Maxwell has crafted a myriad of dismaying characters, including a sadistic former cult member and kidnapper (among other things), a child pornography fan turned rapist, and the diabolical cult leader who catalyzed it all. Much of the novel takes place when Sally is a young girl, and her quest is not for the faint of heart. Readers will find themselves simultaneously disgusted, scared, and fascinated by how the loose threads and varying viewpoints will come together in the end. Rest assured–although the story becomes tangled, particularly when characters swap names, time periods, and relationships with each other, all of the ghosts of 2165 Hillside’s past will be exorcized by the end.
A slew of different narrators deliver this story in a way that affords readers the chance to play detective, but buyer beware: some of the text will be difficult to forget, especially some sex scenes. Readers will be gripped by the novel’s fast pace once the groundwork is laid, but a natural aversion to some of the characters may at times override the thrills. Maxwell ties up the ending nicely but leaves plenty for readers to think about after the last page is turned.
Takeaway: A harrowing ghost story in which a young girl struggles to separate truth from fiction and save her kidnapped sister.
Great for fans of: Julia Heaberlin’s Paper Ghosts, Ania Ahlborn’s Within These Walls.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-