When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn’t want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world. Most of all, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. Unfortunately, she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.
Neither of our main characters were very likeable in this book. I think because we get Louise’s perspective first we think that she is trying to do the right thing by her parents and Mark is insufferable but as the plot progresses we see things in a different light. She definitely gaslights her brother after we find out what Pupkin made her do at the pond. She keeps trying to dismiss everything that she is seeing first hand and continue in the delusion that her family weren’t weird and everything is fine.
Mark has issues for sure, I think he really needed that admission of guilt from Louise about what happened when they were younger and then telling her in turn how Pupkin also ruined his life. There was just so much miscommunication between the siblings that felt quite natural because of the different kind of upbringing they each got. I do feel like it was nasty of him to not share the inheritance with Louise at the start and have to be manipulated into giving her half so he can get help with all the paperwork.
All of the scenes in the house with all of the dolls and the creepy puppets were a little hard to envision in my mind. It was just too chaotic and frantic and I didn’t get to relish in the fear and horror of the moments, especially the scene with Louise and Pupkin with that sewing needle (omg). I would of liked it to be more drawn out and frightening in those moments. The rest of the book honestly was way too long, slow and kind of boring. All of the family drama though necessary in terms of the plot didn’t really capture my attention and the whole sequence with Poppy dragged on.
⭐️3/5 stars not my favourite from Grady Hendrix