Narrator: Whitney Dykhouse
Published: January 2021, Brilliance Audio
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes
Perfect town. Perfect homes. Perfect families. It’s enough to drive some women mad…
In a tale inspired by real events, pregnant journalist Joan Harken is cautiously excited to follow her fiancé back to his Minnesota hometown. After spending a childhood on the move and chasing the screams and swirls of news-rich city life, she’s eager to settle down. Lilydale’s motto, “Come Home Forever,” couldn’t be more inviting.
And yet, something is off in the picture-perfect village.
The friendliness borders on intrusive. Joan can’t shake the feeling that every move she makes is being tracked. An archaic organization still seems to hold the town in thrall. So does the sinister secret of a little boy who vanished decades ago. And unless Joan is imagining things, a frighteningly familiar figure from her past is on watch in the shadows.
Her fiancé tells her she’s being paranoid. He might be right. Then again, she might have moved to the deadliest small town on earth.
My thoughts: This is the first book I’ve read by Jess Lourey and let me just say it will definitely not be the last if this book is anything to go by! It was one of my most anticipated January reads (see post here) and it absolutely lived up to my expectations in every way.
As soon as I heard that this book was based on real events, I knew I had to read this one. I was hooked from the beginning and ended up finishing the book in a day! Set in the late 1960s, the story has such a great sense of place and time – the descriptions of all those avocado appliances and the wallpapers had me cringing! – and I really felt that sense of unease almost from the start. I loved how smoothly the story jumps back and forth in time, all setting up the bigger picture, allowing us to grasp what the heck was going on.
This book really gets under your skin. You just know something isn’t right in Lilydale, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. The people Joan meets are so odd and right off the bat you start to feel on edge – at least I did. What could possibly be going on? Or is Joan just being paranoid and it’s rubbing off on you, too? Are the neighbors just being friendly and overly helpful because Joan is new in town and pregnant or is their nosiness something more of a sinister nature?
I loved how twisted and atmospheric this book was. Just as I thought maybe I had things worked out, a new twist would pop up and throw me off. I loved the exploration into family secrets and boy does it get interesting the further Joan digs! The mystery of the missing boy from decades ago hangs over this town and when another one goes missing, Joan realizes things don’t add up. She knows she’s on to something and the further she digs the more uneasy she becomes.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s one of those books that will grab you from the get-go and not let up until you reach the end. It’s completely captivating and utterly chilling – and remember this is set in the 1960s…well before the internet and cell phones! This book is one that is so creepy and unsettling but so good. I loved it!
Audio thoughts: This was such a great audiobook. Whitney Dykhouse does a great job with the narration, bringing the book to life. Her pacing and intonation are spot on and she really does a great job infusing just the right amount of tension and emotion into her voice as necessary. I found myself unable to put this audio down once I started it and ended up listening to it in one day – that’s how engaged and captivated I was!