Mimi Shapiro had a disturbing freshman year at NYU, thanks to a foolish affair with a professor who still haunts her caller ID. So when her artist father, Marc, offers the use of his remote Canadian cottage, she’s glad to hop in her Mini Cooper and drive up north. The house is fairy-tale quaint, and the key is hidden right where her dad said it would be, so she’s shocked to find someone already living there — Jay, a young musician, who is equally startled to meet Mimi and immediately accuses her of leaving strange and threatening tokens inside: a dead bird, a snakeskin, a cricket sound track embedded in his latest composition. But Mimi has just arrived, so who is responsible? And more alarmingly, what does the intruder want? Part gripping thriller, part family drama, this fast-paced novel plays out in alternating viewpoints, in a pastoral setting that is evocative and eerie — a mysterious character in its own right.
Book Review: ★★★★★★
This is another book cover that caught my eye, on a recent pass through the local library. And I just couldn’t leave it sitting there. It was just calling to me too loudly. Something about the combination of the ominous cover art, combined with an intriguing title, and I just had to read it. And this book literally moves through so many different responses that it is hard to know where to begin, and what to focus on first. I mean there is the creepy relationships, the impending doom feel, the pink elephant that is standing in the middle of the page, and no one — least of all the reader — cares to acknowledge it. This book is an interesting ride.
I guess the overall premise of the book is the question of how much chaos can be left in the wake of a man that has never been faithful to a woman in his life; and at the intersections of these torrid affairs are the three children left to grow up without a father, and in broken homes. But when these three very unlikely characters come together — the chaos develops into something of an impending natural disaster. Add to this the unresolved emotional issues of a very deranged woman, the unexplained thefts and break-ins, the dirty old man that has a thing for much younger women, and the primary mode of transportation is kayak and canoe and the setting really takes on an interesting life all of its own.
I loved the setting in this book. It just seemed to lend itself so well to the over all feel of the story. That sense of impending catastrophe, and the approach of something evil — that you know is going to hit like a train wreck, but there is no way to avoid it. Mr. Wynne-Jones has are real flair for describing settings — and his real strength is in describing places. In this book, the setting becomes very much the back bone of this story — in a very subtle way. It has been a while since I have opened a book and actually felt like I just stepped into another place, and the world around me doesn’t exist. But this one really fit the bill. I mean the houses described in this house — you just know that behind the windows and doors are secrets carefully kept hidden from the world. And yet, when you meet the people in those houses — the secrets only become deeper, and more of a quandary than ever.
The characters, however, are another matter — in a good way. They are full of depth, and troubling on myriad levels. I can honestly say I came away from this book feeling like none of the characters were very mentally, or emotionally healthy. And it was this character line up of complete mental dysfunction that becomes the over the top resonance of the book. I mean, every single character in this book has at least one oddity. And when you combine them all together it really is like throwing a lit match in a room full of dynamite, and waiting to see if a spark just happens to ignite — or if this time you will get off lucky.
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