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
*BEWARE OF SPOILERS*
Finch Chamberlin is the newest transfer student to the ultra-competitive Ulalume Academy… but she’s also not what she seems. Months before school started, Finch and her parents got into an accident that should have left her dead at the bottom of a river. But something monstrous, and ancient, and terrifying, wouldn’t let her drown. Finch doesn’t know why she woke up after her heart stopped, but since dying she’s felt a constant pull from the school and the surrounding town of Rainwater, like something on the island is calling to her. Selena St. Clair sees right through Finch, and she knows something is seriously wrong with her. But despite Selena’s suspicion, she feels drawn to Finch and has a sinking feeling that from now on the two will be inexplicably linked to one another.
Finch is an interesting character for sure. I think when we are introduced to her she seems quite innocent and unassuming. She is very much a loner and wants to be by herself which contrasts starkly with Selena. A lot is revealed to Finch over the course of the storyline and she does evolve and become more accepting of her parents death and starts to live a bit more through the help of her new friends.
Selena was the more entertaining of the two perspectives. Her life is way more chaotic being the popular girl and trying to maintain her reputation even though it’s not necessarily who she is as a person. I think all teenage girls can relate to putting on a façade when they are in high school to try and appear more put together and become popular but Selena becoming a mean girl kind of went to the extreme. As we learn more about her throughout the course of the plot I became more attached to her and seeing how her feelings for Finch grew and her trying to push them away was very endearing.
The premise was super interesting, finding out about the history of the town and how everything connects back to Nerosi. I liked all of the representation within the book but some of the side characters weren’t very distinct and distinguishable from each other. As the plot progressed and we get more revelations it did start to feel a bit predictable though it didn’t shy away from getting a bit dark which I enjoyed!
⭐️3/5 stars was a slow start
After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…
I had no idea what to expect throughout the course of this book and I was honestly surprised at every turn. Daisy seemed like a bit of a ambivalent character, she didn’t really stand out in any way throughout the book and no one ever suspected her of being the one to commit the murders. I was definitely intrigued by her past and finding out about the dynamics within the Darker family.
I didn’t really find any of the other characters within the book particularly likeable which I think was the intention. The way that they all treated each other throughout the course of the night in retrospect makes sense when the big final twist happens. Nana definitely is my favourite out of all of them, though her favoritism towards Daisy when they were children is a little questionable.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the setting of the cottage. The isolation and the storm really ramps up the creepy tone of the plot and makes for a great backdrop as we try and figure out who is picking everyone off one by one. Even though the start was a little slower paced for me the build up of anticipation and intrigue kept me engaged.
When we eventually are told who the murderer is and why the Darker family was killed I struggled to accept that Daisy was already dead. I just thought there were so many scenes where she interacted with her family members but upon reflection and don’t think they ever responded back to her. I almost immediately wanted to restart the book and delve into every scene and see whether or not it made sense. I think that supernatural twist was unexpected and shocking and I think was ultimately necessary otherwise there wasn’t many options that would of been as shocking.
⭐️4/5 stars oh poor Daisy!
*SOME SPOILERY BITS*
After the first season of her true crime podcast became an overnight sensation and set an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is now a household name―and the last hope for thousands of people seeking justice. But she’s used to being recognized for her voice, not her face. Which makes it all the more unsettling when she finds a note on her car windshield, addressed to her, begging for help. The small town of Neapolis is being torn apart by a devastating rape trial. The town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for Olympic greatness, has been accused of raping a high school student, the beloved granddaughter of the police chief. Under pressure to make Season Three a success, Rachel throws herself into interviewing and investigating―but the mysterious letters keep showing up in unexpected places.
I liked Rachel as our main character. The whole premise of the podcast and coming from being an investigative journalist was compelling and intriguing. I loved following on as she uncovers what happens during this highly publicized and talked about rape trial as well as figuring out what really happened to Jenny.
Hannah I was sort of questioning her intentions throughout the course of the plot. I just didn’t understand why she didn’t just meet up with Rachel and explain everything to her face. Leaving the letters though did add a layer of mystery to the plot but they felt a little bit sinister to me. It just always felt like she was being too secretive and wasn’t telling the whole story so it made me doubt her as a character.
As far as the trial aspect of the book goes I was a bit ambivalent towards it, it’s just never a good feeling to see how rape victims are treating throughout. Of course you always want justice to prevail but it doesn’t always end up happening that way and it very nearly happens in this book. Knowing that no one really won at the end of the day doesn’t give me any satisfaction as a reader but it is very realistic.
There was a lot of quite graphic scenes and heavy topics that are included in this book though the format with the shorter chapters and the inclusion of the podcast elements did make it quite a fast read. I can’t say that I enjoyed what I was reading but the way the two plotlines converged and how the reveals are exposed did make keep me engaged and eager to see how the ending will play out.
⭐️4/5 stars this was brutal, violent and just sad
Mars has always been the lesser twin, the shadow to his sister Caroline’s radiance. But when Caroline dies under horrific circumstances, Mars is propelled to learn all he can about his once-inseparable sister who’d grown tragically distant. Mars’s genderfluidity means he’s often excluded from the traditions — and expectations — of his politically-connected family. This includes attendance at the prestigious Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy where his sister poured so much of her time. But with his grief still fresh, he insists on attending in her place.
Mars as a character I enjoyed but didn’t connect with as much as I would of liked to. I think because the start of the book is so jarring and intense it took me a little longer to get situated in the plot and understand what was happening. I thought Mars’ reasonings for wanting to go back to Aspen Academy was fair and if was in his place I would of wanted to go back too. I just thought it took him too long to really make a move and start to fully investigate the honeys and Aspen as a whole.
All the other characters aside from Mars were kind of hard to distinguish between. None of them really felt fleshed out to me and were kind of blurred together (I’m even having a hard time remembering any of their names). I just felt like because this was titled as the honeys and they were the ones who were closest to Caroline before she died we would of got to know them a lot more than what we did.
I could in no way predict how this book was going to end. It took a turn for the weird and strange and I wasn’t prepared for it so it definitely took me by surprise! I liked how broad the scope of the book got and it wasn’t just isolated to Aspen and the fact that Mars wasn’t able to escape from the inevitability of this organisation.
The prose was very lyrical and beautiful but almost a little too flowery for me. I think the overly descriptive language and the perceptive shifts that occur throughout the course of the plot kept confusing me which may have been intentional by the author. I don’t really enjoy for the most part not fulling knowing and understanding what was going on so that kind of pulled me out of the story a bit.
⭐️3/5 stars Loved the premise, the pacing was just a bit off