This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
REVIEWED BY DEBS CARR
The book begins with the Wayland family arriving in Trout Island in upstate New York. They're on their way to take up residence in a rented house for the six-week summer break where Marcus Wayland, a mediocre actor and father of the teenage twins, Bella and Olly and their younger brother Jack, is to take on the lead in a small theatre production. His wife Lara is recovering from an abortion that Marcus persuaded her to have and mentally and physically she’s still reeling from allowing herself to be talked into something she didn't want to do. She’s hoping that this sojourn away from their home in Brighton will allow her time to find a way to learn to love her husband once again.
Unfortunately the house the theatre company finds for them is filthy. Thick dust pervades the air and the the rancid smell in the house that Lara can't quite trace makes her feel ill. Lara resents that little or no preparation has been carried out for their arrival and soon starts to regret her decision to move her family to the States for the summer.
You can’t miss the dust in this book, it swirls around the family like an underlying malevolence. Each member of the family tries with differing dedication to settle in to their new neighbourhood and temporary lifestyle. The heat, seemingly vacant neighbourhood, and the mysterious woman who makes crude gestures to Lara and Bella as she almost mows them down with her car gives you a creeping sensation that an invisible danger is lurking around the next corner. Lara makes unwelcome discoveries in her home and Bella falls in love, while Olly tests his mother’s patience with his integration with the local louts and his return to bad habits. Only Marcus seems oblivious to any discourse as he studies his lines and rejoices in his lead role.
The tense, weary, misery endured by Lara as she tries her best to make her family’s stay in Trout Island as endurable as possible, is clear throughout the book. Her discomfort and secret delight when she discovers that Stephen, a world famous actor and the lover she'd had to part from years before is living secretly nearby.
The premise of this book is good. I enjoyed the sense of impending danger and the ever present complications for the family and some of the writing is beautifully constructed. I found the pace of the first third of the book too slow for my liking and the repetition about the dust unnecessary, but just when I thought I was going to struggle to reach the half way point, the tempo of the plot began to heat up and by the last third of the story I couldn't put the book down.
What started as a slow, languorous story, due in part to the location and listlessness of the characters in the story, ends up being a pounding battle of wits with shocking revellations and an unexpected, but thrilling ending.
A slow burning story that builds up to an impressive crescendo.