This novel about an atmospheric, creepy island and the haunting revelations of buried angst and secrets ending in a gory finale isn't for everyone—but wow, this hit the spot for me!
Horror elements: ★★★★
Plot: ★★ 1/2
Laney is a divorced teacher with a dead sister, a rich ex-husband, and a niece now under her care. Her ex-husband gifted her their rich island property in the middle of Lake Superior, and while Laney loves it to pieces, she doesn't have the money to pay for it alone—so she rents it out as an exclusive rental property for vacationers. She hates every moment of it, but there's no other choice.
So when Laney receives a call from a renter that blood and scratches have been found in a closet, and pentagrams are all over the property, she's pissed. Someone's throwing a mean prank and now she's got to fix it before the property loses more revenue. Armed with her niece, Madison, and sheer will, Laney heads to the island.
However, when she gets to the shore prior to heading over to Hemlock Island, Laney discovers quite the scene: her ex-husband, his sister and Laney's ex-best friend, and two other people from Laney's past that she'd much rather forget.
With spooky shenanigans and sinister consequences awaiting them, the last thing Laney needs is this tangle of interpersonal drama. But it's too late, and now this motley crew finds themselves trapped on an island—and what they're about to find will change them forever.
I would categorize this novel as one of those hybrid, in-between concepts. Not quite horror enough, not quite thriller enough, not quite interpersonal drama enough. And for the detail-oriented lovers, I can see the disappoint rearing its head from the very first few chapters.
This is a novel based in action, dialogue, and tension. All taking place on a truly gripping island setting in Lake Superior on the Great Lakes. (Which is in my neck of the woods as a Michigan girl, so let's be real, this was a huge sell for me.)
For me, a reader who loves drama, action, and clean prose focused on goals in her mystery/thrillers, Hemlock Island was a win. I loved the tension, the secrets bubbling to the surface, the surprises blatantly hidden and revealed at the proper times. This isn't a shocking whodunit, or whydunit, or even meant to be truly surprising/shocking—instead, I found the wins in Hemlock Island to be the sheer enjoyment of the unfolding story and the ruthless practicality of the characters faced with a horrifying scenario.
Come for the creepy island. Stay for the creepy island + the politics of this twisted tangle of friends and lovers and enemies.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.