With its manicured lawns, pastel houses, and quiet, tree-lined streets, Willow Ridge seems to be the perfect place for Megan and Tyler Stokes to start a new chapter in their lives together. But soon after settling in, Megan begins to notice cracks in the neighborhood’s bright suburban facade—cracks that reveal a darker secret hidden just beneath the surface.
After an angry encounter with a neighbor takes a horrifying turn, Megan’s waking nightmare truly begins—growing ever more chilling and bizarre with each shocking twist. Suddenly forced to question everything around her, Megan finds herself trapped between the specter of madness and the shadow of something far worse. Her only hope is to expose the community’s pretty lies and discover the truth about what is really going on in Willow Ridge—a truth so devastating that her life will never be the same.
When I saw John Rector had another novel coming out I was really excited. I read a previous book of his, Ruthless, which I really enjoyed, so I was sure I was going to like this one, but it didn’t live up to my expectations.
This book sounds like it’s going to be about a creepy neighbourhood, and while it is, it also isn’t. Sure, our characters live in a Stepford Wives feeling place, but we actually only meet 2 or 3 extra characters who live in the neighbourhood, so when the synopsis says something about “exposing the community’s pretty lies”, there didn’t feel like there was much of that. It was far more about a woman digging up secrets on an institute that happens to have all its employees living in one area. This isn’t particularly a bad thing, it’s just something to note. It’s not quite as Stepford Wives as you might think!
This book is 90% conversation and 10% description, so if you’re the kind of person who likes descriptive, poetic reads, this certainly won’t be for you, but for me, all the speech wasn’t an issue, it was sometimes what was being said that I had an issue with. Lots of the time I felt conversation was a little bland, stiff and unrealistic. In terms of descriptive writing, about the neighbourhood or a person, there was nothing special to note. There was also a rehashing of several particular phrases that began to grate on me quite soon into the book.
To begin with, I did really like this novel, I found myself rushing through it, intrigued to know what was going on. It was subtle but it was creepy. Towards the middle, my interest began to dip a bit. I had started to guess what was happening, as well as there being a not-so-exciting reveal. Some parts of the story also started to feel amiss, such as the roses bushes outside of Rachel’s being described as “in full bloom” after the scene of her hacking away at them… continuity was sometimes a little shady.
What really let this novel down for me was the characters and the immaturity of them all. None of them felt real, so it was difficult picturing them in situations. Particularly our MC, Megan, who was really juvenile and melodramatic. And naive. Oh so very, stupidly, unrealistically naive. It was so easy to become annoyed by her rash decision making and all the different ways she handled situations. What really got me, was her revealing conversation with Mercer about midway through the book. I couldn’t wrap my head around how she could turn around and call him “crazy” after everything she had been through. It felt totally off kilter!
I liked and I didn’t like this book. I think it could have been so much creepier and mysterious than it was. I felt there was too much time being spent on Megan’s thoughts of Chicago and her marriage to fully appreciate the weirdness of the community she lived in. Ultimately, this book was too simple. It all worked out too well and everything slot perfectly into place, which totally isn’t my kind of thriller story.
Thanks to Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.
*Links are affiliate. I appreciate every one of you who purchase from my affiliate links *