In Leave the World Behind, Rumaan Alam’s newest publication, a married couple and their children head into the New York countryside to have a family vacation – a reprieve from the daily city life they typically are a part of. Before they know it, their vacation has been turned upside down when the owners of the vacation house they are renting show up, bringing news that everywhere else in the surrounding areas have no power or cell service.
While their cabin continues to have power, neither of the couples have cell service, internet, or any way to contact the outside world or find answers to what is going on, how widespread the outages are, or whether the answer is to travel back into the city. As the couples navigate what feels like a post-apocalyptic world, they experience sensations that leave even the reader in awe: a flock of flamingoes show up to bathe in their swimming pool and many more. Events that seem meaningless become spooky in the technology-less world that Rumaan Alam creates in Leave the World Behind.
This novel is understated horror, a tale of living without knowledge of what has happened around you. The couples – one black, one white – must lean on each other and overcome not only racial differences, but the skepticism that comes along with surviving a catastrophe with a complete stranger. Alam’s prose style leaves a bit to be desired in places and there are overly descriptive sexual scenes that the book could have lived without; however, the novel explores such internal terror in nuanced ways. The reader can begin to feel uneasy as the characters do, exploring this uncharted territory with a couple they do not know at all. The unsettling nature of the children add to the dimensions of the plot as well, as they wander into the woods around the cabin throughout the novel.
The Ideal Reader
The characters are top notch, multi-dimensional and riveting. The scenario is one of intense questioning and empty gaps. The reading experience of this novel is one of unsettled unknowing. If you are looking for a scary novel with clear answers, this is not it. But if a creepy, atmospheric novel that strives to give you goosebumps is what you’re looking for, this is the one.(5 / 5)
If you want to buy it via Amazon, check out the links in this post or right here (we do get $ if you buy!)
What Have We Done: Alex Finlay Produces Another Hit
- Jenna: A stay at home mom with a secret assassin past
- Donnie: An alcoholic rock star
- Nico: An executive producer of a reality television show
They all have a past, but who is out to get them?
Jenna, Donnie, and Nico share a troubled past. They were all orphans who lived at Savior House — which is much less savior, much more terror. When their friend Benny, a famous judge, is murdered and the FBI comes looking, Jenna, Donnie, and Nico must race against the clock to figure out who is targeting them.
From the author of The Night Shift, which I reviewed here, I would expect nothing less than what Finlay has delivered. Finlay notoriously creates stories with palpable thrill and spine-tingling revelations.
I particularly enjoyed the character of Jenna. She is a reformed assassin living a normal life as a new stepmom. When she is called in to make a hit and her family is threatened, she goes badass mom on ’em. While I still thought Donnie and Nico as characters were engaging, it was nothing for what I felt for Jenna.
Also, major props to Finlay for creating a character that kills with a very unique weapon. Read it to find out more!(5 / 5)
“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut
Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.
I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.
Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.
Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.
The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.
This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.
Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.(5 / 5)
Buy it here!
A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”
“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?” — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author
Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.
The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.
Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.
This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.
It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.(4 / 5)