this story.) Samson and Ada begin an affair.
What started out off-kilter and uncomfortable gets even more so when Ada and Samson's love affair begins to fracture at the edges, and all is not what it seems. Is Samson a good man? What's up with his pregnant sister, who lives with him alone? What will Ada do when confronted with Samson's attentions vs. her nonhuman ties to The Ground?
Written with a one-of-a-kind narration and crackling tension-filled sentences, this is the kind of story that stays with you. If you liked Wilder Girls for its unflinching acceptance of body horror and its lack of explanations, you'll like this. If you liked Seanan McGuire's short stories on fairy tales best left alone, you'll love this.
I don't know what it says about me that I appreciated this story, but damn this was weird and awesome.
Thank you to Scribner for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.