A special thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I have been reading a lot of thriller/mystery books lately, and while this is not a fast-paced, page-turning type of thriller, it is still true to the genre—it is more in the gothic and psychological vein. Burns writes a character-driven novel about a brother and sister with an almost Hitchcock feel to it.
Marion Zetland is a fifty-something spinster shut in who lives with her controlling older brother, John. The siblings still live in their family home, a Georgian townhouse is a seaside town. Despite having money, the house is literally decaying and is filled with garbage, dust, and secrets.
Told from Marion's perspective, Burns' character study is no less than fascinating. Marion is child-like, but not innocent. She has been beaten down her whole life, first by her overbearing mother and now by her domineering brother. Denial is her coping mechanism—when at all possible, she either daydreams or simply turns a blind eye. Her only friends seem to be her collection of stuffed toys. She uses these as an escape, especially to what John has locked in the cellar.
After John's has a heart attack, Marion is forced to forced to go down to the basement to face what her brother has kept locked up. She also has to navigate the outside modern world and other responsibilities that John has normally handled. Things start to unravel and there is a glimpse that John isn't the only one with a dark side.
If you like books that cross the line into the macabre, then this book is for you. Like the house, it is grimy and gritty and utterly disturbing.