About the Book
Debra Hamilton confronts the fear of inheriting mental illness when her husband moves her into a hundred-year-old farmhouse on fifty-three acres of blacklisted real estate property. Floorboards creak when she’s alone. Objects appear and disappear. Neighbors insinuate the house is haunted but memories of her mother's schizophrenia make her wonder. Julie, a neighbor who befriends Debra, faces her own fears when a stalker starts sending perverted anonymous letters that cause a rift in Julie’s unstable marriage. Their plots merge as their friendship grows to create a rich and satisfying story. “Intelligence, as well as emotion, drives this novel. A taut thriller rich with lurid details yet also an evocation of vividly real and compelling characters.” --Mark Spencer, author of A Haunted Love Story, The Weary Motel, The Masked Demon, and Trespassers.
There was potential in the writing of the book, definitely. The author's writing style was easy to read, and the plot line was creative, but would have been improved by a more structured development. The emotions of the characters were incredibly realistic, and there were moments of great suspense. The exploration of different mental disorders, including schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder, was intriguing, and there were explorations of truths about them that aren't often discussed, but were in this story. The central themes and personal demons of the characters are hard topics to tackle, but Benedict succeeded in showing their ugliness to her readers.
The story introduces us into the lives of Debra Hamilton, who struggles with the fear of inheriting her mother's schizophrenia, and of Julie Zourenger, who fights within a marriage to an emotionally abusive husband while facing the anxiety of receiving letters from an anonymous stalker. The themes are there, but the unrealistic professionalism, relationships, reactions, and conversations held between the characters distracted me from the main purpose. The intended themes were written with a bluntness that did not persuade me as a reader to see the struggles of the characters through compelling story telling, but rather forced me to see them through forceful declarations of the fears that each character had. In addition, there were issues in the writing when it came to perspective, as it was sometimes hard to follow which character was being focused on at the time, and thus whether the author intended for the particular scene to be written in first-person or third-person.I felt as though a lot of unrelated events were being thrown my way quite a bit of the time, most of which barely, if at all, advanced character development or the plot line of the story. At the end, the intended plot twist simply introduced new characters as though they had been present throughout the whole story, and provided for an easy resolution. I wish I had liked the book more because it had huge potential, but it was simply not for me.
Reviewed by Sofia Millar