Hello friends! Today I am delighted to bring you to the next stop of The Visitors blog tour, hosted by Legend Press! Keep on reading for my 5 star review and a Q&A with the lovely Catherine herself!
Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the shocking secret that John keeps in the cellar.
Until, suddenly, John has a heart attack and Marion is forced to go down to the cellar herself and face the gruesome truth that her brother has kept hidden.
As questions are asked and secrets unravel, maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.
(I originally posted this review on Oct 4, 2017)
This is one of those books that happens to be nothing like I expected it to be! Which seems to be the general consensus with this one, but while lots of reviewers were being disappointed by this, I wasn’t. I was perfectly happy with the way this one turned out. So happy, in fact, that I thought it deserved a 5 star review!
I can’t get over the fact that this is a debut novel. I know there are lots of debuts out there that are incredible, but it’s been so long since I discovered one that I’m in awe of this one! Burns’ has such a skill to her penmanship you’d have thought she’s been delivering bestsellers for years.
I think the downfall, to others, for this one is the lack of story and plot development. The synopsis has you believe there will be an amazing discovery in the cellar of Marion’s house when the reality is (and maybe this is a slight spoiler) Marion knows what’s in the cellar all along… and so do we. It’s pretty obvious from page one.
Personally, the fact that the storytelling was on the backburner in this one didn’t bother me. I was so enthralled and amazed by Marion as a character that I was more than happy reading all about her sad, lonely life. People are obsessed with things that are different or conceived as ‘weird’, hence the millions of online lists about them and the old school “freak shows”, and when we see something weird or different, we gawp, we can’t look away. This is exactly how I felt about Marion!
That’s not the say there wasn’t a story in this one, of course there was! It was just slow and didn’t go particularly far. Not in the sense that some books do, where there is a definitive beginning occurrence, middle occurrence and the end big-bang- occurrence.
Do not read this book if you’re feel lonely or melancholy, because my God, this one might just send you into a spiralling depression. It is seriously upsetting in places…
The writing, the characters and the mood of this book were absolutely superbly done. I can’t wait to read whatever Burns’ comes up with next.
Thank you so much to Legend Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
What inspired you to write The Visitors?
There’s a cellar in the house where I live that’s pretty spooky, so that was part of it. Also news stories such as the Josef Fritzl and Marc Dutroux cases where people were kept imprisoned for years. The thing that disturbed me most about those stories was that they always seemed to take place in suburban settings, it made me wonder what might be going on behind closed doors in the streets around where I live.
Did this novel go in the same direction you thought it would when you first started it? Or did it take you on an unexpected journey?
I think there were some darker aspects of Marion’s character that came through in later drafts. And I originally had a completely different ending, but of course, I can’t give that away.
Marion and John are very well thought out, realistic characters – how did you come about creating them?
Thank you! John actually reminds me of a deceased relative of mine, (not a close one, fortunately!) I don’t want to say who it was, but when I was a little girl I was terrified of them. Regarding Marion’s character, I had read a number of news articles about the wives and family members of criminals, I began to wonder why they might cover up for someone in that kind of situation. I think she’s a person trapped by circumstances and many of us can relate to that.
What kind of research did you put in when writing this story?
As I mentioned above, I did read a lot of news articles about similar cases. I can’t think of any other particular research.
What is your favourite scene in The Visitors?
I like the flashback scenes, like when they go on holiday to Scotland, I think the humour gives a bit of relief from the darkness. I also like the bit where she goes to the spiritualist, Brendan O’Brien, I had a lot of fun writing about him and his TV show.
The book is a slow burner, but was writing it a quick or slow process?
I think I wrote it pretty quickly, it took about a year, but the editing was a strange process, especially since it was my first novel. I found reading through the endless drafts a bit mind bending.
Who are some of your favourite authors that you take inspiration from?
Definitely Shirley Jackson, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King.
Are you in the process of writing another novel currently? And if you are, can you give us a sneak peek of what it’s going to be about?
Yes I am writing another book, it’s very different from The Visitors but it’s still in the horror/thriller genre and its set in the City of London, that’s all I’m saying!
Thank you so much to Catherine for taking the time to answer my questions, especially as they got lost along the way somewhere and she had to rewrite all her answers last minute!! It’s been a pleasure to read your answers & I can’t wait to see what book you come out with next!
Check out more of The Visitors blog tour stops form the bloggers below!